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.
I have watched several episodes of Elementary and was curious about one regular feature of the show that seems quite consistent across the episodes I’ve watched: Lucy Liu’s character is regularly addressed and referred to as “Miss Watson.”
This was brought to my attention by my husband, who is a physician; he found it odd that she was not referred to as “Dr. Watson,” especially by characters in the show who know that she is a doctor, a surgeon, even if she no longer practices. He is not a Sherlockian, but also wondered why the writers didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to use “Dr. Watson” rather than “Miss Watson,” on the model of the Canon.
I reminded him that the British tradition was for surgeons to avoid the “Doctor” title, as a matter of reverse snobbery, and it might make sense for the Englishman Sherlock Holmes to refer to Watson as “Miss Watson” for that reason – but this does not explain why the American characters who are familiar with her background would also use the “Miss” title instead of “Doctor.”
Perhaps the writers though it would just be too obvious or simplistic to have their characters so closely duplicate the Canonical originals – there are plenty of differences, great and small, and this might simply be another one. I don’t know, but I was curious…
I thought she was an ex-surgeon, meaning no longer a doctor. Therefore, "Miss" instead of "Dr." would be correct. Maybe I'm wrong. I'm just going by memory. We'd have to get James or someone in here!
A doctor who stops practicing is still a doctor. My doctor husband won't appreciate my pointing it out, but physicians use their title and M.D. designation constantly in completely inappropriate places, even when retired. The Lucy Liu issue is even more puzzling since she often uses her medical expertise in the show.
The only place I have regularly seen/heard physicians being addressed as Mr. or Ms. in the U.S. is when they are members of congress, as we have seen/heard a great deal in the recent election period.
I believe Liu gave up her license as per episode 5 "Lesser Evils". I like Barbara's observation about British tradition and why Miller may call her "Miss". In this regard Gregson and Bell might just be following Miller's lead. Since Liu gave up her license, and apparently voluntarily, as colleague Dr. Dwyer was surprised that Liu wasn't practicing as she was only suspended, perhaps she doesn't want others to know, assume she has valid credentials and ask for few medical advice. I'm not sure about social etiquette, as when we address one as "Judge", "Senator", or "President" even if they are retired. As she gave up her license, perhaps calling her "Doctor" doesn't apply.
P.S. I was typing my response the same time you were, Barbara!
P.P.S. It may be that Liu re-accepting the title and resuming the practice of doctor is one of the story arcs of this Watson.
That's a suggestion I like!
BTW, it's a little off-topic, but my medico hubby pointed me to a recent article about the extraordinary number of errors surgeons make, many of them fatal, almost none of them resulting in the surgeon quitting. Lucy Liu's Watson must be an especially tormented soul, since the mistake she committed seems to be fairly ordinary in the surgical world and not worth resigning over, let alone giving up your license!
You can watch episodes free online at a http://www.cbs.com/shows/elementary. Episode 5, "Lesser Evils" has pretty much all the medical background on Liu. She seemed really moved about killing someone on the operating table. Plus, she seems pretty squeamish around murder victims--though not the airplane crash victims of episode 6, "Flight Risk". Your husband might have fun catching errors. "Tapeta lucida" (episode 9) is one that people online are commenting on. Put that medical knowledge of his to Sherlockian use!
Also from "Lesser Evils":
L: "I was thinking sushi tonight."
M: "Salmonella, vibrio parahaemolyticus, mercury poisoning, Anisakis simplex; all illnesses contractible from eating raw fish. Anisakis, of particular note, is a worm that can borrow into the wall of the intestine often requiring surgery to remove it, but, yeah, sushi's good."
I don't know about you, I think it's a great exchange and I can easily see Cumberbatch and Freeman reciting it. And the way Miller says it--while reading besides--is wonderful.
Talking about medical issues and Sherlock Holmes. I have been viewing the PBS series on the brain. It stated that "we are not thinking machines... but feeling machines that think. It is not possible to have a proper working reasoning system without a proper working emotional system" (i.e.: Amygdala; an almond-shaped mass of gray matter, one in each hemisphere of the brain, associated with feelings of fear and aggression and important for visual learning and memory). “Memories and the emotions that go with them guide our every decision.”
The brain sends chemical to the body in response to an emotion and then a message is sent to the frontal cortex to process the information. Feeling first then the thinking. Does that make Sherlock really
“Damaged,delusional….”?( Irene Aldler)
Miller's Holmes may be aware of such research. His trigger word for self-hypnosis is "Amygdala". You might also be interested in this article on Holmes and emotion: http://www.aeonmagazine.com/being-human/maria-konnikova-empathy-she...
I never would have known what an "Amygdala" was with out the PBS series on the brain. Do they explain that in the Miller's Holmes show? How clever. Very intriguing.
Thanks for the info.
BLOGGER TAKES STAB AT ELEMENTARY, MISSES ALL MAJOR ORGANS
PEORIA. Ill.—Well-known Sherlockian blogger and self-appointed defender of the faith Brad Keefauver once again aimed his sharp-tongued wit at CBS’s take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective Sherlock Holmes, “Elementary”, on Sunday.
His post “M” is for “Meh!” directed its critique at the January 10, 2013 broadcast episode “M.”, considered by fans of the show to be the best episode yet. One would have thought Keefauver would have brought his A-game to the post. He does have valid points to make about the show in general, however, Keefauver’s complaints are lackluster and surprisingly generic, considering the importance “M.” has in the evolving mythology of the series.
He starts out by noting, “The lukewarm reviews continue.” In Keefauver’s eyes, all praise for “Elementary” is lukewarm or half-hearted. Keefauver admits that “it's hard to spend time on the internet without bumping into ‘Elementary's’ presence these days”; yet he has managed to miss glowing reviews on sites such as Den of Geek and The AV Club, sites that could not be called biased towards “Elementary”.
Keefauver also continues his dismissal of those who have taken a serious and thoughtful examination of the show. “And the apologists are still out there, pretending that BBC's ‘Sherlock’ was a much lower quality show than it was, just to argue against any criticism of their beloved weak tea.” Just as no one “with the light of sentience left in their eyes”* could find anything of worth in “Elementary”, so too must any criticism of “Sherlock” be pretend. Keefauver’s professed allegiance to the BBC’s modern-day offering is well stated in the October 9, 2012 post “Flying the colors”. He has even written his own paean to “Sherlock”†.
In Sunday’s submission Keefauver offers nothing new in analysis of “Elementary’s” weaknesses. “’Elementary’ continues to be more CBS procedural than actual Sherlock Holmes-inspired drama,” he once again notes. Jonny Lee Miller’s unHolmesian grooming in the role once more takes a hit, this time with a dig at guest star Vinnie Jones: “His [Jones] scruffy style would make him a perfect Mycroft to Jonny Lee Miller's scruffy attempt at Sherlock -- they also both do ‘intelligent’ at about the same level.” One would like to be a fly on the wall at a social function when the two actually meet.
“Mr. Keefauver, Mr. Jones.”
“Ah, Mr. Keefauver, it’s a pleasure to meet you. We have so much to talk about. Let’s just step outside for a moment…”
Keefauver jumps to a conclusion about the woman to whom Miller was in love with, “We also find out that Irene Adler is not just dead, she's really, quite completely dead in ‘Elementary’ world…” As most Sherlockians know, it is premature to declare someone dead without a corpse, as events in “The Empty House” would prove. None is proved in “M.” He also feels having Irene dead is a dramatic mistake. In his November 15, 2012 post “Self-flagellation, a.k.a. watching Elementary” he states, “At the end of this episode, he says she died and he took her death badly. ‘Elementary’ just wasted one of the great characters of the Sherlock Holmes mythos. Off-screen, with a couple of comments.” One wonders if he has seen “Laura”, “Rebecca”, or “Twin Peaks”. He may believe that “Rob Doherty, the writer of this mess” is not up to the task to make such a premise work. It is a fair point. It is just one he has never made.
He ends his piece with “And let's not even get into Watson”. The assumption is he is referring to Lucy Liu. Back in August 23, 2012 ("Swap! Swap! Swap!"), he called her “amazing” and stated, “Lucy Liu should have been cast as Sherlock Holmes.” He even implored H.G. Wells to come by with his time machine: “We’ve got a television show to go back in time and tinker with.” Now he believes she is hiding, or being forced to hide, her light under a bushel or, “a halogen headlight being subdued enough to use as a household flashlight”**. He believes she does not have the clout, or “star-power” to continue the analogy, to give as good a performance as she is able, all to make the “punk”** character Miller plays shine brighter. One has to wonder if he meant to slander Liu with his insult to Miller.
All-in-all, Sunday’s post rehashes arguments he has made many times about “Elementary’s” lack of worthiness to claim the mantle of Sherlock Holmes. If he had been paying attention to the show, he would found an entry to fresh critical ground. As Sebastian Moran (Jones) spits blood onto the floor of one of Papa Holmes many New York properties, he says to Miller, “For a ponce, you move pretty quick.”
“Ponce” is a wonderful bit of British slang. It can mean “pimp”. Given Miller’s affinity for prostitutes, one can image the fun Keefauver could have had with this unCanonical aspect of “Elementary’s” Holmes. Even “Baker Street Irregular” Teddy makes mention of it in “M.”:
Teddy: “Are you a hooker? “
Teddy: “I know how Holmes rolls”.
“Ponce” can also mean a “poser, one who fakes class, culture, or intelligence”. Keefauver believes that the Canonical Holmes is “Classy, intelligent, successful. The guy was just cool…” while Miller gives a “burlesque of actual intelligence” *** A “ponce” can also be a metrosexual, the opposite of Miller’s “shabby, hobo-fashionista”*. How wonderful it would have been for Keefauver to point out that a thug like Moran agrees with his assessment of Miller.
A “ponce” can also be a derogatory term for “gay”, and this may be what Moran, ex-Royal Marine, meant. After all, he had just asked Miller if anyone ever told him he punched like a woman. Here, Keefauver might take objection. In his November 11, 2012 post “Mystrade? What the hell, go for it!” he gives his approval for shipping, the practice of fan fiction depicting popular characters having sex. In this case, “Mystrade” refers to Mark Gatiss and Rupert Graves as the avatars of Mycroft Holmes and Detective Inspector Lestrade engaging in coitus. “So why am I enthusiastically supporting Mystrade fiction while being a hater for the changes in CBS's Elementary? Well, at its heart, Lestrade and Mycroft being in love, strange as it may seem to the classicist, is a positive thing.”
How, then, did Keefauver, when handed a long pointed tool to take a stab at “Elementary” and miss every vital organ? One can only surmise.
Boy...this show has really brought out something in the old "amygdala" of some people. What are they/we afraid of...that "Elementary" will be successful. I think that is already the case...whether we like it or not. It does not make BBC Sherlock any worse or better... each show stands on it's own merit. I heard a good statement
" Let us live in the layers(of life)...not in the litter."