I seem to have spent quite a lot of time apologising to TV lately, what with Broadchurch and all. And now I’d like to offer a heartfelt apology to Elementary.
I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. I’ve read the books many times, loved the Jeremy Brett series, enjoyed the Benedict Cumberbatch interpretation (I’d often wondered how a modern adaptation would work out). But I was not ready for an American version. I thought a female Watson was stunt-casting and that Holmes would never work in New York.
The Americans do not have a terrific track record when it comes to adapting British media. The first annoyance is that they continue to feel compelled to. They seem to be under this illusion that Americans could not possibly understand anything that took place in another, English speaking country. They change London to Los Angeles, Lift to elevator and mate to dude and that simple transliteration apparently makes it understandable.
But they at least cast a Brit as Holmes, and what a Brit. Jonny Lee Miller is fantastic, A much more well rounded Holmes than Cumberbatch’s high functioning sociopath. (In Cumberbatch’s defense Miller has had a lot more time to work on his character, two and a half seasons compared to 9 or 10 episodes.) He’s veering ever so slightly away from the book Holmes but there’s real character growth, and his relationship with Watson is much more nuanced. And there’s no misplaced sexual tension (I’m not seeing it anyway).
The writers clearly know their canon, as little shout-outs to the books are thrown in almost every week. It’s become almost a game for me to try and tease them out before they’re fully revealed. And as Holmes gets farther from his addiction (I won’t say healed), the brownstone gets a little bit nicer. I like that they’re using it as a metaphor for Holmes’ mental health, the physical manifestation of his memory palace.
So, Elementary, I doubted you and I shouldn’t have. You are wonderful, and one of the top two or three shows on TV right now.