‘Sherlock' Fans: You Need To Start Watching ‘Elementary'

When everyone’s favorite consulting detective was revived in 2010 on the hit BBC show Sherlock, with whip-smart Martin Freeman and genius newcomer Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead, we all rejoiced. The show, which dazzled viewers with stunning pyrotechnics, resplendent deduction scenes and razor sharp dialogue, easily began amassing a passionate following.

By the end of season two in early 2012, fans were hooked but the actors were exhausted: Freeman had been juggling movie scripts outside of the show (Director Peter Jackson even delayed filming of his behemoth hit, The Hobbit, just so Freeman would be able to finish work on Sherlock), and Benedict, too, was stuck between a rock and a hard place, wanting to buff up his resume while still reassuring BBC fans of his dedication to the consulting detective.

In an interview with Yahoo, Cumberbatch insisted “I don’t think [leaving Sherlock is] a possibility because I love it too much…. It’s all about availability. It’s a thing of quality and not quantity, that show—thank God.”

“Quality, not quantity” seems to be the overall theme of the show. Since its debut in 2010, Sherlock has produced just nine episodes. While the show functions as a mini-series rather than a weekly serial, die-hard fans were left dismayed when a two-year hiatus broke the continuity between seasons two and three (which still proved to be an outstanding season, despite concerns of lackluster energy in the fan base). And it doesn’t seem to be getting better: sources estimate the earliest known premiere date of season four to be late 2015 or early 2016.

Both Cumberbatch and Miller have praised one another's performances; "I'm a groupie," Cumberbatch admitted to Britain's Metro.

Both Cumberbatch and Miller have praised one another’s Holmes adaptations

Enter CBS’ Elementary.

When it was announced in 2012 that Jonny Lee Miller would be taking up the reins of a U.S. version of the cerebral crime drama, Sherlock fans were outraged. Before the pilot even aired, Holmes fans were vowing to stay away from it at all costs. Anti-Elementary memes flooded the social mediasphere. Jokes about failed American adaptations were plenty.

All of this was a real shame, considering that it took no more than one showing to draw audience members into the underrated dynamic between the show’s British-born Holmes and disenchanted former surgeon, Joan Watson. It may have been a few episodes before the show really warmed up, but producers were able to capture and hold the attention of even the most astute Holmes stalwarts, no small feat in today’s inundated media world.

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu star as Holmes and Watson

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu star as Holmes and Watson

Now, as the CBS drama closes its second season there is one thing that is certain: Elementary is not the camp-show we once thought it would be.

As a long time Sherlock fan myself, I understand the resolute refusal to tune into what some have described as a rip-off. But to fellow Cumber-loyalists I say, “give it a fair shot.”

Sure, Elementary is no Sherlock. But then, Sherlock is definitely no Elementary. The tone and visual style of each show is incomparable. With Sherlock, we’re spoiled with cinematic mastery and flawless writing, heavy-handed dialogue and life-or-death culminations. But with Elementary, viewers are treated to something a bit more heartfelt.

Some have described Miller’s embodiment of Holmes as “superbly compelling.” The gifted thespian deftly avoids any replication of what others have done to the character in recent years.

“I wanted him to be wild and erratic physically,” said Miller in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I felt that matched his brain.” He continued, “In the books, I found him to be a much more understanding guy. I feel that he really likes people…. Not that he can necessarily communicate that very well. He likes the underdog. He generally wants to help.”

Miller as Holmes brings out the more compassionate side of the consulting detective

Miller as Holmes brings out the more compassionate side of the consulting detective

Fans worried about his relationship with a female Watson, played by the vibrant Lucy Liu, can rest easy. “You can play with certain things and bend and shape the characters,” continued Miller, “[but] I think there are some things that are sacred and need to remain solid—and [the relationship between Holmes and Watson] is absolutely sacred.” Show runner Rob Doherty has been insistent in the idea that the relationship between the two continues as platonic, no matter what the calls from the cheap-seats insist.

This season’s storylines have been even more exciting. With the arrival of Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft, played impeccably by Rhys Ifans, the development between the NYPD and the worldwide criminal network has been continuously electrifying. Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer briefly reprised her role as Holmes’ former flame and mastermind criminal, Moriarty, to the delight of many. The charming banter between Holmes and Watson has been better than ever and we were finally treated to a more open and honest Sherlock Holmes during an emotional reunion between the two partners.

In an interview with TV Guide, Doherty explains, “Between Sherlock and Joan… big changes are coming. It’s more about their friendship and partnership. Where are [they] as we start the next year?”

Elementary was recently picked up for a third season. Hooray!

Elementary was recently picked up for a third season. Hooray!

Though Elementary isn’t the sweeping production that is the BBC’s Sherlock, it competes with it on every level that matters. Together, Miller and Liu breathe life into their characters and personify them in a unique and memorable way. They bring humanity and pragmatism to a canon that is easy to overplay and give viewers a glimpse at the benevolent side of the world’s greatest detective.

Missed it this season? You have all summer to catch up! You can watch previous episodes of Elementary on CBS.com.


Featured images via CBS and BBC America

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002206395470 Sarah Fortes de Sousa

    I LOVE elementary <3 Have you ever saw the writer's twiter? It's pure gold! 😀

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=584007646 Sarah Reamon

      Which writer? I would be interested in following based on your recommendation

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=579751642 Rhonda Yearwood

    I to be honest have never been a fan of Sherlock Holmes because I find the character as written by Conan Doyle to be an obnoxious, often snide, jerk with social problems.
    Of course he is brilliant when everyone else is made to be dim.
    I did try the Cumberbatch and Freeman version but soon got very tired of Holmes yet again because I could not warm to him because I simply do not like him. I mean even Cumberbatch has said that Holmes; ” He’s an absolute bastard,” he said.

    “I always make it clear that people who become obsessed with him or the idea of him – he’d destroy you.”

    So when CBS said they were doing Elementary, the U.S of A based Holmes and Watson I watched at first with a cautious but open mind.
    Well I have to say that I love it, because what Lee Miller and Lui do is they actually give humanity, vulnerability and intelligence to the duo, something I found the other incarnations of the due lacking. I love that Dr. Watson is a woman and who’s intelligence is never dumb down, that Moriarty is also a woman and Holmes’ true but destructive love, I love that Mrs. Hudson is transgender. It is a good show that has done an excellent job of bringing the characters into the 21st century. Oh and Lucy Lui’s wardrobe as Dr. Joan Watson is just stellar! : )

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=17801143 Mels Lien

      I want all of her clothes. Lucy Liu is fantastic in general, no? :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007818820187 Renee Harleen Kohler

    I tried Elementary. Just didn’t do it for me so I’ll be sticking with BBC’s :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1210240923 Angela Marcelino

    YES. Although the show draws a lot from crime procedural-type shows, the development of Watson, Sherlock, and the other characters is miles ahead of the BBC one. While I do adore the BBC one, the BBC one is a very black and white look at Sherlock Holmes and it’s kind of stale at this point, especially with all the queerbaiting and the awful writing of its female characters. Elementary also steers away from racist stereotypes of Asian women unlike Sherlock in TBB which is just a plus. Although, I disagree with this article that Sherlock treats us to “flawless” writing because though the writing of the show is good, it is very flawed. On top of that, the way Elementary handled Moriarty and Irene Adler was just so much better than Sherlock, sorry to say. And I just am so much more interested in Lucy Liu’s Joan and Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock. The development of their relationship made more sense to me than John/Sherlock in the BBC one. Also, Joan’s wardrobe is just perfection.

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