Elementary is America’s ‘go’ at doing a contemporary Sherlock Holmes, while not a remake of the BBC’s Sherlock, it’s hard not to compare the two, and this interpretation is far from the high cheek-boned Sherlock that we Brits are used to.
Set in New York the new series casts Brit- actor Johnny Lee Miller (Dark Shadows, Trainspotting) in the role of Detective Holmes, an interesting choice considering he recently starred alongside our very own modern Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch, in Danny Boyle’s hit stage adaption of Frankenstein during which the two actors alternated roles each evening between Dr. Frankenstein and his creation.
Once again Miller is snapping up Cumberbatch’s role but this time across the Atlantic. Not only is the setting different, but the faithful Doctor Watson has undergone a sex change – not literally of course – but he now goes by the name of Joan Watson, and comes in the shape of Lucy Liu (Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Charlie’s Angels).
There has been some debate over Doctor Watson’s gender reassignment but criticism has centred upon the choice of female star, as Guardian columnist Victoria Coren commented “…there is nothing, literally nothing in the world, that I want to watch less than Lucy Liu as Doctor Watson. I’d sooner see Jeremy Clarkson play Hamlet”.
Despite all this the show aired in the US at the end of September to a good reception, and already on their fifth episode CBS has picked it up for the full series. But then, they did commissione nine seasons of The Office US (Yes, nine.).
The pilot episode sees Dr. Watson fall into the life of Sherlock Holmes as a hired ‘companion’ to help him keep off the drugs. Together they help the NYPD solve a murder, along the way stumbling through a series of loosely connected clues, they eventually find the bad guy, and end up bonding in the process, it all ending in a lovely dinner together. It appears that even from the very first episode the female Watson has just been introduced to play out the boring “will they, won’t they” scenario. But in this instance it’s more a case of will they make it through episode two before they do.
On paper Lee Miller’s Sherlock is closer to Robert Downey Junior’s portrayal of the detective in the Guy Ritchie film adaptions, but in reality he presents more of an awkward character, without the egotistical ass-like persona that Downey Junior pulls off so well. He is also nothing like the rude and quick-witted Sherlock portrayed by Cumberbatch, which captures so closely Conan Doyle’s original literary creation.
There have been more portrayals of the famous detective and his adventures than almost anything else, and while Elementary may have left some fans disappointed – there will doubtless be another hitting our screens before we know it. Make up your own mind and catch the series Tuesday’s at 8pm on Sky Living.