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After I watched the series premiere of the new Sherlock Holmes show, Elementary, I was torn.
As a huge fan of the BBC show, Sherlock, I was inclined to resist the CBS remake. I hate it when Americans ruin good British TV. Also, because I love the Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman version of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, I didn’t see the point of making another show, especially a show where Dr. Watson is a woman. I’m one of those people who likes characters in books to remain relatively unchanged when they’re translated into TV or film. That part of me is having some trouble adjusting.
However, the objective part of me that enjoys good television has to appreciate that the makers of Elementary worked hard to make the show original and that the show is pretty decent.
First, the writers made sure that the show very different from the BBC hit. The CBS version of Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) actually has a heart, which is a direct contrast from the British version. Sherlock cares about the victims, and he cares about Watson (Lucy Liu). He doesn’t have as much of the irritating sociopathic tendencies, and while he is full of himself, he’s not nearly as full of himself as the BBC version. The writers did a good job of making him enough like the Sherlock Holmes from the books to be recognized and enough of a new character to be interesting and refreshing. Also, this tattooed, drug addict version of Sherlock Holmes isn’t as weird-looking (Sorry, Benedict).
Second, there’s the whole Watson is an Asian woman rather than a white man thing. I’m not a fan, but I can see why some might find it another original element in the show. Lucy Liu plays the part well, and it does change the dynamics of the relationship, but for once, there is no hint at an impending romantic relationship between the two. Thank goodness for that! That storyline has been overdone.
Finally, the New York City setting is a modern twist. Sherlock is now on foreign soil, which means that he doesn’t live on 221B Baker’s Street anymore and that he now can annoy American cops. The show reminds me of a version of Monk, The Mentalist, or Psych, but the dark pasts of both characters and their odd relationship as recovering drug addict and “sober companion” set it apart.
So, I applaud Elementary for its fresh take on a British literary classic. At the same time, it’s not nearly as good as BBC’s Sherlock, and that’s probably something I won’t be able to get past.
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