Sherlock finally returns on Jan. 1, and there are some big changes afoot for season 4. A new baby, a new villain, and a darker tone will be greeting Holmes and Watson when they get back to it. So when we greeted star Martin Freeman this morning on EW Morning Live (Entertainment Weekly Radio, SiriusXM, channel 105), we had plenty of questions about what to expect when our favorite detective duo gets back on the case. Here are some highlights from our chat.
EW RADIO: So, we have a Baby Watson on the way, don’t we?
MARTIN FREEMAN: We are going to have a Baby Watson. John and Mary’s relationship has moved on. We left them last time that Mary was pregnant, so we join them this time and there is a baby.
How will be being a father change John?
Well, I think in the ways that it does in real life, I guess — the ways that it changes you as parents in real life. That’s just a big responsibility. It can’t change the show that much because the dynamic of the show generally speaking is Sherlock and John, and their shenanigans fighting crime, but there has always been an emotional heart to the show as well, I think. It’s not just a procedural CSI type crime of the week thing. It’s also always been about that friendship between those two and the other people in it. John is a little bit changed, but you can’t change the shape of the show too much.
We’ve heard that season 4 is going to be very dark. What does that mean exactly?
I suppose it would follow on from John and Mary becoming parents, and that inevitable responsibility that comes with that. Stakes get bigger. What might have been a little bit of fun three weeks ago is now kind of serious, because you are responsible for someone else’s life. Also, the external stuff that is happening in the show. The cases in the show have always been fairly dark. Some of them are scary and you’re seeing some of the worst aspects of human nature. It’s not like you’re watching Saw, but in a kind of enjoyable way you’re watching very clever nasty people do stuff. And there’s just more of that, really, but even more so. And I think obviously what happens when one friend has a child and gets buddied up with somebody else then that immediately has a dynamic effect on the friendship. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are some changes afoot.
How is Toby Jones’ villain Culverton Smith different from the baddies we’ve seen before like Moriarty and Magnussen?
He’s fantastic. Toby is a really good actor and a very lovely man. It’s nice to have him around on set. For someone who essentially is such a sweet person, he does creepy very well. That character is maybe the most dark-hearted character that we’ve ever had, including Magnussen and Moriarty, maybe even. He’s someone who truly turns Sherlock and John’s stomachs and who they really do want to bring down. They want to take him down.
The end of “The Abominable Bride” left us with this tantalizing idea that the entire series set in present day could all be the vision of a drugged out Victorian-era Sherlock. What do you make of that?
I really liked that as well, the ending of that episode. And it then changed from where I read it to when I saw it, because my take was one thing when I read it, but then when I saw it I thought, “God, maybe the only twenty-first-century thing is…” And I like that ambiguity. But I don’t think it is that. But I don’t know. I’m not sure.
How do you balance possibly doing a season 5 of this versus wanting to do other things?
Everyone involved in the show is acutely aware of how well-written it is and how well-produced it is. If you are on a show that is well-written, well-shot, well-scored, and you’re lucky enough to have chemistry with the person, that’s pretty cool. And that doesn’t come along every day. But at the same time, we do want to do other stuff. And thank God we’re all busy. [Co-creators] Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are busy. Everyone’s busy. I wouldn’t want to make any promises either way on that.
I think things ending is not a thing to be afraid of. Can you imagine the Beatles now? Jesus. Certain things should end. I think everything is supposed to be finite. Who knows? I never really know once we’ve finished a series, because it takes a long time to make another one.
To hear the entire interview with Freeman, listen to EW Morning Live On Demand on the SiriusXM app.