Elementary is part of the crop of new Fall TV shows due to launch on US TV.
Following in the footsteps of the contemporary British re-imagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular detective, and the Sherlock movies starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, comes the US’s idea of the sort of life Mr Holmes would lead if he was around in early 21st century America.
Slated to air from September 27, the series, which stars Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes (Eli Stone, Trainspotting) and Lucy Liu in a daring break from tradition as Watson (Charlie’s Angels, Southland) – I can hear all the traditionalists pointlessly gnashing their teeth now – features Holmes as a recovering addict and former consultant to Scotland Yard, and definitely not the know-it-all soul of old, who arrives in New York to go to rehab., and ends up staying with Joan Watson.
It this iteration of the tale, Watson is not really a comedic sidekick but rather a friend and companion, and isn’t so much a part of the mystery solving as she invested in Holmes staying Holmes and present in his newly sober existence.
Says Liu of her playing of the Watson role in an article on the show’s cast and crew’s appearance at TCA 2012, featured on Hollywood Reporter in July 2012:
“Who Watson is now is someone who’s on the sideline; she’s his sober companion, she’s engaged in him, not the mystery. From that point on you get to see how that blossoms out. The foot-in-the-bucket and that kind of Watson happens because in entertainment, there’s got to be a sidekick. In this case, that’s not the direction we’re going in. Ask me in six episodes and if I have a foot in a bucket then we’ll have a discussion.”
Speaking at the same appearance, the series showrunner, Rob Doherty, who is an avid fan of Conan Doyle’s creation said:
“I feel like I see Sherlock everywhere, on almost every procedural. Most shows have a Sherlock in them — they just happen to be named someone else.
“These are stories and characters that I don’t know if they were a century ahead of their time or if it’s just a paradigm that works. Having always been a fan of the character, I’ve seen him in present, past future, books, movies. Arthur Conan Doyle knew what he was doing.”
It will be interesting how this pans out and how closely it resembles Sherlock, which CBS, the channel on which Elementary will appear, wanted to remake for American audiences. CBS opted not to go down that route but the producers of the British show have made it clear they will be watching Elementary closely for ant similarities, beyond the obvious of course.
I wonder just how edgy it will be since that kind of look and feel is usually reserved for shows that originate on US cable channels. One can only hope they will be as brave and daring and creative as it sounds like they want to be.
Either way, we find out in just a few short weeks.