It takes 3 months to film a single series of Sherlock. Two years of pre-production and a couple of months for editing, scoring and other post-production stages.
That’s around 3 years in total.
The main issue in doing more Sherlock, however, seems to be that 3-month period, plus an extra month or so before filming begins, for Benedict Cumberbatch’s and Martin Freeman’s schedules to meet.
Given their celebrity status, that seems like an impossible task nowadays and, with the lack of any cliffhangers and the successful resolution of the main story-line in series 4, Sherlock‘s future is doubtful. However, show creators Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat have not denied nor confirmed the possibility of another series.
It was reported a few years ago that they had both planned Sherlock‘s story till series 5, so the material is certainly there.
All that remains now is a confirmation from the BBC to give the go-ahead, the not-so-easy task of writing the scripts for three 90-minute episodes, and the gargantuan task of assembling the cast together during a specific period of the year.
With that in mind, instead of a new series, why not produce a single 90-minute special every couple of years?
Think about it, filming time would only take a third of an entire series’ production. A single month of filming in one year is certainly easier for the actors to align their schedules.
Given how series 4 ended, with the persona of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson now fully grown into the characters from Conan Doyle’s stories, this could be the perfect way of continuing the Sherlock mythos without having to restart a new three-episode story arc, by simply providing a one-off case in each special.
Think about The Abominable Bride. Whilst it served as a link between series 3 and 4 it is, in a way, a standalone Sherlock episode – providing its own case for Sherlock to solve.
Writing the script for each one-off episode would take much less time than trying to link each plot line of each episode with the rest of the series. In addition, the writers would assuredly come out with an even stronger, wackier script by being able to focus on just the one story.
Fast-forward another year or two and a new special could be in the pipeline.
It’s all a dream for now, true. But I think this is how Sherlock is destined to become from now on.