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Thursday, 30 January 2014

From Pete's World: Elementary (through S1E12 "M.")

Sherlock: perhaps the original fandom. If my memory serves me correctly, it was the Sherlockians back around the time of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who used the concept of cannon outside of the biblical context.

Of course, there is the BBC's Sherlock--the downfall (sorry for using "fall"...) of which is that there is so little material. But there is also CBS's Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson. Although the it is the second season that is currently being broadcast, there is already a lot to go on. The first season was 24 episodes and some similar number for season two is expected, I believe.

The set-up of the series is pretty different. Sherlock recently relocated to New York City from London, after completing drug rehab (in the greater NY area, I assume). He is a consultant to the New York Police Department, having the contact with Captain Gregson (for the BBC Sherlock fans, he's the Lestrade equivalent) after working with him on something I don't quite recall post 9/11. Watson is his "sober companion," hired by his absentee father to assist Sherlock in staying clean after rehab. Irene Adler also plays a role--however, much different than in the BBC version. She is dead a year and a half before the start of the series, and her death was what pushed Sherlock to use.

Having the Watson character be female presents a very different dynamic compared to that of BBC's presentation. It adds a certain amount of opportunity for some intense shipping. For me, I am yet to even want to indulge in that. Watson  is introduced to Sherlock in a professional capacity, and she seems to, at least at this point, have every intention of it remaining that way. There have been, although, hints that she did become romantically involved with past clients, which definitely are placed to ignite the idea of Holmes and Watson being together in the viewer. While the idea of a female Watson may deter people from the series, I personally find it to be one of the things that makes this interpretation very different from others. Lui's performance in the role is sublime.

Miller's portrayal of the sleuth also creates as sharp a contrast as possible to that of Benedict Cumberbatch's. In part this is through the writing and physical appearance of the characters. In all ways, Miller's Sherlock is far more grungy. He constantly looks unkempt, coated in stubble and tattoos. Personality wise, as TARDIStyle Talk (formerly the podcast) participator Desmond points out, this Sherlock is much more human, and less of the "god" that Moffat presents his Sherlock to be. Miller's is not a man trying to be a god; he is a man simply grasping to being human.

Also unlike BBC's Sherlock, there has, so far, been no mention of Sherlock living at 221b Baker Street, and he is yet to been seen in a deer stalker. But, fear not: he still wears a scarf--a plaid one in red and black. For everyone who Cumberbatch's violin playing made melt, I will send one warning: Watson finds Sherlock's old violin and suggests he take it up again, after which Sherlock sets it aflame. In general, this is not a "retelling" of the Sherlock story-it borrows the characters and their relationships with each other, but, thus far, to my knowledge, there has been no obvious parallel to a Doyle story, such as what Moffat did with "The Hound of Baskerville."
This lack of similarity is completely intentional. When Sue Vertue, producer of BBC Sherlock found out that Elementary was going to be a thing, she made sure that CBS understood that they would take them to court if she thought that it was becoming akin to an American remake of her show. I understand that she screened the pilot episode before it even aired.

I will be revisiting the series as I watch more of it. In a nutshell, here's what I have to say: this version of Sherlock Holmes is much different than any one I've seen before. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys BBC's Sherlock, Fox's House (surprise in the episode "The Long Fuse"), and also Bones. If you're genre savvy, you'll figure a few things out before they're announced, but for the most part I say that the surprise factor is still there. I give it 4 out of 5 stars!

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