Sherlock fans never quite know how long they'll have to wait between seasons of the show, thanks to stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman being in high-demand for everything from other TV projects to blockbuster Hollywood movies. With only three episodes per season (albeit with 90-minute running times), the show's reappearances on TV are fleeting, and the fan excitement for them is all the more feverish because of that.
Thankfully, season 4 of Sherlock is literally in sight as a brand new trailer for the series has just premiered at San Diego Comic-Con, during the Sherlock panel. The trailer shows Toby Jones as the new series villain, and sets up what looks like a tense game of chess between Sherlock, Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), Jones' character, and the lingering ghost of Moriarty (Andrew Scott). Watch the trailer above.
The tagline for this season seems to be "It's not a game any more," referencing the previous characterization of the struggle between Sherlock and Moriarty as "The Great Game." During the panel there were three teaser words dropped for the three upcoming episodes of season 4: "Thatcher," "Smith," and "Sherringford." Feel free to try and unpack those, though it's likely they've been carefully selected so that we won't understand their full meaning until after the episodes have aired.
Comic-Con 2016 has been a busy time for Cumberbatch, since he's also headlining Marvel's big upcoming superhero movie Doctor Strange, in which he plays a surgeon who trades in medicine for magic after his hands are crippled in a car accident. His Sherlock co-star Freeman appeared in Marvel's first release of this year, Captain America: Civil War.
This trailer will definitely be exciting for fans of the show's core characters and their relationship drama, but it does seem like Sherlock is moving farther and farther away from the core idea of solving individual cases, in favor of in-depth focus on Sherlock's character development. Of course, it could be the case that this teaser is simply focusing on what hardcore fans are most interested in, and the upcoming season will have some cool cases as well. Showrunners Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat certainly aren't short on source material, thanks to Arthur Conan Doyle's prolific collection of stories.
With what looks like an exciting mix of action and drama ahead, and the tease of some great character moments (Sherlock's landlady Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) calling Mycroft a "reptile" is particularly satisfying), this is an enticing first look at the upcoming season, and we're definitely intrigued to see more.
Sherlock season 4 is coming in 2017.