Martin Freeman as John Watson in Sherlock episode “The Six Thatchers.” (Photo credit: BBC)
It’s recently come to pass that fan favorite (and current Black Panther star) Martin Freeman revealed that he actually doesn’t want to come back to Sherlock. In fact, he called working on the show “not fun anymore.”
“I think after series four [it] felt like a pause. I think we felt we’d done it for a bit now. And part of it, speaking for myself is [due to] the reception of it,” he told The Telegraph (as reported by Entertainment Weekly).
“To be absolutely honest, it [was] kind of impossible [to meet fan expectation],” he said. “Sherlock became the animal that it became immediately. Whereas even with [the U.K. version of] The Office, it was a slow burn. But Sherlock was frankly notably high quality from the outset. And when you start [that high] it’s pretty hard to maintain that.”
“Being in that show, it is a mini-Beatles thing,” he said. “People’s expectations, some of it’s not fun anymore. It’s not a thing to be enjoyed, it’s a thing of ‘You better f—ing do this, otherwise, you’re a c—. That’s not fun anymore.”
I understand where he’s coming from, especially since a lot of it is out of his control. It’s gotta be a drag to be on a show that people expect a lot from and has been stuck in a position of being everything to everyone. I know some of what he’s referencing has to come from the ardent fan demands for John and Sherlock to finally become an item on the show. Yes, I’m aware that the two have been at the center of arguments about the nature of their relationship for a long time now, but take it from me, someone who wasn’t even looking to start collecting evidence with regard to John and Sherlock, that I noticed there were overt crumbs being dropped that could lead many people to thinking that the show was setting up a wholly new LGBT dynamic in keeping with the new, 21st century version of this classic character.
But even if we take John and Sherlock’s close relationship out of the picture, the last season just didn’t deliver the goods, and it seems like that realization really took it out of Freeman. The last two seasons, to be honest, weren’t that great, but the final one for sure was the lowest quality of the series so far. Comparing the last season to the first, Sherlock appeared to be a show that was not only going through the motions, but was bloated, trying to dredge up new, inventive storytelling, only for it to actually be just weird, lazy, and regressive. That’s not Freeman’s fault thought–if anything he was the best part of the last season. The fault lies solely on the shoulders of the writers, who went off the rails one too many times and got too comfortable with their show (as well as too comfortable with the practice of teasing the show’s fans about any and everything).
According to Freeman, there might not be a fifth season of Sherlock, and I’m assuming he’s happy about it. I sure am but, it’s also sad how quickly Sherlock forgot itself in such a relatively short amount of time. Sherlock used to be one of the most inventive, tightly-written shows on TV, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Sherlock was, I dare say, a revelation in the pantheon of Sherlock Holmes performances. Similarly, Freeman performed John Watson expertly, imbuing his everyman charm into the character while allowing him to still be the wounded, lost soldier he is. The show was fun, and that fun came from how it inverted and reinvented the classic stories. By the time the fourth season rolled around, a lot of that fun was gone, and in its place was a business-like “going through the motions” aesthetic complete with nepotism (both of Cumberbatch’s actor parents came on the show to play Sherlock’s parents, and Freeman’s former partner Amanda Abbington played Watson’s undercover spy wife Mary) and rushed, half-baked scripts. I’m sure as happy Freeman might be about never donning the oatmeal-colored jumper again, I’m sure he’s got to be a little cut up about it, just like the fans.