Taking a page from Doctor Who's book, the BBC series Sherlock teased the return of Sherlock Holmes in a new 7-minute Series 3 prequel episode titled "Many Happy Returns." The story, written by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, was released by the BBC this morning, giving Sherlock fans an early Christmas present.
Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and Metropolitan Police Forensic Services member Anderson (Jonathan Aris) sit down in a pub, with Anderson attempting to convince Lestrade that Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) is still alive after the events of the Series 2 finale, "The Reichenbach Fall." He offers up three supposed Sherlock sightings:
1. A breakway sect of Buddhist warrior monks infiltrated by a blonde drug smuggler exposed by an abbot with unusual powers of observation and deduction.
2. An incident in New Delhi, where an Indian police detective explains how he solved a murder by working out the depth to which a chocolate flake had sunk into the victim's ice cream cone.
3. The mysterious juror in Hamburg, Germany, who somehow persuades a jury tconvinced that a man named Trepoff isn't guilty of the murder of his wife is, in fact, actually guilty.
"He's out there," remarks Anderson. "He's hiding, but he can't stop himself from getting involved. It's so obviously him if you know how to spot the signs."
We learn that Anderson, who used to give Holmes a hard time at crime scenes, lost "a good job fantasizing about a dead man coming back to life." Before leaving, Lestrade feels sorry for Anderson and offers to put in a word about having his case reviewed.
"Just look at the map, though," replies Anderson. "He's getting closer. It's like he's coming back."
Lestrade goes to check on Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman), bringing him a box of things that belonged to Sherlock. He pulls out an uncut version of a video message that Lestrade insisted Sherlock make for Watson's birthday. After he's alone, Watson watches the DVD and we realize how much he misses his presumably deceased friend.
"I'll tell you what you can do," mumbles Watson. "You can stop being dead."
"Hello, John," begins the recording. "I'm sorry I'm not there at the moment, but I'm very busy -- however, many happy returns. Oh, and don't worry -- I'm going to be with you again very soon."
Watson pauses the recording when the doorbell rings, then we cut to Anderson, who smiles as he realizes that Sherlock Holmes is coming back. And if that isn't subtle enough for you, a man outside reads a newspaper proclaiming "The Game is Back On!" And then, the video recording suddenly starts again, with Holmes smiling and winking at the camera...and us as well.
If you'd like to watch "Many Happy Returns," you can view it below thanks to the BBC's official YouTube account...
Sherlock returns on January 1, 2014 in the UK and on January 19, 2014 on PBS in the United States.