Like all good things that get a hold on generations of audiences, Arthur Conan Doyle’s master detective Sherlock Holmes has been interpreted and re-interpreted over and over. For more than 110 years, Holmes and his trusty companion Dr. Watson have appeared in more than 200 movies that adapted Doyle’s original stories–more than 70 actors have played Holmes–the most of any fictional character on-screen according to the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records. Interest has never waned, and every new detective show and police procedural seems to borrow something from him, much like all science fiction seems to borrow something from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Batman was inspired by Holmes 75 years ago, and more recently TV series characters like Adrian Monk, Shawn Spencer, and Dr. Gregory House all were inspired incarnations of the character.
Holmes was no bigger than with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law’s blockbuster films, Sherlock Holmes in 2009 and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows in 2011. In that franchise director Guy Ritchie opted to showcase Holmes from Doyle’s original stories in his original setting of Victorian England.
Rivaling that series of movies after three seasons is BBC’s Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson. Here creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat take Holmes in a completely new direction, present day London, including the clever incorporation of modern technology into Holmes’s sleuthing. Despite the updated setting Sherlock borrows the spirit of Holmes faithfully from Doyle’s stories.
Coming this Christmas, Gatiss and Moffat are coming full circle, returning Sherlock to his roots, by setting Sherlock in Victorian London for a special insert Christmas episode to appear on BBC, PBS Masterpiece, and eventually BBC America. It will be a standalone story, to be followed in 2016 by another three regular episodes in Season 4. It will be a full episode, unlike the Sherlock Christmas short the BBC released last Christmas, shown in its entirety on the BBC YouTube channel here:
Gatiss and Moffat have said they have developed plots for Season 5. They’ve pointed to the difficulty of coordinating of the lead actors and their own schedules as the reason for the staggered release of seasons for the show.