Published on July 11th, 2014 | by Nick Kitchen
What Does Sherlock’s Hidden Message Mean for Doctor Who?
Since Moffat and Gatiss first brought us a modern take on the most famous fictional detective of all time, fans of both Sherlock and Doctor Who have been fantasizing, nay, begging, for the two famous characters to meet on our TV screens.
Of course, this hasn’t happened yet and with Smith exiting the TARDIS, most believe it won’t. However, Radio Times is reporting a curious turn of events that will cause discerning Whovians to take notice.
End credits, aside from the “next time…” trailer, is a typically a vanilla and boring affair. And as often happens when a show from the UK is licensed in another country, a custom set of end titles is oft assembled. For example, PBS Masterpiece Theatre (not BBC America) is the primary source of Sherlock for American viewers. In order to keep with the very cool and artsy design that Masterpiece employs on their other programs, they requested that Moffat and company do a redesign to fit the Masterpiece aesthetic.
They complied and even added a little addition to the end credits of “The Empty Hearse,” the Series 3 opener. Careful observers will notice that certain letters as the end titles appear are red, whereas the majority of them are white font on the black Masterpiece background. This would be curious in itself, but there is more to the story. Those letters, when placed together in order of end credit appearance spell out something that will certainly peak a Whovian’s interest: “Weng-Chiang”.
If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need us to tell you why that’s of interest, but in case your Doctor Who experience doesn’t travel back to the classics, Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor encountered an evil deity (in reality time travelling war criminal Magnus Greel) named Weing-Chiang in the 1977 serial, The Talons of Weng-Chiang. The serial also stands out because it’s one of the only times Baker appears without a scarf, donning a Deerstalker style hat instead.
The question before us now is why go to the trouble of placing the red letters? Is it merely a fan service, since both Moffat and Gatiss are Doctor Who fans and contributors? Is it only to bring to mind Baker’s Sherlock look in the serial? Or is it something more? Is the message meant to suggest a potential storyline in Peter Capaldi’s debut series? Marcus Greel appeared to meet his doom in the original story – but has he found a way to survive the supposed disintegration? The video below breaks down the end credit sequence.