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Sherlock vs. Elementary

March 28, 2013

ImageAs expected, Elementary has been renewed for a second season.  And I am happy about this.  Even though I’m a fan of Sherlock.  Which brings me to a point of contention between the two series.

Now, I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan.  I have read every single one of Arthur Conan Doyle‘s stories.  I even used to have a cassette tape of two episodes of a radio version of two of Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories.  Add to that my obsession with Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes book series (which is kind of amazing).

So, I know my Sherlock.

That said, both the BBC hit Sherlock and the CBS show Elementary are both worth watching. And there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t enjoy both.

There are of course similarities.  Both are set in modern times.  Both have a Watson.  Both work with local law enforcement.

But the two shows couldn’t be more different.

The BBC’s Sherlock is Doyle’s creation.  He lives with John Watson (Martin Freeman).  He works with Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) at Scotland Yard.  He is exactly what you’d expect Sherlock Holmes to be.  And Benedict Cumberbatch plays him to perfection.

Johnny Lee Miller‘s Sherlock in Elementary is so completely different that it almost doesn’t even warrant a comparison.  Watson is a woman (Lucy Liu in a delightful performance), there is no Lestrade, and the series takes place in NYC.  And at nearly the end of the first season of the show, I really don’t think of Miller’s Holmes as THE Sherlock Holmes. He happens to be British and be named Sherlock Holmes.  He also happens to be incredibly observant and intelligent.

And that’s where the comparison ends.  Elementary is first a foremost a police procedural in the great American tradition of police procedurals.  It just so happens that in this one, the lead character’s name is Sherlock Holmes.  Outside of that, the writing is good, the characters are witty, the cases are unusual, and there’s some back history in both lead character’s lives that will be interesting to discover.

Both Sherlock and Elementary will be airing this fall.  Thank goodness the internet will allow us to watch both.

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2 Comments
  1. As a fellow Sherlock Holmes fan, I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in enjoying both shows. They are both good in their own right and hardly comparable. That said, Sherlock is one of my new favorite shows because of how ingeniously the writers tie classic Sherlock stories into their modern day interpretation.

    • I agree completely! I wish that Elementary was doing that a little bit more, since there are SO MANY stories they could use. But I guess we’ll see what happens in Season 2!

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