A very modern Holmes – a look at ‘Elementary’

While ‘Sherlock’ is heading towards its third series in its home country of the UK, we are a few episodes into the USA’s attempt at bringing Sherlock Holmes into the modern day.  Their version is called ‘Elementary’ and is set in New York.  One twist with this new series is that Holmes’ companion Dr Watson is now a woman, Joan, a struck-off surgeon who teams up with the detective when she becomes his counsellor to get him clean of drugs.

By the end of series one, we had met Moriarty, but that great foe of Sherlock’s did not turn out to be who we thought they were.  It’s got complicated.  In series two we have now met Lestrade (first name ‘Gareth’) and Mycroft.  More twists and turns are likely.  In Jonny Lee Miller we have a complicated man who has frustrations and eccentricities, but also had a sexual past, very different to previous incarnations of Conan Doyle’s character, and unlike Benedict Cumberbatch’s asexual sociopath on the British version.

Lucy Liu is a much better Watson that would appear from her initial casting.  I was worried she would simply be a action heroine as she has been in films like ‘Charlie’s Angels’, but her doctor is an intelligent and grounded woman who grows to like and understand her charge, as well as becoming more formally involved in the complex cases he has to crack.

Over in ‘Sherlock’ we have Martin Freeman as a straightforward Dr John Watson, invalidated out from Afghanistan.  We have met Lestrade (first name here is ‘Greg’), and Mycroft, a government agent.  And we have met Moriarty – we think – and seen his death – we think.  It’s complicated.

One thing I have noticed though is the similarity of opening sequences, which seems just a little bit cheeky.  Note the New York skyline in Elementary, and the London skyline in Sherlock, with much the same font for the title.

elementary sherlock

Despite this, ‘Elementary’ seems to be similar to a routine police programmer based in New York, with an eccentric genius helping (and sometimes hindering) the authorities.  ‘Sherlock’ has more nods to the Canon, with even the episode titles being based on Doyle’s stories (‘A Study in Pink’, ‘The Hounds of Baskerville’).

There’s room for both.  Who is watching either or both of these?  What do you think of them?

NaBloPoMo November 2013

About Louise Penn

Writer, reviewer, fan. View all posts by Louise Penn

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