comScore Martin Freeman Says Making 'Sherlock' Is 'Not Fun Anymore' Because of Fan Expectations | The Mary Sue
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Things We Saw Today: Martin Freeman Says Making Sherlock Is “Not Fun Anymore” Because of Fan Expectations

martin freeman and benedict cumberbatch in sherlock

Hmm, I don’t know, Martin, maybe the fans just expected the show not to suck?

Actor Martin Freeman, who’s coming off of playing Agent Ross in Black Panther, cast doubt on whether we’d see a fifth season of the BBC’s once wildly popular Sherlock. It’s understandable that Freeman (John Watson), and co-star Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes), both of whom are busy with movies and are now part of the demanding MCU, may not have the time to make the show that launched them into the superstardom stratosphere. I’m sure their asking prices have gone a little bit beyond the BBC’s budget as well.

Like many aging TV shows, Sherlock hit a rough patch, with a nigh-on incoherent and poorly received fourth season. It’s fine to want to put these things to bed and bow out gracefully.

But Freeman seems to have particularly soured on the show’s reception by its incredibly dedicated fanbase, telling The Guardian:

“Um… 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.”

Martin, the article explained, was referring to 2017’s fourth season which seemed to struggle to continue building on fans’ expectations of previous outings.

“To be absolutely honest, it [was] kind of impossible,” he explained. “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 concluded. “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.”

While it’s true that Sherlock‘s fanbase was especially involved and vocal to the point where the show itself parodied them, I think there’s two separate things happening here. Freeman says that Sherlock started out strong and that quality is hard to maintain. True! An excellent point! But he appears to be particularly cranky about the fans’ investment, and their reactions to subsequent lower-quality seasons. He calls out “people’s expectations” rather than hold the show’s creatives accountable for not coming up with better material.

Fans are allowed to be less than enthusiastic when something they love seems to be going badly. While I personally feel that the less said about Sherlock‘s fourth season (or, erm, several before that), the better, it’s certainly not fans’ fault that they were disappointed and didn’t keep quiet about it.

Of course, outsized attention and criticism must be difficult for an actor to handle, but the fans are also a huge part of why properties like Sherlock become popular and actors can go on to become huge movie stars. (If you don’t like vocal fandoms, Marty, you may want to bow out of Marvel while you still can.) It hurts fans to hear this kind of thing from the mouth of an actor that they admire, and it makes Freeman sound ungrateful to the folks who cared enough to, well, care—and as if all work should be about what’s fun for him.

If the game is no longer afoot, I’d rather he just say that the show’s return looks unlikely, and that they told the stories they wanted to tell. But maybe I’m just a person who was once a fan of Sherlock and has wildly unrealistic expectations.

(via EW, image: The BBC)

  • The president of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, John Bailey, is under investigation by that body for multiple allegations of sexual harassment. (via THR)
  • Meanwhile, also in Hollywood:

It’s Friday, friends! What’d you see today?

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