We can’t help but assume that the name of the new American television adaptation of the stories of Sherlock Holmes, “Elementary,” hails from the often ill-quoted line, “Elementary, my dear Watson;” which never actually appeared in any of the 60 Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In fact, the first known use of this phrase was in the 1915 novel, Psmith Journalist, by P. G. Wodehouse, and then it was attributed again to Holmes, in a movie in 1929.
If this level of Holmes knowledge speaks to the research and development being done on the new American series, we Holmes fans around the world are already cringing, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is turning in his grave. Not to mention, linguistically, to call anything Holmes related ‘elementary,’ is an insult to the most beloved fictional detective in all of history. His legendary scientific deductions were anything but, and when Doyle did write Holmes to use the word ‘elementary,’ it was only to discredit his own deductions as being simplistic and obvious.
To Sherlock, even his most brilliant of conclusions felt basic and self-evident, as he always seemed to expect so much more of himself and the power of his mind. To us, naming the show “Elementary,” of all the powerful words that could justly be attributed to the character of Sherlock Holmes, is a testament to the level of sophistication with which this notable character will be treated in this program, and doesn’t bode well for the show’s success. There are a vast number of well-received adaptations to Doyle’s various stories, many of which vary tremendously from the canon of written stories, themselves.
Yet, with the worldwide acclaim and international success of the incredible BBC Series “Sherlock,” which buries its innumerable classic Holmes homages deep within the confines of modern day London; it seems that an American show about Sherlock Holmes in New York with his faithful assistant, “Joan” Watson, is not only being done with incredibly bad timing, but also in rather poor taste.
If you agree with us that it is time to allow BBC’s “Sherlock” to shine, which has done nothing but promote a resurgence of readers’ passionate interest in Doyle’s actual stories, and that the upcoming American series should either stand down or be prepared to be as original, innovative, and true enough to the Holmes stories for serious fans to appreciate; please visit The "Elementary" Problem website.
OK, folks, here is the concept of ELEMENTARY TV series in the proverbial nutshell. In this version, it looks like Sherlock has some daddy issues, oh my. Read on, brethren.......
"ELEMENTARY stars Jonny Lee Miller as detective Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson in a modern-day drama about a crime-solving duo that cracks the NYPD’s most impossible cases. Following his fall from grace in London and a stint in rehab, eccentric Sherlock escapes to Manhattan where his wealthy father forces him to live with his worst nightmare – a sober companion, Dr. Watson. A successful surgeon until she lost a patient and her license three years ago, Watson views her current job as another opportunity to help people, as well as paying a penance. However, the restless Sherlock is nothing like her previous clients. He informs her that none of her expertise as an addiction specialist applies to him and he’s devised his own post-rehab regimen – resuming his work as a police consultant in New York City. Watson has no choice but to accompany her irascible new charge on his jobs. But Sherlock finds her medical background helpful, and Watson realizes she has a knack for playing investigator. Sherlock’s police contact, Capt. Tobias “Toby” Gregson (Aidan Quinn), knows from previous experience working with Scotland Yard that Sherlock is brilliant at closing cases, and welcomes him as part of the team. With the mischievous Sherlock Holmes now running free in New York solving crimes, it’s simple deduction that he’s going to need someone to keep him grounded, and it’s elementary that it’s a job for Watson. Rob Doherty, Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly and Michael Cuesta, who directed the pilot, are executive producers for CBS Television Studios."
Your quote has more information about Elementary than I've seen (such as the bit about Holmes' father). Where did it come from?
Comingsoon.net under the heading CBS ANNOUNCES SCHEDULE FOR 2012-2013. ELEMENTARY will air on Thursdays at 10, following one of my favorite programs, PERSON OF INTEREST. THE MENTALIST, which is basically the same series as ELEMENTARY, oddly enough,is moving to Sundays at 10. Given that PERSON is a hit, looks like CBS is making a considerable effort to make this SHERLOCK ripoff succeed. In my opinion,American TV has had little success in adapting English dramas. Their version of CRACKER and PRIME SUSPECT, both dismal failures, I offer as proof....
I wonder if this version will have Mycroft as his dad rather then brother....but that wouldn't be any fun, now would it ??.........
Thanks for the info. As to the merits of Elementary, I'll wait until the pilot airs. You well maybe right in your assessments, but as Holmes says, "It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment."
Interesting information! I maintain that I still enter into this series with nothing but trepidation... ;)
Concur, my dear Riggs........
I have no doubt that it will not be as good as the BBC series (which is brilliant, and unique), but that doesn’t mean it won't be worth watching. Here's what Moffat thinks.
Here's another take.
Remember, CBS first wanted to adapt Sherlock, but they were denied permission. So now they have an obligation to make it different. So, when they make it different (setting it in New York, a female Watson) it seems hypocritical to say now that it won't be good because it is different. However, Moffet's point about "damaging , the brand" is well taken. Some feel that the movie "Young Sherlock Holmes" damaged the brand for over a decade. Still, as long as the Canon is there to be read, Holmes endures. I am curious to see it, but I doubt it will be very successful. And I am willing to be pleasantly surprised.
While Gatiss plays Mycroft, Moffat is the real Moriarty! Loudly proclaiming in the press he'll sue if CBS comes to close to Sherlock, and then when CBS makes changes says that they've gone too far. Obviously the question asked of Cumberbatch at the PBS press conference about if he read Machiavelli was asked of the wrong person.
Seriously, while Moffat makes noises that Sherlock stays true to Conan Doyle, that is not the case. For one thing Holmes, would never be such a jerk to potential clients ("Boring!"). I love the: "I don't want it to sound like Mark and I don't want other people to try this. We welcome it, but don't damage the brand." quote. Yeah, brand.
"Brand". I realize that that is the way they talk in show biz. It is after all a business that deals in products and brands that are sold to consumers. But looking a Moffat's statement, "I don't want it to sound like Mark and I don't want other people to try this. We welcome it, but don't damage the brand." I'm sure he didn't say it with hubris, but Gatiss and Moffat are not the gatekeepers for Doyle's creation anymore than Adrian Conan Doyle was in the '40's and '50's. If we can have pastiches where Holmes battles the supernatural, indeed can be a wizard in that realm, and pal around with Freud, Wilde, TR, Shaw, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll, Houdini, and divers others; if he can battle Nazi spies, aliens, the Old Ones; if he can be portrayed by Hagman, Moore, Paul Lynde, then I think we can have him in present day NYC with a rich father and Lucy Liu. Holmes has proven himself indestructible to what creative minds can throw at him. He can even survive Moffat and Gatiss.
If you've read my post on the Baker Street Blog, then you know my opinion on where Elementary will stand in relation to Sherlock; Gatiss, Moffat, Cumberbatch, and Freeman are the Beatles and no matter how good Elementary turns out to be, it can never be seen as anything better than the Monkees. It may only be as good as the Fugs. We'll have to wait and see. CBS has the right to try to be more than a blip on the radar screen of Sherlockiana. After all the copyright has expired and Adrian is dead. The realities of American network TV may do more to kill Elementary than a rejiggered "brand". The realities of British TV may give us no more than 15 episodes of Sherlock over an eight year span. That is both the strength and weakness Moffat and Gatiss have been dealt. They can take a year and a half, craft three shows to diamond-like brilliance and hardness, have a month to rehearse and film each, and reap in the accolades and BAFTAs. In the meantime, anyone can come along with a knock-off Holmes, like those fake Coach bags and Rolex watches on NYC street corners that Jonny Lee Miller will be walking by. The worry is, perhaps there'll be not a cheap knock-off but a quality product, something shiny that will grab the spotlight, if only for a little while. Elementary may not be that thing. We'll have to see.
I agree completely, with one proviso. Going back to my example of "Brand" damage, what Moffat (I think) is saying is that if a poorly done Sherlock Holmes is a critical and financial failure, it might make others less likely to invest in future Sherlock Holmes ventures, and make John Q Public less likely to try a new Holmes related product, based on their negative experience. After Young Sherlock Holmes flopped in this way, Disney tried to downplay The Great Mouse Detective's connection to Sherlock Holmes. Although I personally love that (animated) movie for a lot of reasons, it was not a financial success. This is what the Hollywood elite mean by "Brand Damage". I think it took Jeremy Brett and friends to repair it, though even THAT took time.