CBS announced last week that they have decided to create a modern, updated version of the tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless hero called Elementary, probably inspired by the roaring success of the BBC’s Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. The new American series will be set in New York and they’ve already cast the British actor, Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone, 2008-9) and Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, 2000) as Joan Watson, his female accomplice. This decision has set the Sherlock fanbase alight and everyone seems to be tearing their hair out…
Holmes will be an ex-British Police consultant, brought to NYC to a drug-rehabilitation centre. He has returned from rehab and is living with Joan Watson, a surgeon who has lost her medical licence.
On the one hand, it will be hard not to compare it to the BBC’s modern adaptation which was made extraordinarily well. It also sounds vaguely familiar for those who watch Castle and other such programmes. Some say that because Watson might become a love interest for Holmes, the producers might be tempted to swerve away from the original books too much, or even that it would become disrespectful to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s memory as he firmly disbelieved that there were any romantic feelings between the pair. He wrote about an incredible friendship; however, will the CBS writers be able to recreate the same dynamics after such a controversial change? Why didn’t they make Sherlock a woman, too? A female Holmes and Watson team could rival Charlie’s Angels any day…
However, on a positive note, they’ve certainly got the casting right. Jonny Lee Miller is a British actor who was great in two of my favourite TV mini-series and films, Emma, 2009 and Mansfield Park, 1999. Lucy Liu is a brilliant actress, already well established in the action/crime genre. Casting is critical and this certainly balances out any doubts which I have.
There’s just a hint of hypocrisy amongst the angry Holmes-loving fans; when the plans for the programme were first made public, almost everyone was upset that the Elementary would be too similar to the BBC’s, now they are upset that it will be too different? Yes, it could fail spectacularly or become an instant success, but it has not come out yet!
I’m excited to see how this classic adaptation with a modern twist pans out. After all, the BBC’s Sherlock may not continue forever as I’m sure the stars will want to move on to brighter screens eventually. Cumberbatch seems to be rising rapidly in popularity; after Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, I’m sure that Hollywood is calling. I’ve also heard rumours that Cumberbatch could be in Doctor Who, perhaps as The Master??