Despite long hiatuses between seasons, BBC and PBS's Sherlock has inspired a devoted following and garnered plenty of critical acclaim throughout its first three outings. Following the famous detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), and his partner in deduction Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman), Sherlock has balanced elements of the classic character with modern updates.
Season 3 of Sherlock additionally saw the introduction of Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington), who will return alongside Sherlock and John in season 4. Now, first-look photos from season 4 seem to indicate there's a happy announcement to be made: Sherlock will no longer be the only living being who is dependent on John Watson for guidance through the perils of reality.
Indeed, John and Mary Watson are now proud new parents, and per the announcement appearing in Mashable, the wee Watson offspring will play a part in the hijinks and heroism that unfold in the new episodes. In addition to showing Watson and Mary with their new bundle of joy, and a flummoxed Sherlock looking on, the new photos also offer a glimpse of the new season's big bad, namely Culverton Smith (as played by Toby Jones), who appeared in Doyle's "The Adventure Of The Dying Detective." More speculation has of course been stirred up over the new villain rather than the new baby, which is understandable. Take a look at the season 4 photos in the gallery below:
[vn_gallery name="Sherlock Season 4 Photos" id="847272"]
It's tough to glean much else from the photo given that the wee Watson is merely hanging from a baby carrier strapped to John. However, it seems safe to assume that, based upon the look that Sherlock is lobbing in Watson Jr.'s direction, this new relationship dynamic will surely bring a fair amount of comedic levity to a season that has otherwise been described by show creators Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat as "explicitly a darker season."
With Moffat's descriptions of new villain Culverton Smith sounding especially ominous (try "the darkest villain we've had" and "the purest evil" on for size), yes, levity will be crucial, but there's another possibility, of course: John and Mary now have a lot more to lose. Whether or not baby Watson will at any point be under peril remains to be seen. A quick glimpse at the synopsis of Doyle's short story in which we meet Culverton Smith offers no definitive clues, but then again, show creators do love to throw audiences off by deviating from their source material.
The BBC's format of shorter seasons and fewer episodes than a standard U.S. drama always results in more sharply honed drama, and combined with these new characters being thrown into the mix, season 4 is bound to be a cracking one.
Sherlock season 4 will premiere on BBC and PBS with ‘The Six Thatchers’ on January 1, 2017.