i think people who still tinhat saying mofftiss want us to relive the victioran experience of fans bringing sherlock back are forgetting it doesn't work like that anymore. sherlock of that era was the most popular piece of entertainment, a rare thing, one of few. today? you have hundreds of (much better) tv shows, no one except for few hundred of tumblr fans will bat an eye if sherlock never comes back. imho 99% of casual already forgot they watched the s4 three months ago.
Mmm, I can see the point you’re making here, but that doesn’t mean that’s not what’s happening. Not the brightest move on their part, I grant you, and I do agree with you that the casual audience just come and go. But if it was announced there’s going to be a new episode, you don’t think people would watch it? Crappy season or not, Sherlock is basically a brand name, and people know it and will probably tune in just to see it to see what the hullabaloo is about. It’s one of BBC’s top-rated shows, and people will watch it if something new comes on… I mean… people still watch Dr. Who despite the decline in writing; people still watch Michael Bay movies even though people know they’re probably gonna suck. It’s a psychological thing, just to see what is next, to see how much further it will fall.
The “plan” won’t work they way Mofftiss would have wanted like in Victorian time, agreed, but this is the new age, and tin hatters know that there’s a different medium. There was outrage about the show when TFP aired (“the press always turn”), they cast and crew have all “disappeared”, rumours of no-S5 floating abounds, and people are demanding answers. Essentially… Reichenbach.
Yet they (the BBC and Mofftiss) seem intent on ensuring Sherlock is still on our minds after all of this: Graham Norton released a BC / MF tribute video on their YouTube, the Official Sherlock facebook and YouTube are still producing content months later (not a lot, but just enough to keep reminding people about it), and the media occasionally gets a word from Steven whenever he feels like stirring up shit and leaving his cave.
So while I don’t think a secret episode will draw in as much of an audience as they are used to, it will garner enough to spread by word of mouth. The old “if you build it they will come” dealy-o.
What they did is certainly not the best way to have gone about it, but they’re banking on the hope that the success of the series previously will make the people give them one more chance before canning it completely.