Thoughts on ‘Elementary’

I’ve been a peripheral fan of ‘Sherlock Holmes‘ for many years, starting with having read some of Doyle’s short stories in school.  The two Guy Ritchie films were great at breathing life into the classic character and with that new life there are others who are inspired to bring their take on the character to the table.  CBS is debuting a new up-to-date version of the character this fall with Jonny Lee Miller in the title role and Lucy Liu as Watson(Joan not John).  The above preview is from CBS’ website.  I’ve see bit commercials on the air as well and the above trailer doesn’t really make the show any more or less must see for me.  I’m intrigued by the premise of a modern day Sherlock in New York City, not necessarily a new concept given 1987’s ‘‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes‘(also with a female Watson) and the current BBC series ‘Sherlock.’

But it is because of the later modern day show that CBS’ take seems somewhat lackluster.  If you have not seen the BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ with Benedict Cumberbatch, go watch it, right now. . .no really.  The first season is available through Netflix and for sale at Amazon(affiliate link) streaming.  The second season is for sale via Amazon(affiliate link), I’m impatiently waiting for it to show up on Netflix.  Both have been shown as part of Masterpiece Theater.  From the first time I saw the trailer for this show I knew it was going to be something good, if not great.  Watching the first season has brought me a new appreciation for the character of Sherlock Holmes and all of his eccentricities.  As with the Guy Ritchie films Watson is not so much of a bumbler in this series, though to be fair everyone is a bit of a bumbler compared to the detective.  The BBC update makes clever use of the modern world in which we live and how Sherlock, and for that matter Watson and Moriarty, would behave in a society that is so driven by technology.  The added touch of where they put Mycroft, Sherlock’s brother, in the scheme of things is ingenious in its own right.

Because of that I have a fear that ‘Elementary‘ will fail in the minds of those who have seen ‘Sherlock.’  I like Jonny Lee Miller as an actor and while I’m not as enamored with Lucy Liu I think this show has potential, but much like ‘The Office’ it is going up against what many consider to be a superior British version.  To be clear ‘Elementary’ is not a US version of ‘Sherlock’ and has no official ties other than being based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.  Only time will tell and I will be sure to put up first impressions after the show has debuted.  It is one of the new shows that I am looking forward to seeing in the fall.

What about you?  Any thoughts on this take on Sherlock Holmes?  Have you seen the BBC’s modern take?

Trivial Bit:  In doing research for this article I found out that Jonny Lee Miller starred opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in a stage version of Frankenstein in 2011.

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