The Elementary Problem
For those of you who don’t know, I live in the
have paid cable or satellite TV. Hence I have not seen any episodes of Elementary other than the pilot - which
I managed to see through (I think) a French website (and I don’t know whether
that was entirely legit’). UK
Now you may ask why I have not made an effort to see it – by visiting a friend who has cable (or perhaps more questionable means). The answer is that I’m simply not that concerned. Some fans (particularly the more recent ones) seem to have a desire to see everything Sherlock Holmes related as soon as possible (perhaps so they don’t feel left out in subsequent social media debates) but I know that the show will come along in its own good time (to subscription-free
channels) and I’ll see it then. UK
Before I am dismissed as one of the large group of Elementary ‘haters’ let me point out that, despite certain misgivings, I did largely enjoy the pilot and declared that I would willingly watch more if it (see here).
I completely understand the writers’ ire at people who have declared that they hate the show despite never having watched any of it and, before anyone points it out, yes I did take issue with elements of the show when I had seen nothing more than the trailer (and those issues remain). In my defence, I felt the points I made were ones that you could legitimately make based on the information that had been made public at the time; and I did subsequently watch the pilot and report back on the positives as well as the negatives as I saw them. I feel I have done right by the show thus far.
So, to clarify, I don’t hate the show but I do sometimes wonder, as did the noted Sherlockian David Stuart Davies, why?
Elementary is not offering anything particularly radical that would warrant prompt attention hence my lack of haste to see the remaining episodes. Much has been made of the fact that it has been relocated to
and Watson is a woman but these are neither original nor groundbreaking elements
(as long-standing Sherlockians know all too well). We’ve already had a female
Watson (admittedly called Winslow) and an America based Holmes in Sherlock Holmes Returns . America
To me it feels more like the makers of Elementary have used these elements purely and simply to try and put some clear blue water between their programme and the BBC’s Sherlock. In the words of one of the commentators on my above blog post:
“I finished watching the pilot with the feeling that nothing new has been achieved and nothing old has been modernized.”
Now, you may say that this comment could equally apply to the BBC’s Sherlock and, in my opinion, you’d be right. With the BBC offering even less has been changed and it is not breaking ground really either. The core elements of the show are more or less in-line with the original stories with the only changes being the chronological setting and the contemporary attitudes/language demonstrated by the characters. Sherlock’s creators were perfectly open about this and said from day one that they were only doing what had been done before with Basil Rathbone’s Universal series i.e. placing the programme in a contemporary setting.
This is, I think, one reason why Elementary suffers, perhaps unfairly. Where Sherlock made no promises (and had nothing to compete with) Elementary was seen, rightly or wrongly, as promising innovation and, in the eyes of many, whilst it entertains, it has not delivered the innovation that was suggested. For this it is being more harshly criticised than its British rival. Is that fair? Almost certainly not.
For more information on Arthur Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw please refer to my book, An Entirely New Country which is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Classic Specialities, and in all electronic formats including iTunes, Kobo, Nook and Kindle .
The Norwood Author is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Waterstones UK, Amazon UK, Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle, iBooks for the iPad/iPhone, Kobo Books, Nook.
Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.