//
you're reading...
Interests, Sherlock BBC, Whatever

ELEMENTARY VS. SHERLOCK a critical review

There is no question. The detective of choice of the second decade of the twenty-first century is Sherlock Holmes. He has spawned a couple of successful movies as well as two television shows, BBC’s SHERLOCK and CBS’s ELEMENTARY. So what is the fascination of modern artists with this nineteenth-century detective? And what is my opinion of Elementary? Read on to find out.

Elementary CBS

When Elementary was proposed, most people thought that the Americans were trying to appropriate the success of the highly honored BBC franchise, and they were right. The question was how closely would they copy the formula? Well, I’ve watched the first three episodes of Elementary and season One and Two of Sherlock so I finally feel able to give my assessment. The short answer is have no fear. Elementary is a pretty decent buddy movie, but it doesn’t compare to Sherlock, and it is not a copy.

The premise of Elementary is that a clever consulting detective from London recently released from a drug rehabilitation center in New York has decided to begin consulting in his new home. He is, however, saddled with a live-in guardian of sorts, former surgeon Joan Watson, who is employed to keep him off of the drugs.

The most obvious variation from the original, is that Watson is a woman, but the location is also different (New York vs. London) also Watson is not a veteran.

Sherlock BBC
Sherlock is an updating of the original Sherlock Holmes stories to the modern day. The characters are sketched exactly as they were in the original. A genius criminologist and expert in chemistry meets an army doctor retired from the Afghan wars and moves with him into an apartment at 221B Baker street in London where they start taking cases together. Part of the charm of this series is watching how the writers integrate nineteenth century story-lines with twenty-first century technology.

Elementary, on the other hand, is inspired by the Sherlock Holmes stories more than copying them. The cases that we have been shown (a child predator and serial killer, a series of murders hidden by secret plot) are more in line with other detective stories that we have seen before. In fact, Elementary reminds me most of a cross between buddy cop movies and the star detective dramas of nineteen seventies television.

Please don’t take this as a dig. I loved shows like Columbo and Kojak. Shows that were inspired in turn by Sherlock Holmes. I see Sherlock from Elementary as being on par with those other detectives (Actually Columbo may have been a bit smarter). I can see Sherlock’s genius, but it seems generic. I could imagine him going into other careers such as becoming the world chess champion, or a master chef. His observation, precision, and dedication are admirable, but not necessarily unique, and as to his relationship with Watson, they get along well, but in many ways he seems not to need her at all.

I think that the fear that this would simply become a romance is unjustified. I see no sexual chemistry. The characters are adults, and I could imagine them having sex with each other, but there is no feeling that this would affect their intellectual relationship. The thing that they seem to have in common is an ability to divorce their emotions from their goals.

For example, in one scene Sherlock plans to stay up all night looking through case files. He fears that Watson will insist that he get sleep and rest like a normal person. Watson, med school valadictorian, shows him a trick to keep him awake that she used when she crammed for tests so that he can finish.

Sherlock has a completely different feel. The title character in BBC’s Sherlock varies from the cannon Sherlock Holmes by being younger, and less emotionally stable. His genius is sharp and easy to see, but like a candle burning bright, he seems constantly in danger of being snuffed out. John Watson is personable, but depressed at being retired from the one job that gave his life purpose. It doesn’t take much for the audience to see that they were made for each other.

The emotional stability aspect of the show is introduced in episode one and is a major part of the series. In many ways, it overshadows the crimes which are derived in part from adventures by Sir Conan Doyle.

For example, (SPOILER FOLLOWS) the cliffhanger at the end of season two shows Watson watching Sherlock fall to his death after a confrontation with his nemesis Moriarty. Why is this a cliffhanger? The bad guy is dead, and Sherlock survived. The tragedy is that our two main characters have been violently separated. They have survived, but they must live with the aftermath of having been temporarily happy, and now they are thrust back into the chaos they felt at the beginning of the series when they were alone, only  this is worse because they remember what it felt like to be whole.

PSYCHOLOGICAL STABILITY

Sherlock in Elementary is a recovering drug addict. Even so, he seems pretty stable crashing cars notwithstanding. He seems like he is, at most, a menace to himself. We can’t see him becoming a serial killer or bomber. What we do see in him is the spark of genius. A genius that could be released in many ways. Generalist.

Sherlock
The man is unstable. We seriously doubt that he will live to be forty. He enjoys danger too much. He pushes dangerous people to get a reaction, and forges ahead without backup. The instability of his character means that some of the most stressful moments in the series are when he has nothing to do. Once he has a case, we know exactly where he will be, on the trail. He is a hunter of big game, and like them we fear that when all the game are gone, he may come gunning for us out of boredom. Specialist.

SETTING

Elementary
Set in NewYork, but it could be somewhere else. They say New York is a character, but the shots are mostly typical two shots. I don’t see the kind of cinematic photography that is the hallmark of Sherlock. I see very pretty colors, I see warm views, interesting sets. I don’t really get the feel of a big city, because most of the images look suburban.

Elementary could be New York, or Chicago, or even LA. Where they live doesn’t seem so important. New Yorkers will probably violently disagree with me, but for most people who don’t live there, one hot dog stand looks much like another.

Sherlock
Sherlock is super-urban. Other than in the Hound of the Baskervilles, they are in a big city doing things that can only be done in a big city. This gives it more of a fixed setting, It couldn’t happen anywhere else.

Also, “Britishness” is a character from the union jack pillow to Buckingham palace.
Case in point, tea with Moriarty. What could be more British than enemies sitting together and sharing a cup of tea like gentlemen. The tea cups even have a map of the UK on the side.

As an adaptation of a nineteenth century work, there is a juxtaposition between the future and the past in Sherlock. Sherlock feels like the future. His phone is definitely a few years ahead. Nobody has such good phone service.

Elementary feels like the past to me. It harkens back to the buddy police dramas of the seventies, but in a good way. They use paper files and there is less conspicuous technology. It shows more of a focus on brainpower and psychology to solve crime.

Elementary feels cozy, one story in a city full of stories. Their story is more interesting than most, and that is why we are here. We feel the possibility of success, and we want to see it through.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Sherlock
The cinematography is excellent. The show is shot like a film, and many shots are ones that are traditionally too expensive for a television show. That is because a series for Sherlock is three episodes.

The look varies from bright grey-white and shiny, to darker yellow-orange and intimate. There is a overabundance of reflections and shimmering tones that prevents it from drifting into noir.

Art is often apparent in the composition, and although it is a crime to make the look more noticeable than the plot, the cleverness of the shot usually ends up amplifying the cleverness of the characters. One also has to mention the clever use of on screen text to prevent slowing down the story by having someone repeat what is seen or observed.

Elementary
Elementary is shot as a television show. It is not overly cinematic and the shots are dominated by more typical two shots. This is not to say that it is poorly shot. Actually, it looks very nice. The images are crisp and colorful. The pallet warm. His house is quirky and comfortable, and the police station looks comparatively colder and more impersonal as it should.

I like the title sequence. It shows a Rube Goldberg machine following a marble down a clever path. It is cute, and this suggests the cleverness of Sherlock Holmes, but other than being intricate and having a revolver it has little to do with the show. There is no revolver in the show at all.

COSTUME

Elementary
The publicity shots for Elementary look like copies of the title photos for the BBC show. The principles are wearing black coats, and Sherlock has his scarf tied in a way that has become a hallmark on Sherlock. Perhaps the producers felt that they would get increased DVD sales if people mistake which show they are buying, I don’t know why they are dressed this way, because they don’t look that way most of the time in the show.

The look is casual bordering on trashy. Knits, low cut shirts, and layered sweats.
Bare midriff and showing lots of skin (I’m talking about him). These things betray a desire to raise ratings by showing off their actor’s pretty bodies. It is true that Johnny Lee Miller is quite fit, and the tattoos are surprisingly sexy, but it’s a totally different vibe from the other Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock
They say that women go crazy for a sharp dressed man, and that is certainly the case for Sherlock. The main character is rarely shown without a suit. Sir Conan Doyle wrote that Sherlock dressed neatly and conservatively, and suits are definitely conservative. But the costumers have gone above and beyond by fitting many of their characters in exceptionally good-looking designer clothes. So much so that Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch received a GQ style award.

The clothes for Sherlock, his brother Mycroft, Irene Adler, and the main villain Moriarty were exceptionally fine. They have their own fan pages.
There is something refreshing about the return to formality found in the show. It speaks of money, and success, and an attention to detail of appearance that the casual clothes of the last fifty years do not. It is just another thing that sets the look of this show apart from the others on the air. A fan could tell from a shoe, or a coat what show they were watching, and the clothes that are shown invariably sell out soon after the show airs. Good luck trying to find a coat like Sherlock’s. They were one of the first things to sell out (at least in the ladies sizes).

CHARACTERIZATION

Elementary has two interesting characters. A genius detective just out of rehab, and a former doctor who left her career under mysterious circumstances. Sherlock as a recovering drug user is weird. I don’t believe him as an addict. We don’t see him showing much addictive behavior, although he does act sometimes as if he is on speed. I don’t see any remorse about the drug use for Sherlock. I feel that Watson could leave the house, and he could shoot up the next hour, or never again. I can believe that he was an addict, but I don’t know what he’s addicted too.

the back story of the characters is introduced in the first episode. It is interesting, but I am not overly curious. I don’t feel a strong desire to delve into it. Overall, I like them. I find them interesting to watch, but when I am not watching it, they fall from my thoughts like melted snow.

The characters in Sherlock are compelling. They are not us, but they evoke our empathy.  The show is perilous not only in the physical landscape (chasing criminals through the streets of London), but also in the emotional landscape (John’s depression and PTSD, Sherlock’s bipolar impulsive personality). It’s as if there is a puzzle placed before us that we know how to solve (just keep Sherlock and John together), and yet we must watch the others struggling to find the answer.

This emotional dynamic pulls us along for the ride so that we feel more for them than other characters. We want them to heal each other and to find their own form of peace, but every new case adds the danger that they might be separated by the finality of death, so they should live each day as if it may be their last. Compelling.

In Sherlock, we know that Sherlock is a danger addict, jumping from building to building for the fun of it. We can believe that he is titillated by the thought that he might die at any moment. The funny thing is that we don’t see him as suicidal.

(Spoiler Alert) This makes it all the more poignant when he jumps from the roof at the end of the final episode of season two. John knows, as do we, that Sherlock is not generally suicidal, so why jump? This unanswered question is left there to tear John to pieces for the entire gap between series two and three, and this is why the fans have gone insane about this ending. They feel for John.

FANDOM

Elementary is trying to copy some of the online games and activities that were used to advertise Sherlock, but I don’t think that this will succeed. The fanbases are different, and I don’t think that the kind of fans that Elementary will attract will be the sort of obsessive fan women that are attracted to Sherlock. My best guess for a fan base will be men 21-32 who think Lucy Liu is sexy and want to imagine being smart and living with a hot babe. Also, a subset of females 15 – 25 who think that Johnny Lee Miller is cute.

The Sherlock fandom is overwhelmingly women. Benedict Cumberbatch is an acquired taste when it comes to beauty, and Martin Freeman is older and shorter than your basic heart throb, but the combination of them and their characters is enough to make millions of women go weak at the knees.

Sherlock is also intellectually challenging, because it encourages one to read the original works and figure out how they will be adapted to the modern day. When the names of the episodes are announced, there is a burst of speculation on how it will be presented. Just look at the old posts about The Hound of the Baskervilles. Would it be a real dog? If not, then what? Would it be scary? Fans went wild.

The other thing that affects the fandom is the format. Because of the extremely long time between seasons, fans have only each other for company for long stretches of time. This means that they talk about the show, and blog about the show, and write stories about the characters until there is an entire mythology of Sherlock that is completely different from what was ever aired or written. If you want a peek, look for the following keywords in association with Sherlock (hedgehog, otter, purple shirt of sex, crazy kitty jumper, jam).

IN CLOSING

Elementary did not merit the fears expressed before it was shown that it was a straight copy of the BBC show. The fact that it is filmed as a regular series, that the plots are not based on the cannon work, that the writers are not obsessive Conan Doyle fans, and that the setting is not London make enough of a difference that the shows feel miles apart from each other.

So, although I think that Elementary is an admirable effort, and a decent show with the feel of classic detective television, I’d much rather be watching Sherlock.

Advertisements

About rozzychan

Rosalyn Hunter is the principal writer on the series Lunatics. Please support us. http://lunatics.tv

Discussion

25 thoughts on “ELEMENTARY VS. SHERLOCK a critical review

  1. *Possible spoilers from season one and two to follow.*
    Sorry about replying so late, I was busy. No, Ryan and I are not the same persons. I only used “flew over people’s heads” phrase because he did and I was referring to his comment in some ways. And yes that statement was a look back at original Holmes but also a clever piece of monologue because it was not only a very subtle canon refference but it actually did raise some interesting questions. Could really have such a negative affect on people like Sherlock? Can the modern day life and stress really be a factor in driving people into addictions, which could be one of the reasons why some of the drugs that were legal in nineteenth and early twentieth century now ilegall? Both season finales (in season one that being episodes 1×23 “The Woman” and 1×24 “Heroine”, in season two that being 2×23 “Art in the Blood” and 2×24 “A Grand Experiment)  managed to bring the best out of characters, actor’s performances and writing (in my opinion).
    I like their music choices too: such as “Bloodlines” by “Barbarossa” on the end of episode 1×2 “While You Were Sleeping”, “Start Anew” by “Beady Eye” on the end of episode 1×24 “Heroine” and “Wrapped In My Memory” on the end of episode 2×20 “No Lack Of Void” and they always seem to, combined with actor’s performances, add perfectly to an atmosphere of the episode and help everything wrap up and get to a conclusion in the end.
    I also enjoy Elementary’s diversity. In Sherlock, almost every important character is straight, white a man. Irene Adler was supposed to be homosexual but she somehow managed to fall in love with Sherlock. And their portrayal of Asian people in Blind Banker was just ridiculous. I don’t think that writers are doing it on purpose but it still very annoying and even offensive, at least to me. Sure, Sherlock it’s just a TV show, but it is popular and media has proven to have a great impact on people’s beliefs and behaviour. It also can be unrealistic since any reasonable person would know that Asian culture was shown in stereotypical manner in that episode and that Caucasian men and women make for only 40% of modern day London population. In Elementary, we have Joan Watson, Sherlock best friend and crime solving partner, who is an Asian woman, detective Marcus Bell,  African American man and competent investigator with whom Sherlock manages to build a good and respectable although angsty partnership (while the detective introduced in pilot was Hispanic man), Alfredo, African American man and former drug addict that is now clean, has a job, is Sherlock’s sponsor, and often manages to talk sense into him when even Joan can’t, Randy, African American man and former drug addict who has Sherlock as his sponsor, mrs Hudson, transgender woman who is an expert in Ancient Greek and who assisted to Sherlock on several cases, Sherlock’s best friend Alistair was homosexual (I say was because he passed away as said in episode 2×20 “No Lack Of Void”-although it is also possible that he was bisexual because he lived with a man-his life partner-at the time of his death, but it was said that he used to be married and had a son), woman who assisted to Sherlock and Joan on a case in episode 2×14 “Dead Clade Walking” was homosexual, and, last but not least, they have, Jamie Moriarty, the woman who worked as consulting criminal and secret kingpin for years, even managing to seduce and delude Sherlock Holmes, and who, despite being brought to justice in the end, still managed to keep the right amount of charisma, intelligence and wit that still make her an interesting and complex character-and a possible threat. It is not only enjoyable and refreshing but it also adds to realism since New York is big and multi cultural city. And despite that the show never shades away from the fact that people of all racesx are capable of doing something wrong while in the same time never being stereotypical: in episode 1×7 “One Way to Get Off” one of the murderers turns out to be a Mexican man,  in episode 1×9 “You Do It To Yourself” murder that they were investigating is connected to an ilegall Chinese gambling place (although not directly) and murderer turns out to be a Hispanic man (although white man was involved in a scheme as well), in episode 1×10 “The Leviathan” the murderer turns out to be an African American man, one of Moriarty’s agents also turns out to be an African American man as seen in an episode 2×12 “The Diabolical Kind”, Alfredo admits that he was engaged in criminal activities when he was younger etc. Over the course of forty eight episodes Sherlock and Joan get mistaken for a couple only two times, only once it being used for a comic relief, and their relationship is refreshingly platonic, focused on creating an actual friendship between Sherlock and Joan rather than making moving in direction of making them a couple. And all that gay jokes about Sherlock and John’s friendship in BBC Sherlock really spoil their friendship and are annoying now. 
    So, although I like Sherlock too, mainly because it’s brilliant photography and acting, casting choices, clever and logical mysteries and occassional quick-witted dialogue, I like Elementary more because of it’s unique and original yet respectable approach to source material, equally good acting and casting choices, refreshing platonic bond between Sherlock and Joan and it’s diversity. I know that some of my points regarding BBC Sherlock may come off as harsh but it is simply because all of it’s good sides were already mentioned in your article and I think that some things about Elementary had to be said. I think that Elementary is better and more original than BBC Sherlock bit I think that BBC Sherlock is pretty close in comparison. That is just my opinion though.
    I know that some people complain about the lack of canon references in Elementary but I don’t think that it is that bad. Canon references in Elementary are more subtle, like Easter Eggs for the fans. Sherlock’s bee keeping, violin playing, naming Mycroft’s chain of restaurants Diogenes, etc. Maybe the best example would be episode 1×15 “A Giant Gun, Filled With Drugs”, that has three subtle canon references: in the beginning, on a sobriety meeting, Sherlock, feeling uncomfortable to talk about his addiction at the time, tells fellow addicts about one of his cases, obviously “The Adventure of the Crooked Man”, later in the episode, while working on an abduction case, he mentions that he can identify 140 cigarettes and cigar brands based on their ashes that he wrote a monography about that (he mentions that again in episode 2×15 “Corpse de Ballet”), and he also mentions ” The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”. I like the way they base their episodes on the original stories at times (episodes 1×20 “Dead Man’s Switch” and 2×9 “On the Line” are good examples of that). Perhaps the most original adaptation of canon stories is episode 2×17 “Hound of the Cancer Cells”, where “hound” turns out to be a new breathalyzer used to detect cancer by analysing patient’s breath, it’s name being based upon the phenomenom of dogs being able to detect cancer using their sense of smell, and it is a subject of a murder investigation, is in a very touching subplot story involving detective Bell. I think that Sherlock and Watson’s friendship, heart of the canon, is more canon in Elementary than in Sherlock, despite characters being changed externally. The show also dealt with many serious subjects such as addiction, betrayal, bullying, loss (especially when it came to Watson’s medical history and detective Bell dealing with his injury in season two) etc. in very mature manner. Sherlock did touch upon that with John’s PTSD story but I have a feeling that they really didn’t explore that as much as they could. In conclusion, I think that Elementary is one of the best shows on the air so far and definitely worth giving a try, although it is very underrated. But who knows, few years from now it may enjoy the same status as previously underrated shows-such as “The Wire”-do.

    Posted by Mislav | October 16, 2014, 8:15 pm
  2. Both shows are good and I enjoy both, but as “Art” ‘Elementary’ is streets ahead of ‘Sherlock’. It’s format is a help, of course, but it has a depth of characterization and a development of character that ‘Sherlock’ just couldn’t reproduce. ‘Sherlock’ is a child’s cartoon by comparison. The ‘Elementary’ plots may have factual holes in them, but the plots are a minor matter to show like this.

    Posted by Robert | May 16, 2014, 5:16 am
  3. I just don’t see how anyone could like Elementary. It is nothing but a generic US detective tv show. It uses the same equation as CSI, The Mentalist, Law & Order, NCIS, etc., etc. They just happened to name the main character Sherlock and his side-kick Watson. The plots to each crime in each episode are just sad. For example the episode Solve for X. The sub-plot is Lucy asks to borrow money!! Wow! Why does she ask because someone wants her to invest in a bar. what a creative subplot. It gets worse in this episode. Lucy kills the kids Dad in an operation after she admits it was a relatively easy procedure. Her excuse is I don’t know what happened it just did. Sherlock tells her it was just an accident. No it was not just an accident its called negligence and incompetence. Then I notice Sherlock has tattoos and he actually has a tat of his own London address! Now that is lol ridiculous. Who in the hell has a tat of there own address?? Now Baker St is a famous address, but to the reader and viewer not the character. And the whole idea of Moriarty being Sherlock’s lover. How stupid of an idea is that. Not only is Moriarty a woman, but she completely made an ass out of Sherlock as he had no idea who she was. Elementary is just too generic, the characters are too boring. This is the absolute worst job an actor has ever done playing Sherlock, not that the actor has any help with the pathetic writing. The dialog is bad and boring, the characters are boring, the police are boring. Its just a boring uninteresting show. Moriarty and Sherlock’s rivalry seems so small potatoes. It is not Sherlock and Watson solving the crimes they are constantly with the police. On stake out with the police, at police headquarters. They just seem like 2 police detectives. I am quite sure those who love Elementary probably like the Mentalretardist, Law & Order, CSI, NCIS never at all noticing they are all just basically the same thing following the same equation. And for the commentor who stated that the Moriarty thing blew his/her’s mind. What a simpleton you must be.

    Posted by James | February 3, 2014, 2:19 pm
    • Now, stay calm.

      I agree that Elementary is very much a police drama, but then again, that formula has worked in the US for years and years. I do think that it is a bit of a waste to call him Sherlock Holmes because I just don’t see the character in Elementary as being very different from other later incarnations of the modern police detective (and he should be.)

      About Moriarty being a woman, I do think that it had potential, but it’s hard to separate that from the dragon woman cliche. Even so, I like their Moriarty. I think that she feels like a threat still, but mostly because Sherlock is such a pushover. I should say that he’s an optimist twelve-stepper who is trying to convert her.

      In fact the conversion of Sherlock into a drug addict convert is the most unique thing about this show in my opinion, but it is so ordinary and boring. Not worth basing a series on. So, I disagree that it is all bad, but I know where you are coming from.

      Posted by rozzychan | February 3, 2014, 11:38 pm
      • There seems to be a split in opinion between the professional critics and many of the great unwashed on this program. Rotten Tomatoes gave the second series a 100% rating. That doesn’t happen very often. I can see where those who think the show ordinary and boring are coming from too. Perhaps the biggest problem with ‘Elementary’ is that its strengths are over so many people’s heads. Part of Shakespeare’s genius was that he included material that appealed to a wide range of abilities. Perhaps ‘Elementary’ has fallen short in this respect.

        Posted by Robert | May 16, 2014, 5:43 am
    • Many think the “Moriarty thing” brilliant, and they are certainly not all simpletons. Yes, ‘Elementary’ has most of the features of a police procedural, but hell of a lot more besides. ‘Elementary’s’ dialogue and vocabulary is miles ahead of ‘Sherlock’ which is simply clever and lacks any real depth — or any character development. It is not the plot or the “equation” that makes ‘Elementary’. That it follows the same equation as other shows is true, but then you might just as well argue that Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ follows the same equation as a Mills and Boon novel. Miller’s portrayal of Sherlock is the most nuanced and brilliant ever. And the secondary characters in ‘Elementary’ are also streets ahead of those in ‘Sherlock’ — they are real, three-dimensional people in their own right, as opposed to the one-dimensional cyphers in ‘Sherlock’. I’m not going to throw the word “simpleton” around; it may just be possible that I am missing something myself. 😉

      Posted by Robert | May 16, 2014, 5:34 am
      • I don’t really like that I either have to be a professional critic or the great unwashed. I may have missed something, as I never found the dialog for elementary particularly noteworthy, but I am willing to be swayed. Come tell me, what are some of the dialog pieces that you particularly enjoyed? What subtle things did they put in the show that went over my heads? I probably missed it. (oh, and please post spoiler warnings.)

        Posted by rozzychan | May 16, 2014, 5:18 pm
      • *Possible spoilers from season one and two to follow.*
        I can’t speak for the original poster, but I think that dialogues and monologues in Elementary are great, with great word choices. Much better than those in Sherlock. 
        This is a part of a dialogue from episode 1×16 “Details”. Joan’s job as Sherlock’s sober companion ended in episode 1×12 “M” but she lied about his father continuing to hire her so she would continue working with him, because she learned that she enjoys working on cases with him. He found out about that, and, seeing Joan’s potential, decided to suggest Joan to start working as a detective with him, become his trainee. He confronts her and he says:
        “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 season two finale, episode 2×24 “Grand Experiment”, Joan wants to move out, find her own place, but continue working with Sherlock. Sherlock tries to convince her to stay living with him. He claims that is because she isn’t completely formed as a detective yet, but it is obvious that she is one of the rare true friends that he has and that he doesn’t want to be apart from her (one of his friends died four episodes prior). This is what she tells him.
        “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.”
        Which shows that she cares about him, and they are good friends, but they are also not completely dependet on each other, and are still separate individuals.
        This is what Jamie Moriarty says to Sherlock in episode 1×24 “Heroine”. “You look at people and you see puzzles. I see games. You? You’re the game I’ll win everytime.”
        It is a short statement but very well put and explains a lot about them, their relationship. They are so similar when it comes to interests, talents, skills, but what makes a difference is the way they use their skills and talents. Sherlock uses them to solve puzzles, mysteries, to help people. She is using them to manipulate people. They are attracted to each other because of many similarities that they have: but that one difference is the reason why they can never be together. Since she has equally good or even better deduction skills than him, and isn’t afraid to use them for evil, she is a constant threat to him. They can only be enemies.
        Heck, just read the monologue from episode 2×12 “The Diabolical Kind”, a letter that Sherlock wrote to Moriarty.
        “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.”
        Lots of subtle hints and symbolism was given about Moriarty too, before her identity was revealed. When we first see her in the flashback, in episode 1×23 ” The Woman”, as Irene Adler, she almost seems too perfect: beautiful, smart, and she seduces Sherlock in the matter of minutes. She even has seven moles on her back, perfectly lined up.
        And, in the end, her moles, that over the top perfection, is what marks her downfall. While she is getting dressed, Sherlock notices that one of the moles had been surgically removed, meaning that she wasn’t a prisoner for all that years as she lead Sherlock to believe. Almost immediately after Sherlock notices, she starts wearing black: she puts on the black T-shirt, as opposed to white or light colored clothes that she had been wearing all the time. Her identity isn’t revealed until the end of the episode, but in that scene her mask fell off. That is where it was made obvious that Irene is just an illusion. The only real her is Jamie Moriarty.
        And in episode 1×12 “M”, Sebastian Moran tells Sherlock: “You can kill me because of the others, but *your girlfriend, that was he. That was Moriarty.*” Clues and symbolism were there, but most of it flew over people’s heads.
        And regarding your statement that Sherlock’s drug addiction is boring and not worth basing a series upon… I am just going to leave this dialogue from episode 2×7 “The Marchioness” here:
        (Sherlock is on a sobriety (support) meeting.)
        A PARTICIPANT: Lets do open discussion before we wrap up. I have kind of, uh, different topic on mind. Craziest thoughts about your disease. You know what I mean. You know they’re nuts, but they just keep popping into your head anyway.
        SHERLOCK: I often wonder if I should have been born in another time. Sorry, my name is Sherlock, and I’m an addict.
        OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Hi, Sherlock.
        SHERLOCK: My-my senses are unusually– well, one could even say unnaturally– keen.
        And ours is an era of distraction.
        It’s, uh, a punishing drumbeat of constant input.
        This-this cacophony which follows us into our homes and into our beds and seeps into our into our souls, for want of a better word.
        For a long time, uh, there was only one poultice for my raw nerve endings, and that was, uh, copious drug use.
        So in my less productive moments, I’m given to wonder if I’d just been born when it was a little quieter out there, would I have even become an addict in the first place? Might I have been more focused? A more fully realized person? 
        ANOTHER FORMER ADDICT: What, like Ancient Greece? 
        SHERLOCK: You have any idea what passed for dental care in the Hellenic era? No, no, I’d, um, I’d want some of the wonders of modernity. Just before everything got… amplified.”
        And regarding your statement about Sherlock not showing any addictive behaviour: he was in rehab for six months before Joan started working with him. She is not supposed to get him off the drugs but help him get back to his normal life and prevent him from re-lapsing.
        And if you have no sympathy for Sherlock regarding his drug addiction, you probably didn’t watch episodes “While You Were Sleeping” “The Rat Race” and “A Dead Man’s Switch”.

        Posted by Mislav | October 9, 2014, 9:23 pm
      • I always thought that that “another time” thing was just a call back to the original Sherlock Holmes.

        Mislav, I gotta ask. Are you and Robert the same person?

        Posted by rozzychan | October 10, 2014, 4:58 am
      • *Possible spoilers from season one and two to follow.*
        Sorry about replying so late, I was busy. No, Ryan and I are not the same persons. I only used “flew over people’s heads” phrase because he did and I was referring to his comment in some ways. And yes that statement was a look back at original Holmes but also a clever piece of monologue because it was not only a very subtle canon refference but it actually did raise some interesting questions. Could really have such a negative affect on people like Sherlock? Can the modern day life and stress really be a factor in driving people into addictions, which could be one of the reasons why some of the drugs that were legal in nineteenth and early twentieth century now ilegall? Both season finales (in season one that being episodes 1×23 “The Woman” and 1×24 “Heroine”, in season two that being 2×24 “A Grand Experiment)  managed to bring the best out of characters, actor’s performances and writing (in my opinion).
        I like their music choices too: such as “Bloodlines” by “Barbarossa” on the end of episode 1×2 “While You Were Sleeping”, “Start Anew” by “Beady Eye” on the end of episode 1×24 “Heroine” and “Wrapped In My Memory” on the end of episode 2×20 “No Lack Of Void” and they always seem to, combined with actor’s performances, add perfectly to an atmosphere of the episode and help everything wrap up and get to a conclusion in the end.
        I also enjoy Elementary’s diversity. In Sherlock, almost every important character is straight, white a man. Irene Adler was supposed to be homosexual but she somehow managed to fall in love with Sherlock. And their portrayal of Asian people in Blind Banker was just ridiculous. I don’t think that writers are doing it on purpose but it still very annoying and even offensive, at least to me. Sure, Sherlock it’s just a TV show, but it is popular and media has proven to have a great impact on people’s beliefs and behaviour. It also can be unrealistic since any reasonable person would know that Asian culture was shown in stereotypical manner in that episode and that Caucasian men and women make for only 40% of modern day London population. In Elementary, we have Joan Watson, Sherlock best friend and crime solving partner, who is an Asian woman, detective Marcus Bell,  African American man and competent investigator with whom Sherlock manages to build a good and respectable although angsty partnership (while the detective introduced in pilot was Hispanic man), Alfredo, African American man and former drug addict that is now clean, has a job, is Sherlock’s sponsor, and often manages to talk sense into him when even Joan can’t, Randy, African American man and former drug addict who has Sherlock as his sponsor, mrs Hudson, transgender woman who is an expert in Ancient Greek and who assisted to Sherlock on several cases, Sherlock’s best friend Alistair was homosexual (I say was because he passed away as said in episode 2×20 “No Lack Of Void”-although it is also possible that he was bisexual because he lived with a man-his life partner-at the time of his death, but it was said that he used to be married and had a son), woman who assisted to Sherlock and Joan on a case in episode 2×14 “Dead Clade Walking” was homosexual, and, last but not least, they have, Jamie Moriarty, the woman who worked as consulting criminal and secret kingpin for years, even managing to seduce and delude Sherlock Holmes, and who, despite being brought to justice in the end, still managed to keep the right amount of charisma, intelligence and wit that still make her an interesting and complex character-and a possible threat. It is not only enjoyable and refreshing but it also adds to realism since New York is big and multi cultural city. And despite that the show never shades away from the fact that people of all racesx are capable of doing something wrong while in the same time never being stereotypical: in episode 1×7 “One Way to Get Off” one of the murderers turns out to be a Mexican man,  in episode 1×9 “You Do It To Yourself” murder that they were investigating is connected to an ilegall Chinese gambling place (although not directly) and murderer turns out to be a Hispanic man (although white man was involved in a scheme as well), in episode 1×10 “The Leviathan” the murderer turns out to be an African American man, one of Moriarty’s agents also turns out to be an African American man as seen in an episode 2×12 “The Diabolical Kind”, Alfredo admits that he was engaged in criminal activities when he was younger etc. Over the course of forty eight episodes Sherlock and Joan get mistaken for a couple only two times, only once it being used for a comic relief, and their relationship is refreshingly platonic, focused on creating an actual friendship between Sherlock and Joan rather than making moving in direction of making them a couple. And all that gay jokes about Sherlock and John’s friendship in BBC Sherlock really spoil their friendship and are annoying now. 
        So, although I like Sherlock too, mainly because it’s brilliant photography and acting, casting choices, clever and logical mysteries and occassional quick-witted dialogue, I like Elementary more because of it’s unique and original yet respectable approach to source material, equally good acting and casting choices, refreshing platonic bond between Sherlock and Joan and it’s diversity. I know that some of my points regarding BBC Sherlock may come off as harsh but it is simply because all of it’s good sides were already mentioned in your article and I think that some things about Elementary had to be said. I think that Elementary is better and more original than BBC Sherlock bit I think that BBC Sherlock is pretty close in comparison. That is just my opinion though.
        I know that some people complain about the lack of canon references in Elementary but I don’t think that it is that bad. Canon references in Elementary are more subtle, like Easter Eggs for the fans. Sherlock’s bee keeping, violin playing, naming Mycroft’s chain of restaurants Diogenes, etc. Maybe the best example would be episode 1×15 “A Giant Gun, Filled With Drugs”, that has three subtle canon references: in the beginning, on a sobriety meeting, Sherlock, feeling uncomfortable to talk about his addiction at the time, tells fellow addicts about one of his cases, obviously “The Adventure of the Crooked Man”, later in the episode, while working on an abduction case, he mentions that he can identify 140 cigarettes and cigar brands based on their ashes that he wrote a monography about that (he mentions that again in episode 2×15 “Corpse de Ballet”), and he also mentions ” The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”. I like the way they base their episodes on the original stories at times (episodes 1×20 “Dead Man’s Switch” and 2×9 “On the Line” are good examples of that). Perhaps the most original adaptation of canon stories is episode 2×17 “Hound of the Cancer Cells”, where “hound” turns out to be a new breathalyzer used to detect cancer by analysing patient’s breath, it’s name being based upon the phenomenom of dogs being able to detect cancer using their sense of smell, and it is a subject of a murder investigation, is in a very touching subplot story involving detective Bell. I think that Sherlock and Watson’s friendship, heart of the canon, is more canon in Elementary than in Sherlock, despite characters being changed externally. The show also dealt with many serious subjects such as addiction, betrayal, bullying, loss (especially when it came to Watson’s medical history and detective Bell dealing with his injury in season two) etc. in very mature manner. Sherlock did touch upon that with John’s PTSD story but I have a feeling that they really didn’t explore that as much as they could. In conclusion, I think that Elementary is one of the best shows on the air so far and definitely worth giving a try, although it is very underrated. But who knows, few years from now it may enjoy the same status as previously underrated shows-such as “The Wire”-do.

        Posted by Mislav | October 16, 2014, 8:13 pm
    • Another Sherlock fangirl who probably didn’t even watch Elementary and can’t even stand the possibility of something being better than Sherlock or the possibility of another modern day adaptation being made.

      Posted by Mislav | September 24, 2014, 9:15 pm
      • Now, now, there is no need to call people names.
        Everyone has different tastes, and different people like different types of shows. This is no reason to discount each other as a person.

        Sherlock Holmes is, I think, the character that has the most portrayals in television and movies. Just because someone prefers an actor like Jeremy Brett doesn’t mean that other actors did a crappy job of it. Nor does it mean that those people are wrong not to like him.

        I originally made this post not to insult any production, but to address the issue of copying. When this show was announced, all of the evidence, down to the way he tied his scarf, suggested that this was going to be a copycat show. I think that now we can clearly say that it is not.

        The shows have a very different feel to them. It is perfectly valid to prefer one to another. Let us agree not to call each other names simply because we don’t have the same preferences.

        Posted by rozzychan | September 25, 2014, 4:57 am
      • My reply wasn’t meant to you, it was meant to James.

        Posted by Mislav | September 25, 2014, 7:37 am
      • And sorry, but despite the fact that it was made clear from the start that Elementary will not only not be a copy of BBC Sherlock, but that will also take place in New York, while BBC Sherlock takes place in London, that Elementary will have twenty four episodes per season while Sherlock has three episodes every two years, and that Elementary’s Watson will be a woman of color rather than white man in BBC version, you focused on the way that Sherlock ties his scarf and took it as a proof that Elementary will be a copy of BBC Sherlock?
        That way we could also accuse Steven Moffat of copying House M.D. because dynamic between the two main leads in Sherlock is much more similar to the one in House M.D. than the one from original Sherlock Holmes stories.

        Posted by Mislav | October 6, 2014, 10:12 am
      • No.
        The dynamic comes form the fact that all of these stories: Elementary, Sherlock, and House are simply fan fiction copies of the original Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories.

        Posted by rozzychan | October 7, 2014, 12:16 pm
  4. Robert Downey Jr. is a better (and better-looking) Sherlock Holmes than either of them. And his Sherlock movies are amazing. I don’t mind the “21st-century” Sherlocks, but Downey kicks ass.

    Posted by Ganieda Moher | December 18, 2013, 11:42 pm
    • It’s interesting how each version of Sherlock is a very different person even though they are the same character.

      Downey is the reckless, lovelorn fighter.
      Cumberbatch is the rude but loveable problemsolver.
      Miller is the 12stepper that also solves crimes.

      All completely different takes on the same character.

      Posted by rozzychan | December 19, 2013, 10:56 pm
  5. Sherlock is always gonna be the best. I read the books first and then watched the bbc show. I will always be a fan of Sherlock.

    Posted by Tauriel hobbit | November 1, 2013, 11:17 pm
    • I find that BBC Sherlock is a lot closer to the books. Elementary to me seems to stray more from canon, for example by having Mycroft be a chef.

      I do think that the lack of chemistry between the leads will make it easier, however, for us to avoid imagining them as a romantic couple. (One place that the fan’s view of Sherlock is less than canon.) Watching Elementary, I find myself wanting Joan to get married to someone else and move out.

      I also love Sherlock.

      Posted by rozzychan | November 3, 2013, 7:52 am
  6. I would say that any man is an acquired taste. I never got the appeal of most boys bands (although Joey Macintyre and Jordan Knight of KKOTB have been looking pretty good lately) Never got the Twilight guys, Channing Tatum ect. Johnny Lee Miller was pretty hot in the Jane Austen Films he did, but his Sherlock doesn’t excite me. Benedict Cumberbatch electrifies Sherlock. Martin Freeman makes his characters loveable (Ian Holm made Bilbo Baggins likeable and Jude Law made Dr. Watson cool and likeable, but Martin Freeman made his characters the one the audience identified with). Heck I personally swoon over funny men Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell from time to time, Stephen is especially adorkable.
    I think Elementary would be a lot better if they made the friendship between Joan and Sherlock stronger. It’s possible for men and women to have strong friendships and have it be completely platonic, even if the best examples exist in sci-fi fantasy (Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and Luna Lovegood; Captain Janeway and Chakotay; ect). As you stated t in this article, it is the way that Sherlock and John Complete each other that makes the BBC show so amazing. Do Joan and Sherlock have to somehow complete each other for me to enjoy Elementary? No. I get that it can take time for a friendship to develop, but there should be some kind of bond forming between them by now. We’re constantly told things, but I just don’t get why Joan decided to stick around and change her career. It’s not shown very well and there’s a lack of chemistry. My best friend is a guy, and both our grandmothers have sworn we’re engaged, but that’s the way people work, they want romance. When they love two fictional characters and the friendship of those characters, there will always be shippers, whether it’s slash or opposite sex. Good writing inspires imagination in fandoms.

    Posted by Holl | April 21, 2013, 3:53 pm
    • I was never able to get into that infamous Sherlock/John friendship that everyone claims is one of the best part of BBC Sherlock. It is basically two men who have nothing in common constantly bickering at each other. Sherlock fakes his own death and comes back two years later and everyone-including him-can’t understand why is John shocked and hurt by that. They act like he is overreacting. Both shows have their good and bad sides but Sherlock and Joan’s friendship in Elementary is much better than the one in BBC Sherlock.

      Posted by Mislav | September 13, 2014, 6:50 pm
  7. Well I liked the criticism of these shows. Isn’t it obvious? I don’t want to start a war but CBS is pushing the envelope.They are both wonderful actors and good friends. They have shared a project and they are both attractive British men. The fact is I am watching the show (Elementary), I don’t even miss an episode. I am so confused. When I am watching Elementary, I kinda feel like I’m betraying BBC’s Sherlock.

    Posted by beddyburc | December 8, 2012, 11:32 am
  8. I’d never heard of Elementary. Either way, nowadays Sherlock is a long way from home.

    Posted by butimbeautiful | October 24, 2012, 7:28 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Have American’s cracked the case of translating British Drama? | Chelsea Tagg - September 30, 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: