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Since premiering in 2010, the mystery drama Sherlock has been the subject of critical praise and fan adoration, and has since become a fixture in pop culture. It has been over a year since a new episode graced television, which means fans are craving its return. In March, however, Dr. Watson portrayer Martin Freeman reflected on the potential of another season, saying that overly obsessive fans' expectations have made working on the show less fun. Perhaps predictably, his co-star Benedict Cumberbatch had quite a sharp response, saying:
It's pretty pathetic if that's all it takes to let you not want to take a grip of your reality. What, because of expectations? I don't know. I don't necessarily agree with that... I just don't feel affected by that in the same way, I have to say.
Benedict Cumberbatch shared his remarks with The Telegraph, the same publication that Martin Freeman made his own comments to, just a month before. Freeman made many headlines last month when he expressed the negative impact that fans' expectations have had on his enthusiasm to make more Sherlock, which routinely takes lengthy breaks between the large-scale productions. It wasn't the first time Freeman had discussed the pressure surrounding the series, though this marks the first time that Cumberbatch has vocalized how the two stars are handling those expectations with different reactions. Having different takes on that issue does not necessarily mean they have clashing opinions in other areas, though. So here's hoping this is just a chatty dust-up, rather than something more serious.
The final episode of Sherlock Season 4 aired in January 2017, and since then, no definitive plans have come together for a fifth batch of installments. Those potential plans are made all the more complicated by the consistently busy Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman needing to find the time in their schedules to make another season, assuming Steven Moffat's creative team gets another one written. The Oscar-nominated Cumberbatch can next be seen on the silver screen reprising his role as Doctor Strange in Avengers: Infinity War. Martin Freeman was last seen on-screen in the Marvel universe with a supporting role in the smash hit Black Panther.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman's thoughts on Sherlock definitely brings rabid fan expectations for popular series to the forefront of the conversation. At a time when online death threats are hateful comments are regular ways for angered viewers to display their disgust, it's certainly worth a deeper look at how mega-popular shows' cast and crew members are affected. And Sherlock's fanbase is something of a doubled-edged sword, since the high-production value requires longer gaps between episodes, which causes fan expectations to grow more than they would between regular annual airings.
On the one hand, waiting can give the writers and producers, more time to craft something of a higher quality. On the other, fans want to see their favorite characters again and having to wait only builds those expectations to extraordinary heights. But no one wants that excitement to sour to a point where it turns stars away form wanting to make more.
While Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have different takes on the fandom and how that relates to producing more Sherlock, there is no need to break out Team Cumberbatch or Team Freeman t-shirts. Casts are comprised of regular people who, like their fans, share strong emotions about the series they pour their blood, sweat, and tears into. So while there is something to read here, I hope there isn't necessarily much to read about between the lines.
Watch Benedict Cumberbatch in Avengers: Infinity War when the superhero epic hits theaters April 27. Every season of Sherlock is currently available to stream on Netflix. While Sherlock is away there are some others shows you can check out in the meantime. Use our guides to TV's midseason and summer premieres to find them.