A Study in Sherlock

Danny tackles an upcoming CBS TV show. He doesn’t like where it’s going and he’s going to explain why.

This may not be common knowledge to the rest of the world, but I am a closet Anglophile. I like to think of myself as a person who sees the best of both of the centers of the English speaking world (Australia doesn’t count, apart from beautiful women and extremely dangerous fauna, they don’t really have anything). Being an American (some would say a bit too patriotically), I tend to see all things American through rose-tinted glasses. However, there is one thing that I outright REFUSE to stand by and that is a new upcoming TV series by CBS called ‘Elementary.’

Having not seen the pilot yet, I can’t truly judge it, but I still will, because that’s what I do. A quick summary of Elementary is that it puts the stories of Sherlock Holmes in the modern day, New York City, to be exact. It is said to star Jonny Lee Miller of Trainspotting and Eli Stone fame in the all important role of Sherlock and for the venerable Doctor Watson? Wait for it… Lucy Liu. Yes, Lucy Liu of Ally Mcbeal and Charlie’s Angels remake fame. They made Doctor Watson a woman. I just can’t imagine why that is.


For those of you who aren’t heavily invested in the lore of Sherlock Holmes, it is commonly accepted that it is a valid interpretation that there is the mildest sexual/romantic tension between Holmes and Watson. In fact it’s been portrayed in various movies and television shows. Sometimes, they are portrayed as merely very close colleagues. Sometimes, it’s as if they were brothers. Sometimes, you wouldn’t be surprised if they just started to make out (which hasn’t happened yet, to my knowledge). However, now, with Watson being a woman, a romance is all but certain bar Watson getting killed in the pilot due to a freak accident that is the cause of Sherlock’s doing. What a twist that would be! That would make an extremely interesting show as you get to see Sherlock in grief and depression as he struggles with himself and you see him trying to deal with it however he can by solving cases and maybe even thinking about becoming a criminal himself with his incredible mind?

Hold up a minute… A depressed genius who struggles with pain and solves puzzles and borders on criminality? That’s House! Yup, House is essentially the American Sherlock Holmes already. Played by Hugh Laurie, the parallels are relentless. Let’s not even talk about the names Holmes and House. Both are drug addicts with House on Vicodin and Holmes on Cocaine. Both have little disregard for their clients/patients, but care immensely about their cases. Both are obviously brilliant geniuses who barely give lesser cases a second thought. The American version of Sherlock Holmes has already been on our television screens for 8 years with this year being the final season.

“But wait!” You might exclaim, “House is about medicine, Elementary is about solving crimes, in the modern era and in New York City! Totally different from anything Sherlockian before!” Modern era, crime in New York City? Even if we don’t mention the myriad of police procedurals that are set in New York City like CSI:NY or NYPD Blue, there is already a crime-solving man and woman duo dominating the air at this time: Castle. Starring Nathan Fillion as the brilliant mystery writer Rick Castle who teams up with a brilliant female homicide detective Kate Beckett, played by Stana Katic. They solve crimes together, in New York. Force give Rick Castle a name change and force him to always speak in an English accent and change Beckett’s profession and I don’t really see how Elementary is going to be all that different to Castle. Or Bones, where the genders are reversed.

Let’s not even forget that we have two excellent films starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law about Sherlock Holmes and you would think that our hunger for Holmsian entertainment is quenched. Not quite, for the fantastic, sweet, juicy cherry on the top is the ridiculously fantastically brilliant BBC drama Sherlock (on PBS in the US) which stars the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular character and the fantastic Martin Freeman as Watson. Add the fact that the drama was written by the excellent writers of the popular Doctor Who series and you have the perfect Sherlock Holmes television show which is in the modern era, solving crimes, but in London. Taking the quintessentially British Sherlock Holmes out of Britain is like taking a fish out of water and throwing it into the vacuum of space. It makes no sense and it will kill it.


Add the fact that a third Sherlock Holmes film is already in the works to complete the trilogy, Castle is going strong and BBC’s Sherlock is awaiting a brand new season to come out within 2 to 3 years, there is just no room for Elementary. To the creators of Elementary, please stop the stereotype of American studios taking BBC ideas and ruining them. This is not The Office which could technically be transposed anywhere. This is Sherlock Holmes, Mr British himself. Although I disagree with the notion that Americans ruin shows, I find they make it more accessible to an American audience. But if you seriously think that in order to make Sherlock Holmes accessible to Americans, you first have to throw him in New York and then turn Watson into a woman so that he can then probably fuck her sometime before the series is over, then you are madmen (or women!). So I will put this in the nicest way that I can:

I hope Elementary fucking burns and dies at birth so that the potentially creative American TV industry can make something that is actually intriguing and smart like NBC’s new, upcoming show, Awake.

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