Elementary Pilot - My verdict

In an earlier post (which you can see here) I talked about the CBS show Elementary and how I felt it could not lay claim to being a Sherlock Holmes adaptation when it had lost so much from the original. I concluded by asking whether all it was was a US based police procedural that happened to feature a consulting detective called Sherlock Holmes.

The response to my post was largely positive and this was mostly from people who'd seen the pilot where I had not. My publisher, at my request, put a link to my post on Facebook (which I'm not on) and reported back that while 75% agreed with my assessment 25% did not and had said, in not quite so many words, that I should keep my trap shut until I'd seen it. I was also told that some US based people on Facebook had interpreted my post as some kind of attack on the US itself. Now I've not seen these posts (and don't wish to) so cannot comment on how true that is but if it is true then it's absurd. A critical opinion of a programme is not an attack on the country that made it. If it was the US would need to look out as a lot of the negative opinions I've seen of the show have come from Americans.

Returning to the subject, I can now report that I've seen the pilot and in the words of JLM's Holmes I hate it when I'm right...(I may be paraphrasing slightly).

Now before the show's fans come hunting for me with pitchforks and flaming torches let me elaborate......

I thought it was a well paced episode and the script was good. The plot was, in my opinion, well thought out and the acting was good. In some areas I see parallels with Sherlock which, I suppose, was inevitable. But is it Holmes?

The answer to this is yes but only in the sense that medical series House is Holmes. There are hints - yes but, as I suspected and said, too much of the original, in my opinion, has been taken away (or changed) for it to stake any substantial claim on the source material.

If the BBC created a show set in Glasgow, with a millionaire who dressed up in a costume at night to save people from criminals and then called it Batman people would laugh even though said imaginary show would share elements in common with the tales of the caped crusader. This is, to a certain extent, what I feel we have here. A show with elements in common but more areas of difference.

Again, I state that I thought it was entertaining and would probably watch more of it. But its claim to being a Holmes adaptation is pushing it. A Holmes-style show set in the US is a better assessment. Plenty of you will disagree I'm sure and you are of course welcome to. However, one area where we can all agree (I suspect) is that Sherlock fans have nothing to fear from this show. Although it will run in parallel it will not eclipse Moffat/Gatiss' more canonical adaptation.


  1. I think I will likely agree with you on this assessment, and all I've seen are various clips that have shown me it is too far removed from the original to claim to be an "adaptation" (though now I have noted on advertising that it claims to be "inspired by" and not "based on" Holmes). Perhaps that is the more appropriate term particularly since you've mentioned it's as much Holmesian as House MD (which I loved prior to the last few seasons and must give credit to that show and Hugh Laurie for firing up my interest in everything Sherlockian).

    I could list off a number of things that weren't quite right for me, but I will save that for my own review. Though I have to wonder, did Holmes ever say even something close to the effect of ...I hate it when I'm right? The Holmes I appreciate is just the opposite; he enjoys being right and relishes that moment. I've seen Rathbone, Brett, Cumberbatch and, yep, even RDJ become quite chuffed with themselves and not make one note of regret, even in jest. No, I surely don't think it will eclipse BBC's adaptation. I only wonder if newcomers to the canon will be able to adapt to the original when there are such basic, huge differences between two characters with similar names or will it simply be too different?

  2. I couldn't agree more.
    The plot and acting are good and the show is entertaining… I can’t say I disliked the pilot, not at all.

    The problem is that “Elementary” seems to be closer to shows like “The Mentalist” and “House MD” than to ACD’s Sherlock Holmes. I finished watching the pilot with the feeling that nothing new has been achieved and nothing old has been modernized. It’s just more of the same; I think this series adds nothing to the Sherlock Holmes’ legacy. But I quite liked it.