PBS announces 'Sherlock' season 3 premiere date

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman will be back in January, along with 'Downton Abbey'

<p>Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch and &quot;Sherlock&quot;&nbsp;will be returning to American in January on PBS.</p>

Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch and "Sherlock" will be returning to American in January on PBS.

Credit: BBC

"Sherlock" will be returning to America in January — and teaming up with "Downton Abbey" on Sunday nights on PBS.

The third season of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss' modern reinvention of Sherlock Holmes has been delayed due to the busy movie schedules of stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. It will premiere in the United States on Sunday, January 19 at 10 p.m. on PBS, airing after "Downton Abbey," which will have premiered on PBS two weeks earlier, on January 5 at 9 p.m. As usual, there will be three installments, titled "The Empty Hearse" (which will explain how Holmes survived his apparent deadly fall at the end of season 2), "The Sign of Three" and "His Last Vow."

The fourth "Downton" season is already airing in the UK, and while the assumption is that "Sherlock" will also air in Britain before it comes here, no UK premiere date has been announced as yet.

The "Sherlock" date was part of a bigger announcement from PBS about its winter and early spring programming. Other highlights include:

* "Call the Midwife" season 3 debuts on Sunday, March 30 at 8 p.m., while season 2 of Jeremy Piven in "Mr. Selfridge" debuts the same night at 9 p.m. Both will air through May 18.

* "Chasing Shackleton" (Wednesdays at 10 from Jan. 8-22), in which a crew of modern explorers try to recreate Sir Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expedition.

* "Hawking" (Jan. 29 at 10 p.m.), in which scientist Stephen Hawking tells his life's story.

* The 200th episode of "American Masters" (Jan. 21, 9 p.m.) interviews 150 subjects about the life and work of J.D. Salinger.

* Legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his camera on UC Berkeley in a new "Independent Lens" film debuting Jan. 13 at 10 p.m.

* Season 4 of "Pioneers of Television" debuts on Tuesday, April 8 at 8 p.m. This season's episodes deal with standup comics who got sitcoms and medical shows, among other topics.

What does everybody else think? Has the internet achieved consensus yet on Sherlock's method of survival?

Alan-sepinwall-sm
Alan Sepinwall
Sr. Editor, What's Alan Watching
Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "The Revolution Was Televised," about the last 15 years of TV drama, is for sale at Amazon. He can be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com
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