Why I Won’t Be Watching “Elementary” – An Anglophile’s Rant
Remember when we were taught in school that plagiarism was bad and would go on our permanent record and pretty much ruin our lives for all eternity? I was terrified of doing anything that remotely resembled copying someone else’s work, and as an adult I can appreciate why we were so warned. Originality is the key to any good product, from a film, to a recipe, to a television show. Over the past few years there has been a resurgence of a nasty trend that has me more than a little upset, especially that part of me that learned all about the evils of plagiarism. Whenever a show does really well in England, American producers seem to think that not only should there be a version here in the States but that it will do even better. Luckily, most of the time the latter is not the case, which helps restore my faith American audiences, if only a little. But the arrogance, the overt plagiarism, sometimes so far as a scene by scene, line by line, copy of a British show by an American channel, is infuriating. I am not saying that this is anything new or that the Brits aren’t doing it as well, but recently it seems as though the major networks in America just want to have someone else do all the work and copy the answers at the end. For this I wag my finger of shame at you, SHAME!
The most recent show to have its essence sucked dry, its very soul stolen and spat back out is the phenomenal series “Sherlock” which will be airing in it’s Americanized version later this fall as “Elementary.”
Before I allow my wrath to explode upon this blog, I will first describe “Sherlock” in case you have yet to experience the brilliance of this program.
Sherlock is a modern retelling of the classic stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, often using some of his actual plots as the main subject for an episode. The Sherlock Holmes in this series, played by the up and coming British star Benedict Cumberbatch, is an arrogant, nearly sociopathic PI armed with a blog and a cell phone, which he uses to annoy and taunt the police at his pleasure. Dr. John Watson, played by Bilbo himself Martin Freeman, is a war vet and also a blogger, who acts as the audience’s conduit into the mind and world of Sherlock. These two men fight and bicker like an old married couple, their chemistry is really what drives the show and what keeps it so grounded. The scripts and plots are intricate, intelligent and witty, never treating the audience like it is the lowest bar on the intelligence ladder. It is a pity that there are only three episodes a season for the show, and that because of this American awards categorize it as a miniseries. But the key is that so much time and effort is put into those three 90 minute episodes that we are left wanting more but not feeling any less fulfilled with what we got. One other aspect of the series that makes it so unique and important for our time is the way the evidence is given to us throughout each episode.
Now, let us look at the show that will be making me sad until it is canceled, at which time I shall celebrate accordingly. Elementary is pretty much exactly what you would expect from an American adaptation or a remake: remove the quick-witted intelligent dialogue, add in some blatant innuendos and an unnecessary gender change and voila instant remake. Oh don’t let me forget, add in feel of sexual tension that will never be consummated or else the show will fail. Do I really need to say more, because other than that it is a straight up copy of a show that doesn’t need to be copied because, well, it IS STILL ON AIR! Sherlock is a character that can only be portrayed by 1 in a thousand actors, which is why we haven’t seen it in so long. Robert Downey Jr. and Cumberbatch are a rare breed. They can play charming sociopaths, you love them for being so anti social and odd. The same thing cannot be said for Johnny Lee Miller who has never really grown to be anything more than a side actor, the best friend, your basic supporting actor. He lacks any of the charm and depth that is needed for a role like Sherlock. Watson is a character that needs to be loveable but strong, shy but powerful, and I am sorry but no way in hell does Lucy Liu fit any of that criteria.
You may say to this: Well you can at least give it a chance, you can’t judge something without watching it. In my ranting rage I would answer with two statements: 1. Yes I can because I have forced myself through the other remakes by American networks and they have done nothing but anger and upset me. 2. Lucy freaking Liu! I really think number two is perhaps the most important answer.
But let’s take a quick look at my first answer because it is one of the things that forces me to switch over to BBC America rather than endure NBC or CBS or any other major American network. The problem is when one of these Americanized versions fails because it can’t pull off the magic of the original, people often don’t go back and look at the source, because they expect the same crap. The one show that epitomizes the failures of Americanizing a show is Life on Mars, the original series ran for two fantastic seasons while the remake barely made it to a full season.
The original series is a mix of science fiction, period drama and cop show, and honestly shouldn’t have worked. The reason it did work was because of the caliber of talent both on and off-screen, the actors were brilliant and the writing was spot on. After receiving great critical praise and pulling good ratings on BBCA, ABC felt they could recreate this lightning strike. What was created was a travesty in every sense, they attempted to use the exact same plot lines, the exact same dialogue and the exact same characters, but it was a disastrous failure. The show was lacking in the writing, the directing, and especially in the acting, none of it worked, and it just proves that you can copy someone’s paper but you will never get the same grade. You cannot paint a fake Picasso and expect it to pass, you cannot try to sell an off brand sandwich cookie and expect it to taste like an Oreo, no matter how much everything is the same, there will always be something missing. What angers me most is that many people didn’t even know it was a remake and when they did find out they didn’t seek out the original.
Keep in mind, I don’t write any of this to tell you what to watch or what not to watch. All I hope I accomplish with this rant, other than releasing my pent-up rage, is to get you to look at the original first. The show is on Netflix, on DVD, probably on YouTube, so before you attempt to sit through the flaming pile of…the new American version of Sherlock, just take 90 minutes to educate yourself with the source material.
Girl, I love you and congrats on your debut article but I 100% disagree. First, you really can’t judge the show without watching it. Second, Sherlock itself is an adaptation of famous work and so is Elementary. There have been numerous adaptations and you can’t say any of them are plagiarizing the others because that’s kind of ridiculous. Third, because there have been so many adaptations, it might be nice to see them mix it up and cast a women of color in the role. Why not? No one complained when they turned Jane Austen’s Emma into Clueless or Shakespeare into 10 Things I Hate About You?
I appreciate everything you said, and I know I am being slightly harsh and ridiculous believe me. Hence the rantiness. I have just been subjected to my favorite shows being Americanized too many times in the last few years that I just can’t stomach anymore. But I knew this would be a somewhat controversial topic believe me 🙂
Keeping all that in mind, ‘Elementary’ still looks awful in its own right. The casting is rubbish – neither of those actors come across as intelligent enough to play either of the characters. The footage in the trailer was downright odd. Tip-toeing around and licking the floor – it all felt like they’d seen that the recent British show plays up the ‘quirky’ and eccentric without grasping what the thinking behind it was.
In regards to it be plagiarized, the producers of ‘Elementary’ were adamant that they weren’t just adapting the British ‘Sherlock’, but it’s pretty clear that they’ve replicated the character’s costume and mannerisms. It looks like they’ve based it off ‘Sherlock’ more than the original material.
Whilst it’s true that we can’t judge it without seeing the final product you’d think they’d be showcasing the best of the show in the marketing – and what we saw there was rubbish.
Meh, it’s not like this new BBC version can hold a candle to the Jeremy Brett version.
In actual fact, it can. And has. Awesomely.
I can one up you with Life on Mars…Remember Viva Laughlin? There is a reason for that…
Oh dear I forgot about that travesty!
AND they attempted Red Dwarf…sorry, I am a GEEK about these things lol…
I think the McG created remake of ‘Spaced’ must take the cake – after being described by the producer who commissioned the pilot as “the worst thing I have ever seen” the whole series was scrapped.
Because remaking an Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost sitcom with McG at the helm would’ve totally worked [/sarcasm]
Add to that: Coupling, Red Dwarf, Fawlty Towers, Inbetweeners, AbFab…yeah they have pretty much tried just about anything and failed most of the time.
‘Skins’ somehow made it through an entire season in spite of being horribly miscast, performed and directed. I guess the promise of sex and drugs was enough to fuel interest.
There was also an aborted attempt to re-do the Australian show ‘Kath and Kim’…pretty sure I’m the only person living down under who didn’t like that show.
I couldn’t agree more! As much as I love Sherlock, I don’t want to add hours of a knockoff when American tv could come up with something even remotely original. Or maybe they can’t and that’s why they steal from Britain in which case we need new writers.
I completely agree with you that BBC’s Sherlock is absolutely amazing. I adore it, especially Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s performances. I find it puzzling that American networks are attempting to barge in on that success, especially when I do not believe the show will live up to the standards Sherlock has set. However, I think I will try Elementary, just for the sake of trying. Hopefully it will have some sort of spark that makes it worthy?
(However… I still cannot wrap my head around the idea of a female Watson. Just… Ugh.)
Yeah I think the two things that anger me the most are the fact that Lucy freaking Liu is Watson, I mean if you are going to turn Watson into a chick (which is ridiculous enough) at least get a worthy actress. And then the fact that they are doing this while Sherlock is still on the air. They are hoping that Americans who can’t watch Sherlock will watch Elementary, they did the same thing with Being Human and I am still pissed about that. Let me know what you think about the show, I would be interested to see what everyone ends up thinking.
This statement was terribly sexist on your part. (Just saying.) It doesn’t matter if a character is a man or a woman as long as his or hers essence stays the same. And Lucy Liu is an excellent actress.
No, she’s not.
“No, she’s not.”
Based on what? The fact that she isn’t Martin Freeman? Unless you’ve seen the actual show you are not able to judge her acting performance. What is it about her acting that you don’t like? Or her acting in Elementary, to be exact?
I’ve seen the show and plenty of other roles she’s done. She’s far from being an ‘excellent’ actor. Playing every role the exact same way is far from ‘excellent’.
You probably didn’t, because you simply criticize her without making any points or examples to support your claim.
I’m torn between boycotting the show on principle and watching at least one episode so I can rant about it accordingly. My prediction is, I’ll sit down and try to get through one episode, give up after ten minutes and watch the Sherlock series one box-set all in one go just to placate my offended self.
Damn, didn’t think of that! Now I am torn.
Bless you for this post. I literally gagged when I saw the trailers for Elementary. My mum thought I was being murdered I was shouting so loudly.
Yeah, I yelled at the Television for a few minutes when I saw the trailer. I had heard about it coming, but I thought…no, I hoped that it was just a joke. My wife thinks that I should give it a chance…I’m pretty sure that I shouldn’t. lol
…you people do realise that House, M.D is based off of the Doyle novels as well, right? And that Russia is currently making an adaption of the novels?
And that, for the first time EVER, a woman (and one with an Asian heritage at that) is given a role traditionally played by men?
How about how this will be set in a different country, have a different background story to both characters and feature different plots from the BBC version and therefore will NOT be plagiarism (look up the word, seriously). Moffat and co. do now own the rights to the Doyle stories.
What about successful American adaptions that turned out better than the original? Like The Office? Or Queer as Folk? Or American Idol? Whose Line is it Anyway? Shameless?
Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it and get off your high horse. Just because it’s American doesn’t mean it’ll suck. It might, but don’t be a complete knob and judge it before it even airs its pilot!
And yet the trailer for ‘Elementary’ still looked like rubbish. The sequence where he licks the floor and then tiptoes around like a ballet dancer makes it look like a parody.
And this is my exact problem, dumbing it down and making it silly, that angers me.
I do agree that their have been a few successes, however I am tired of straight up copies occurring while the original is still running, it is an attempt to take away viewers or have the same people watch both. It feels as if they are treating the audience like they are not intelligent, which is often my problem with Americanized versions. Reality shows are one of the few areas where it really has worked out, but that doesn’t mean artistic integrity hasn’t been lost in the process. I appreciate your opinion and would love to know what you think of the show when it airs, and I am not a knob, more of an intelligent and opinionated smeghead.
“Abd that is my exact problem, making it dumbing it down and making it silly, that angers me.”
I really don’t understand your statement. Are you saying that the whole show is obviously dumbed down and silly based on one scene from the trailer? In terms of dialogues and stories, it can even be better than Sherlock at times.
For example, how is Sherlock/Moriarty interraction in Elementary, such as the one in season one finale, “Heroine”:
JAMIE MORIARTY: This isn’t how– or when– I wanted to reveal myself to you. But Mr.
Proctor forced the issue.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: This is a ruse. You… So who was the man I spoke to on the phone, who, uh said he was Moriarty?
JAMIE MORIARTY: You talked to one of my lieutenants. He has, over the years, played the role repeatedly and with great conviction. More often than not, he’s done so to protect my identity. Other times, it was because I suspected a potential client might struggle with my gender.
As if men had a monopoly on murder.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: What if I don’t believe you?
JAMIE MORIARTY: You don’t want to believe me. And yet your legendary powers of observation are screaming that I’m telling the truth right now.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Why would you do this? Seduce me, and lead me to believe that you’d been murdered? JAMIE MORIARTY: You’re the detective, Sherlock. You tell me.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Well, I must have interrupted one of your plans when I was still working at Scotland Yard.
JAMIE MORIARTY: Try several plans. A series of assassinations I’d planned meticulously.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Punishment, then.
JAMIE MORIARTY: My first instinct was to kill you. Quietly.
Discreetly. But then, the more I learned about you, the more curious I became. Here, at last, seemed to be a mind that that rivaled my own, something too complicated and too beautiful to destroy at least without further analysis. So I devised a way to study you in your own environment.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: You became “Irene”.
JAMIE MORIARTY: Imagine my surprise when I realized how much we had in common.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: I have about as much in common with you as I do a dung beetle.
JAMIE MORIARTY : I can understand why you would think so.
I know how much pride you take in your uniqueness. But the truth is, I see everything you do. I feel it. Makes the world quite dull, no? Looking at a man, and knowing all his secrets.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: So you’re saying we’re the same.
JAMIE MORIARTY: I’m saying I’m better. And that’s why I let you live, back in London. You were not the threat you had been made out to be.
So I concluded my experiment and resumed my business. You proceeded to prove you were inferior by disappearing into a syringe.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Hmm.
Why resurface in New York?
JAMIE MORIARTY: I’d heard of your your miraculous recovery, and I I was curious to see how far you’d come.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: That’s bollocks. Returning to me is a risk, and you’d only take it if I was close to undermining another of your plots.
That is why you wanted me to lea the country with you earlier, was it not? JAMIE MORIARTY: Same old Sherlock. You look at people and you see puzzles. I see games. You? You’re a game I’ll win every time.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: You might as well just kill me now, ’cause whatever it is you came here to do I’ll stop you.
JAMIE MORIARTY: I would never kill you. Not in a million years. You may not be as unique as you thought, darling, but you’re still a work of art. I appreciate art. What I-I can do, what I will do, is hurt you. Worse than I did before. I have reserves of creativity I haven’t even begun to tap. So please, for you own good, let me win.
and the one sided one in form of a letter written by him in episode 2×12 “The Diabolical Kind”:
“We have spilled much ink, you and I, in our discussion of human connection and we’re no closer to understanding than we were when the correspondence began.
I often feel as if I’m standing on one side of a wide chasm, shouting across, and wondering if the response I hear comes from you, or if it is my own voice echoing back to me.
It seems to me, on my side of the canyon, that the search for unity with another the world’s unhappiness.
I watch as Watson, eager as ever to extract some meaning from the prevailing social conventions, endures a series of curated mating rituals.
It seems to me that she’s incrementally less content each time she returns from one.
I conduct myself as though I’m above matters of the heart, chiefly because I have seen them corrode people I respect.
But in my candid moments, I sometimes wonder if I take the stance I do because love, for lack of a better word, is a game I fail to understand, and so I opt not to play.
After all, if I truly had the purity of all my convictions, I wouldn’t regret so many of the things I’ve done.
Nor would I persist, against so many of my better instincts, in this correspondence.
I find you a challenge, one that, in spite of all that you’ve done, continues to stimulate.
And so the conversation, futile though it may finally be, continues, and we are left to wonder: have we simply failed to find the answers to the questions that preoccupy us or can they not be answered at all? Fortunately for both of us, the world always presents the next diversion the next elaborate distraction from the problems that vex.”
dumbed down when compared to Sherlock/Moriarty interraction in “Sherlock”, such as the one in episode 1×3 “The Great Game”:
JIM MORIARTY: I gave you my number. I thought you might call. Is that a British Army Browning L9A1 in your pocket? Or you are just pleased to see me?
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Both.
or the one in episode 2×3 “The Reichenbach Fall”:
JIM MORIARTY: Good. You got that too.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Beats like digits. Every beat is a one, every rest is a zero. Binary code. That’s why all those assassins tried to save my life.
It was hidden on me, hidden inside my head. A few simple lines of computer code that can break into any system.
JIM MORIARTY: Told all my clients, last one to Sherlock is a sissy.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: But now that it’s up here, I can use it to alter all the records. I can kill Rich Brook and bring back Jim Moriarty.
JIM MORIARTY: No, no, no, no, no. This is too easy. This is too easy.
There is no key, doofus! Those digits are meaningless. They’re utterly meaningless.
You don’t really think a couple of lines of computer code are going to crash the world around our ears? I’m disappointed in you, ordinary Sherlock.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: But the rhythm…
JIM MORIARTY: Partita no 1! Thank you, Johann Sebastian Bach. SHERLOCK HOLMES: But then how did you…
JIM MORIARTY: How did I break into the bank, to the Tower, to the prison? Daylight robbery! All it takes is some willing participants. I knew you’d fall for it. That’s your weakness. You always want everything to be clever. Shall we finish the game? One final act. Glad you chose a tall building. Nice way to do it.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Do it? Do what? Yes, of course. My suicide.
JIM MORIARTY: Genius detective proved to be a fraud. I read it in the paper so it must be true. I love newspapers. Fairy tales. And pretty grim ones too.
JIM MORIARTY: Just kill yourself. It’s a lot less effort. Go on. For me.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: You’re insane.
JIM MORIARTY: You’re just getting that now? Wo-wo-wo! OK.
Let me give you a little extra incentive. Your friends will die if you don’t.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: John?
JIM MORIARTY: Not just John.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Mrs Hudson?
JIM MORIARTY: Everyone.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Lestrade? JIM MORIARTY: Three bullets, three gunmen, three victims. There’s no stopping them now unless my people see you jump. You can have me arrested, you can torture me, you can do anything you like with me, but nothing’s going to prevent them from pulling the trigger. Your only three friends in the world will die unless…
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Unless I kill myself and complete your story.
JIM MORIARTY: You’ve got to admit, that’s sexier.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: And I die in disgrace.
JIM MORIARTY:.Of course. That’s the point of this. You’ve got an audience now. Off you pop. Go on. I told you how this ends.
Your death is the only thing that’s going to call off the killers. I’m certainly not going to do it.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Would you give me one moment, please? One moment of privacy.
JIM MORIARTY: Of course.
SHERLOCK starts laughing.
JIM MORIARTY: What?! What is it? What did I miss?
SHERLOCK HOLMES: You’re not going to do it.
So the killers can be called off, then there’s a recall code or a word or a number. I don’t have to die if I’ve got you.
JIM MORIARTY: You think you can make me stop the order? You think you can make me do that? Yes.
So do you. Sherlock, your big brother and all the King’s horses couldn’t make me do a thing I didn’t want to.
Yes, but I’m not my brother, remember? I am you.
Prepared to do anything.
Prepared to burn.
Prepared to do what ordinary people won’t do.
You want me to shake hands with you in hell? I shall not disappoint you.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Nah. You talk big. Nah. You’re ordinary. You’re ordinary. You’re on the side of the angels.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I am one of them.
JIM MORIARTY: No you’re not. I see. You’re not ordinary. No. You’re me. You’re me. Thank you Sherlock Holmes. Thank you.
Moriarty pulls out a gun and freaking shoots himself in the face.
Or how is Sherlock and Joan’s partnership dumbed down when compared to the one in Sherlock, which is basically two people that have nothing in common constantly bickering at each other? That isn’t how Sherlock/Watson dynamic worked in canon stories at all.
In conclusion, although both shows have their good and bad sides, I think that Elementary definitely isn’t dumbed down or silly, when compared to Sherlock or not.
And if Sherlock fans think that Elementary’s Sherlock tip toing is something dumbed down and silly, I wonder how do they manage to put up with Moriarty’s immature outbursts, second grade level gay jokes regarding Sherlock and John’s partnership, with the fact that the police officers in Sherlock don’t even seem to understand basic forensic procedures and bomb having simple on and off switch in “The Empty Hearse”?
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You left out the part explaining how you gained psychic powers. Otherwise, your entire argument would appear to be the presumptuous, knee-jerk reaction of someone who would rather spew vitriol and condemn a creative work out of some form of misguided loyalty to a BBC show and a dead dude. There is no need to rip a show to shreds–a show you haven’t even seen–out of devotion to a show you already like. In fact, it’s entirely possible to support your BBC version of Sherlock in a way that doesn’t involve making you and your fellow fans look like short-sighted, volatile jerks. Maybe watch an episode of something next time before you rant about how awful it is or buy a crystal ball and start charging.
OR it’s an opinion based on what we have seen so far. We’ve seen plenty of promotions for the show and they have not made us want to watch it. If they whittle all the material they have down to the very best three minutes and those three minutes look rubbish we’re going to go out on a limb and assume we won’t enjoy it.
Now would you like some sugar cubes to feed your high horse?
Here’s us and our horses, I guess. There’s a big, canyon-y difference between assuming you won’t enjoy something and actively attacking a show based on a bad record of “Americanizations” and Lucy Liu.
Yes, here’s us making our assumptions based on previous trends and evidence. What were we thinking.
If you weren’t so pretentious it may have occurred to your that blindly defending a show without seeing it makes as much sense as attacking it.
Half the internet has seen the Elementary pilot. It leaked. I’ve seen it. I like it. My opinions are from actual viewing, not pretending that trailers are the meat and bones. You guys really have a Vaudevillian thing going on here.
Have a look at the date on that article. It was published long before the pilot leaked. It was a prediction based on everything that was available at the time.
So you waited until after the feature was relevant to complain about it. Have a pat on the head.
Did Ryan got the dates wrong or not doesn’t matter as much. The fact still remains: person who wrote this article did so without even watching the show and with nothing to go by except her prejudices regarding American television in general, misinformation (such as thinking that Elementary will be a remake of BBC Sherlock when it was made clear from the start and even before the pilot was released that it will be a modern day adaptation of ACD stories on it’s own) and sexist remarks. That is not a good writing, that is a knee-jerk reaction of burnt Sherlock fan.
Well there are various adaptions but wtf did the producers smoke to create the shit that is Elementary?!
I watched 4 episodes (yeah so zip it all you “watch the show first blahblah”) and it was absolutely horrible!
Even Steve fuckin Urkle could be a more believable Sherlock than Jonny Lee Miller and Joan Watson?! Lucy Liu?! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!?! Why on earth make John Watson a woman? So you don’t have to deal with homosexual undertones? To create sexual tension between Watson & Sherlock and a possible affair / relationship / whatever?
The series is a pile of stupid garbage that it makes me want to rip my eyes out. No smartness, no intelligent humor. Just flat, boring jokes, lame phrases and boring cases. If the characters names were different then maybe, MAYBE I could tolerate it as another one of those 0815 crime series floating around but Sherlock Holmes? NO YOU ARE NOT!
This series is a slap right into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s face – I wish I’d be dead like him so I will never ever see, read or hear from this fail again.
The saddest thing is just how large the fanbase is. Only proves that intelligent life on earth is endangered…
I have to say that I don’t agree with most of the points (regarding Elementary) made in the comment above and the article itself.
Let me start by saying that I like BBC’s Sherlock too but I am not going to praise it in this particular comment because it was praised a lot in the article itself and that is not a reason why I am commenting.
I would like to start with some of my personal thoughts about Elementary. Making Watson a woman-and woman of color, on top of that-and setting the show in New York came off as a refreshing change to me and the show had been a great fun to watch so far. Their portrayal of men and women of color on the show is very respectful and executed in a way that seems natural and not forcable. I really liked the way they changed so many things externally but kept the character’s essences the same and also how they based some episodes on original stories by staying mostly true to the original story arcs while in the same time making original changes regarding the setting and investigative process (just watch the episodes 1×20 “A Dead Man’s Switch” and 2×18 “The Hound of the Cancer Cells”). I liked how they explored Sherlock’s drug use (canon Sherlock was using drugs) and approached it in much more serious manner in any other adaptations, even explaining how a modern day society and a modern way of living can indirectly trigger the addiction, an interesting contrast to a relatively light approach to the matter in canon and most of the other adaptations. (Episode 2×7 The Marchioness.) and how they explored the human side of Sherlock Holmes, that we were only given glimpses of in canon. Sherlock and Joan’s friendship is unique in a way only Sherlock and Watson’s friendship can be but also very warm and human, with some pretty funny yet not disrespectful situations. I especially like their very original take on Moriarty arc and the casting choice regarding Moriarty, and also their take Irene Adler and Mrs Hudson, but I am not going to get spoilery.
To a commenter above: if you have watched more than four episodes of Elementary, you would have known that there is no sexual tension between Sherlock and Joan. Sherlock sees her merely as his partner in solving cases, and, later, as a friend. Despite being a man and a woman living together, they rarely ever get mistaken for a couple, even less than BBC’s Sherlock and John (that part really started to annoy me). She later becomes a detective on her own, although she still continues working with him.
Sexual tension is only there if you look for it, the same with BBC Sherlock and any other adaptations, and the canon. There are no homosexual undertones and that is not the core of the canon, like you are implying. Sherlock and Watson are supposed to be friends and that’s it. And they are just that in Elementary. Friends. And partners in solving crimes.
You say that cases are boring, but the format and types of cases that they are solving in Elementary actually stay closer to the canon than the ones in BBC’s Sherlock. Canon Sherlock rarely investigated high profiled cases the way Sherlock does in Sherlock, and Moriarty actually appeared in only one story.
Even the character development is better than the one in BBC’s Sherlock. This is a direct quote from episode 1×16 Details, when Sherlock suggests Joan to become a detective of her own:
“I have a certain funds set aside. You may continue to reside at the brownstone. You may reside elsewhere. You may also consider yourself relieved of any and all confidentiality burdens with regards to my sobrierty. This is an important decision and I encourage you to discuss it with others. Explain what you have been to me, and what I believe you can be to me. A partner. Oh, and lest you think this is an act of charity, a gift from a grateful client, I assure you it is not. I am better with you, Watson. I’m sharper, I’m more focused. Difficult to say why exactly. Perhaps in time I’ll solve that as well.”
In fact, Sheldon was aware of Watson’s potential very early in the series. This is what he said to her in episode 1×10 “The Leviathan”: “You make an effort to appear convencional, but I know, Watson, that you share my love for all that is bizarre and outside the humdrum routine of ordinary life.”
And, although they have a great bound, but they are still separate individuals that don’t soley depend on one another and their characters continue to develop. In season two finale, Joan wants to move out, but Sherlock has hard time accepting that sort of change. This is what she tells him, in an episode 2×24, “The Grand Experiment”:
“You have this kind of a pull. Like gravity. I’m so lucky that I fell into your orbit. But if we live together, that’s how it will always be. Me, orbiting you. There’ll always be the next case, the next problem. And I will get pulled along. It’s an exciting way to live, but there are consequences. We will work this out. I know that we will. But I need to get my own place.”
And finally, I can’t coprehend how anyone can complain about dialogues in Elementary after hearing the quotes above- that were delivered very well by Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, by the way. Watch the episodes if you don’t believe.
Elementary is actually a pretty good adaptation and it does not insult Sir Arthur Connan Doyle’s work in any way. Actually, Conan Doyle cared very little about Holmes. Writing Sherlock Holmes stories was more of a hobby than passion for him, something that he would write for fun and so he would make some money. He actually started writing the first Sherlock Holmes novel in his ordination while he was waiting for his patients, and was actually annoyed by the fact that his Sherlock Holmes stories were that popular, believing that his History books deserve much more attention. His stories were riddled with continuity errors: in one story he wrote that Mary Morstan was an orphan but in several others he had her visit her mother. In one story he wrote that John got married in 1897, in another story he wrote that it was in 1898, etc. He didn’t really care for character’s names, either, he simply named most of the minor male characters James. Even the most famous one, James Moriarty. In fact, he named James Moriarty’s identical twin brother James Moriarty. Please.
You all say things like “don’t you dare to complain about the points I made even if they are wrong because I wrote this before watching the actual show and I had a right to do so on my personal blog.” You had and have. But having a right to do so and use that right doesn’t make it dor a good article, neither it is a proof of a mature writing. The fact is, you do need to watch at least ten- fifteen episodes to be able to judge the show properly and write an objective and coherent article, a good article. The authors also says that the show must suck because so many American re makes of British TV shows suck: but you forget two things. First, some American remakes actually turn out better than British originals, such as “The Office”. Even if you ignore that, you fail to take in account that ELEMENTARY IS NOT A REMAKE OF BBC’S SHERLOCK, IT IS A MODERN DAY ADAPTATION OF ORIGINAL SHERLOCK STORIES ON IT’S OWN. BBC’S Sherlock isn’t even the first modern day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, by that matter. If you watched the Elementary before writing this article, you would have realized that it doesn’t copy BBC’s Sherlock in any way. That two shows have very little in common.
Also, Sherlock and Watson’s friendship in canon was far from the angsty one in BBC’s Sherlock, and canon Sherlock was not a sociopath. Elementary is even more faithful to it, in a way.
I am a young Caucasian man. Not American, but European (although not British ). I am a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and mystery genre in general. I read pretty much all original Sherlock Holmes stories and watched many Sherlock Holmes adaptations, including BBC’s Sherlock. I wasn’t a fan of Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, or Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freemam for that matter, before watching either of the shows. BBC’s Sherlock is, in my opinion, also very good show, especially when it comes to acting and camera techniques, but it has serious flaws. It is still pretty good as an adaptation though. But I really like Elementary too, and actually prefer it over BBC’s Sherlock. Elementary is a brilliant show on it’s own right and it doesn’t deserve all the hate that it has been getting. I know that the author’s attention was not to turn people away from Elementary (I watched both BBC’s Sherlock and Elementary before reading this article) but it very well may had and was very unfair to people who put their effort in making Elementary the great show that it is, which is why I felt a need to criticize some parts if the article and particular comments, but even more so people who may read it wouldn’t get the wrong idea about the show. But you seem like a good writer and I would like to see you watching season one of Elementary and read your honest review of it.
I don’t know why people make this argument: if you have to watch 10-15 episodes of a show before you can enjoy it, it’s not a good show. Saying I have to tolerate about 10 hours of the program before it gets good does not work in its favour.
And while they claim it’s not a remake of ‘Sherlock’ they’ve clearly used it as the basis for the style of the show and interpretation of the characters.
I didn’t say that you have to watch 10-15 episodes of some show (in this case, Elementary) in order to be able to enjoy it. I said that you have to watch 10-15 episodes of Elementary (or any other show with a similar format, for that matter) in order to really spot all of it’s positive and negative sides and write an objective, well thought out review. The author wrote this particular article without watching a single episode of the show. Many commenters wrote negative things about Elementary and wrote it off as a terrible show based on the one episode or only a trailer that they saw.
Also, I don’t understand how Elementary used BBC Sherlock as a basis. Other than the fact that they are both modern day adaptations of original stories, they have nothing in common, except for a certain canon references (by canon I mean original Sherlock stories) that can be find in many other Sherlock adaptations too, modern day or otherwise…
In BBC Sherlock, Watson is an ex military surgeon who quit practice after getting shot and a white man. In Elementary, Watson is an ex civilian surgeon who quit practice after losing the patient during operation and a woman of color (Asian woman, to be exact).
BBC’s Sherlock has three ninety minute episodes every two years. Elementary has twenty four forty five minutes episodes every season.
BBC Sherlock feautures thought bubbles, so to say, to show us Sherlock’s deducing process, a text written over the screen explaining what Shelrock deduced, matching with the object/body part he drew his findings from. In Elementary, that is shown by Sherlock explaining his findings to Watson and his colleagues and in form of brief flashbacks.
Sherlock takes place in London. Elementary takes place in New York.
Elementary’s Moriarty arc is nothing like the one in BBC Sherlock and Elementary’s Irene Adler and Mrs Hudson don’t even come close to resembling the ones feautured in BBC Sherlock. But again, I am not going to get spoilery. Watch the show if you don’t believe me.
Elementary’s characterization of Sherlock and Joan is very different from the characterization of Sherlock and John in Sherlock, and so is their partnership. That two shows have little to nothing in common. And we can’t know did the BBC Sherlock inspired CBS to make their own version: Elementary premiered two years after Sherlock and there were many other Sherlock Holmes adaptations released or in making at that time and modern day adaptations of Sherlock Holmes were done before. And even if it did, Elementary is still a great show on it’s own right and has nothing in common with BBC Sherlock other than the fact that they are both modern day adaptations of original stories.
I have seen a couple episodes of ‘Elementary’ and I can say it’s an insult to the classic. Since when was Watson a female along with Moriarty who is supposed to be a psychopath, but when presented in this tragedy of a adaptation they don’t show that straight away and instead we are given a female, painter who makes forgeries of paintings and is what seen as a supposed match for Sherlock but makes a better Sherlock than this one. Heck even my English teacher agrees with you and me. I have no clue why everyone says it is better than the show ‘Sherlock’ when it’s not even close to the books whereas ‘Sherlock’ is because the creators both loved the original and that’s why they tried to keep it close to the original, but it doesn’t seem like the creator of ‘Elementary’ cares very much.
Totally agree…. Lucy Liu storyline with fake Sherlock is cringe worthy in the extreme. Now they even bring in Sherlocks Father … can’t the americans find something new to do why hash up original stories… I forgot… they have done this for years and years.