Sadly, Admin Angel and I didn’t have decent enough cell or internet service to livetweet the Sherlock Nerd HQ panel; thankfully, you can view it for free online, and that combined with my notes allowed me to put together some of the panel’s highlights.
I was definitely happy that they opened the Sherlock Nerd HQ panel by showing us the trailer for season 4, which premiered at SDCC. Honestly, one of the sad things about attending Comic-Con is that you can’t see everything, so if they hadn’t aired the trailer at this panel, too, it might have been weeks before I (a person without cable who sadly never thinks to search for these things until much later) realized it even existed. Regardless, despite the “did you miss me” clip from Moriarty, in the trailer Sherlock simply says that “something is coming – maybe it’s Moriarty, maybe it’s not”.
Now, that makes me wonder if he really is back or if they’re just throwing us a red herring. It didn’t help that one of the fans at the Sherlock Nerd HQ panel announced that she and a friend had published a book about “Sherlock vs. Moriarty”, and when Steven Moffat asked if she resurrected Moriarty and she said yes, his response was “You can’t resurrect a dead character.” Of course, TV shows are known for trying to throw fans off track – do you think Moffat was teasing, or do you think the Moriarty return itself is one big tease that won’t really happen
The thing is, it’s very obvious that they enjoy writing Moriarty. “The fun of it…the twinkle of it; he [Moriarty] can say the unsayable.” That, and Moffat talked about how he was really inspired by what was already some amazing writing on the part of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
One thing I’ll give the Sherlock Nerd HQ panelists (Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Sue Vertue, and Amanda Abbington) – they were great at keeping their lips sealed in regards to anything that could be considered a season 4 spoiler. They talked about “giggle loops” (a term from an episode of Coupling that Moffat explained as “when the last thing you should do is laugh, you almost always laugh”), and even though Sue, Mark, and Mary all mentioned this happening during specific scenes they filmed for season 4, they made sure to not reveal anything too specific.
Another fan asked if Mark would see more action in season 4, specifically shooting a gun, and although Mark said there is “going to be quite a lot of me” he basically laughed that off, too, and pretty much avoided answering the question. When the fan replied that they would “take any kind of shooting”, though, Steven Moffat’s reply was perfect: “Welcome to America!”
That certainly wasn’t the only funny moment during the Sherlock Nerd HQ panel – when asked about how Mary Watson was going to balance being a new mother with loving the adventures of Sherlock and John, Amanda Abbington said, “Mary’s quite tenacious…she’ll find a way, ’cause she’s a bad ass!” (I certainly agree!)
In fact, Amanda was pretty much hilarious throughout the entire panel. The panelists got into a somewhat lengthy discussion regarding the most challenging things about being performers and/or being on set, and her answer was half serious (the fact that she has to sit around for long periods of time and then get into character right away for a take) and half amusing (“The waiting around, it’s just boring!”). However, I’m not sure that tops her answer to the question about describing her character with a song, that song apparently being “Smack My Bitch Up” by The Prodigy. She tried to take it back, but this attempt was half-hearted and I hope she didn’t actually mean it.
It also seemed like Moffat, Gatiss, Vertue, and Abbington enjoy positive relationships with each other. They joked around, they engaged each other, and when they got serious about certain things they were basically always in agreement (and never in a way that seemed fake or forced). For instance, when asked if there were any scenes the cast had to be “convinced” to do, they all agreed that while there was lively discussion at times, it was never contentious – at most someone would say “I’m not sure the character would do that” or “Can I skip that line or can I move that around a bit”. While I’m sure they have their good and bad days on set, it’s easy to believe, based on how they acted around each other throughout the Sherlock Nerd HQ panel, that they genuinely like (if not love) working together, at least most (if not all) of the time.
Last but certainly not least, the best way for me to describe the most amazing few minutes of the Sherlock Nerd HQ panel is by at least attempting to quote one fan’s question about queer representation. (This is why I’m so late writing this article – I had to watch and re-watch the video in order to get this down in its entirety, because it really was – at least for the most part – very lovely.)
Fan: [Lately] there’s been a lot of introduction of LGBT characters. Not to just out them as LGBT, and I’m not talking about Sherlock or Watson here, but can we look forward to any representation in the next season – not specifically outing someone as gay but just having that there…not ignoring it…but not putting it in your face?”
Steven: Why do all conversations about this subject end up with ‘in your face’ or ‘shoving it down your throat’?
Mark: In this season, no, but that’s not a policy decision, obviously…For me personally as a gay man the problem is…trying to burden popular series or popular films with having to sort of carry everything at once. It’s very difficult to have a gay baddie because then the danger is…you’re saying that gay people are bad. Whereas, you know, the point is everyone is all shades of everything. That’s life. Obviously when there was far less representation, that’s a bigger burden, but now I think there’s much more. I think we should all be a bit more grown up about it and allowed to say ‘you can be a grumpy bisexual person, you can be a very camp gay person…all sorts of things. We don’t have any agenda like that…we’re doing the show we’re doing, that doesn’t mean we’re going to suddenly out a character just for the sake of it.
Steven: It has to be done with such intelligent delicacy, too. It’s a danger if you make that their character note. The reality of shows like Sherlock and Doctor Who is, the subject of who you prefer to date is unlikely to come up in the middle of the crisis, you know? … People rotate through your life a lot when you’re working on a TV series. I generally speaking don’t know if they’re gay or straight until they turn up at the wrap party, because it doesn’t come up in normal conversation, and there aren’t any normal conversations in Sherlock or Doctor Who. But I do think it’s important that kids watching television see themselves onscreen, I think that’s important. But to add to that, it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t seem as though you’re forgiving them. So often you can say, ‘This person is gay, but they’re a perfectly normal person too.’ Well, to a kid you’re saying, I didn’t know it was in question! I didn’t know it was a doubt until this point? So you have to be careful with it. But yes, the representation is hugely important and it’s something that all of television has to get better at. That’s the truth.
I’ve been lucky enough to attend one of the Nerd HQ Conversations for a Cause for three years in a row now – the Walking Dead panel in 2014, the Bad-Ass Women panel last year, and then of course this year’s Sherlock Nerd HQ panel. They’ve always been amazing experiences, and most of that is because the fans drive these Conversations. What Nerd HQ panels have you attended? Did you see the Sherlock Conversation this year, and if so, what were your favorite highlights? Let us know in the comments!
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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