I feel rather strongly about this, so please read responsibly. I used “we” because I think many people in Sherlock fandom have feelings akin to my own about this. I know some people feel differently, I know some people love spoilers, so apologies if this does not represent you. It is in no way an attempt to speak for all of fandom.
When the first series aired, we did not even know if we would get a second one. When the final episode with a major cliffhanger aired, we did not know if there was going to be a second series. We did not know whether the Powers That Be at the BBC were going to allow our heroes to continue to be part of our lives, or whether they would suffer the same fate as many characters that we have become attached to over the years.
The success of this show is due to the fact that it’s brilliant, but it’s also due to our support. Because we watched it, we bought the DVDs, we spread the word, we made our friends and families watch it. We attended screenings and Q&As. We flailed when Martin Freeman and the show won BAFTAs and when the show wiped the floor at the TV Craft BAFTAs. We were disappointed when Benedict Cumberbatch walked away empty-handed. We, in short, invested—emotionally and financially.
We have been existing on the barest minimum of canon for over a year. We need new material like breathing. And we are grateful, oh so very grateful, that, in an age of BBC budget cuts and cancellations of brilliant shows for no apparent reason, we are privileged enough to get a second series.
We want to know John and Sherlock will cope with Irene Adler. We want to know how a modern FINA will play out. We want to know how on Earth they’re going to modernise a story that is as essentially tied to a Victorian setting as HOUN. Of course. We want to see all of that, and more, because we love the show, and the characters, and the writing, and the 221B interior, and the original stories, and…
But we don’t want to see any pictures, or hear any news about it, until the episodes air. We didn’t even know anything about the show the first time round, that’s what made it. Is it really so wrong to want to preserve that “unspoiled” feeling for the second series? Of course we know the basic plot of the stories that the S2 episodes are going to be based on. But we still consider casting news, leaked pictures, and news articles “spoilers” because we don’t want to know how the stories have been modernised.
I’m the kind of person that even switches off before the “next week on (insert TV show here)” trailers because I don’t want to see any spoilers at all. But even so, there is a difference between running into that kind of spoiler a week in advance and getting spoilers when you don’t even know when the episodes will air. Not to mention the effect it has on interaction within the fandom. I, for one, haven’t been on tumblr in about a month, I started avoiding Twitter because spoilers were posted without hashtags, I wouldn’t even attempt to go to any of the fic comms because I know I’ll run into a set picture being used as picture prompt (thank goodness, I have not actually seen any set pictures), now it appears I can’t even buy a paper any more without risking being spoiled. I’m used to the tabloids and the Radio Times spoiling Doctor Who, but I did not expect them to do it for Sherlock as well. So sorry if I haven’t been around in the usual places. It’s because I’m going paranoid. The lengths that we have to go to to protect ourselves from potential spoilers are simply getting ridiculous at this point.
So that tweet and, even more so, that retweet from Mark Gatiss are, to me, firstly missing the point (yes, the original story was written over 100 years ago, but, as outlined above, it is entirely possible to be spoiled for the modern version) and unnecessarily cruel. I would have expected better of a self-confessed fanboy like him. Especially one who has also worked on a show that can largely be kept spoiler-free, and that prides itself on having an official spoiler-free online presence. And we know there are some things that even they want to keep quiet, like who they cast for Irene Adler, so there’s a double standard going on there as well.
I know they don’t owe us anything, but this kind of downright disrespect and cruelty towards loyal fans seems unwarranted. I’m not sure where it came from, and I’m not sure how we’re supposed to deal with it. As a fan, I feel a bit hard done by.