Sherlock creator Steven Moffat built a hit show out of a novel premise: what if we brought Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson out of Victorian London, and reimagined them for the modern day? After five years and nearly as many episodes, Moffat has struck on an even more novel premise: what if we put Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson back into Victorian London, where they were in the first place?
That seems to be the premise for this year’s Sherlock Christmas special (British TV has a longstanding tradition of airing special, but not necessarily holiday-themed, episodes on Christmas Day), which will be a standalone 90 minutes to whet the appetite before the fourth three-episode season, which will air presumably some time in 2016. (While the show will air on December 25 in the U.K., PBS has not yet announced a U.S. air date).
The show’s leads, Hobbit star Martin Freeman and magical Dickensian chimney sweep Benedict Cumberbatch, were seen filming recently in period costume, and Moffat confirmed that the special episode will be set in the Victorian era of the original Holmes stories. Presumably, either the episode will take place outside of the series’ usual continuity, or Holmes and Watson will discover a time machine, and Moffat is simply trying to confuse people who already can’t tell the difference between Sherlock and Doctor Who.