'Sherlock' Season 3 to Premiere Christmas Minisode "Many Happy Returns"

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Whatever your plans for closing the gap between 'Sherlock' season 3's January 1 UK premiere date and its stateside debut on January 19, fans of the Benedict Cumberbatch-Martin Freeman drama will have themselves a Christmas bonus before the year is out: a new minisode previewing the return of London's (and history's) greatest detective!

Titled "Many Happy Returns," the first official minisode web event for 'Sherlock' will be available via the BBC's interactive Red Button service, while the synopsis reads as follows: "Sherlock Holmes has been gone for two years. But someone isn't quite convinced that he's dead …" As we saw from the most recent trailer, 'Sherlock''s presumably theatrical return sets Twitter ablaze, which could offer a clue as to the believer(s) in question.

Elsewhere, the first synopsis of season 3 premiere “The Empty Hearse” reveals a much larger time jump than we’d originally considered:

Two years after the devastating events of ‘The Reichenbach Fall’, John appears to have got on with his life. New horizons and romance beckon. But, with London under threat of a devastating terrorist attack, Sherlock is about to take John at his word, staging his resurrection with all the theatricality that comes so naturally to him. If Sherlock thinks everything will be just as he left it, though, he’s in for a very big surprise…

Meanwhile, in addition to the footage screened and details gleaned at Comic-Con, we most recently learned of season 3 that Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen (brother to ‘Hannibal”s Mads Mikkelsen) has joined in the villainous role of “Charles Augustus Magnussen,” a character with no direct literary counterpart but likely corresponds to the 1904 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story, “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton.”

Follow-up episode “The Sign of Three” will feature an oft-discussed wedding, while “The Last Vow” will air on February 2. The BBC has yet to commission an official ‘Sherlock’ season 4, though reportedly Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have both signed on for the follow-up, in spite of their increasingly busy schedules.

Preview 'Sherlock''s big return above, and give us your predictions for the Christmas minisode, "Many Happy Returns" in the comments.

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