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Elementary: A Look at the Next Sherlock Holmes Interpretation

Elementary: A Look at the Next Sherlock Holmes Interpretation

By Beth Mishler

When we heard there was yet another take on Sherlock Holmes green-lit for the fall TV schedule (Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller) our thoughts were: Really? This franchise is spreading faster than the hatred for King Joffrey in King’s Landing!

But is that a good or a bad thing? With the Robert Downey Jr. reboots and a popular British version currently on PBS, can the legendary character stand yet another makeover? Rather than comparing Elementary directly to its predecessors, we’ve decided to look at what might hit or miss entirely when the newest interpretation of Sherlock Holmes comes to CBS this fall:

POTENTIAL COOL POINTS:

This time, Watson’s a girl!

In perhaps the biggest departure from the original, Lucy Liu has been cast as Dr. Joan Watson. Liu, fresh off a much-lauded performance on Southland, brings a certain “You can’t phase me, punk,” attitude to the role. She has shown propensity to arse-kick in flicks like Kill Bill and Charlie’s Angels. In recent interviews, Liu says that the show is willing to push the envelope, which is encouraging, and her character appears to be her own person instead of seeming like a mere sidekick. We’re interested in seeing what new dimensions she brings to the character.

Sherlock is stocked with major issues

Ripe from rehab and forced to pair with a very sober Watson at his father’s insistence, the Sherlock in Elementary has a drug problem that seems more evident in this show than in recent adaptations. While this isn’t a good thing morally speaking, it might be a good thing conflict-wise for his character. Holmes is also a cultural transplant, as his character has left London to live in a very different but equally crazy city (more on that later), so watching an eccentric and brilliant drug addict teach the NYPD a thing or two might be quite entertaining.

POTENTIAL PRATFALLS:

Any emphasis on sexual tension

Unless they’re Peter and Olivia from Fringe and they have destiny AND multiple timelines on their sides—we do not need another investigator/partner romance. In choosing to go a different route by making Watson female, Elementary runs the risk of flat-lining the heart of the story—the evolving friendship between Sherlock and Watson—and too much focus on any possible hook up between the pair could be way detrimental to both plot and character. We hope this show doesn’t even go there.

It’s on a major network

Nothing personal, CBS, but you and your fellow major networks don’t give as much creative leeway as channels like HBO or BBC (which is largely due to the ratings system), so we’re worried we might see Elementary CSI. We’re hoping its 10 PM timeslot might help the show explore some of the darker parts of the franchise, but only time will tell on this one.

COULD GO EITHER WAY:

It’s set in NYC

We know. Sherlock’s British. That hasn’t changed—Jonny Lee Miller actually gets to rock out his au naturel accent for a change! But the scenery is different. “I answer to no one but myself,” he tells Watson—on a New York subway car, before they go solve a crime in a Manhattan high-rise. Having New York City as a backdrop could be hokey and feel just plain wrong, or the city could become a character itself, much like the Island on LOST. It might be interesting to see how Holmes functions in a foreign city—one that’s chock full of drugs. On the downside, it could also be just a backdrop full of clichés, too.

Regardless of these differences, we’re crossing our fingers and hoping that Elementary does not live up to its name. Elementary will air Thursdays this fall at 10 PM (ET) on CBS.

Will you tune in to watch the new interpretation?

Tags: tv, sherlock holmes, sherlock, cbs

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About the Author
Beth Mishler

Beth Mishler is a writer, producer, and pop culture connoisseur who has a weakness for the Whedonverse and all things sci-fi. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Beth currently lives in The Plains, Ohio, where she freelances, makes documentaries, and watches a kazillion hours of TV per week while anxiously awaiting the release of George R.R. Martin's next novel.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.