Elementary. It should be wrong for so many reasons.
Sherlock Holmes was always a resident of London, capital city of the United Kingdom and at the time Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle wrote his books, the centre of the British Empire.
Transporting him to the metropolis of New York City and worse still, turning Dr John Watson into a woman, Joan Watson, would be considered by many Holmes purists as nothing short of a betrayal. That is before you consider Doyle’s characters have time travelled from the late Victorian era to the 21st Century.
Yet oddly, Elementary works. It does not attempt to replicate or copy the story-lines of the original Conan-Doyle works. Whilst the characters may have familiar traits and Jon Lee Miller portrays a Sherlock Holmes, part sociopath, part genius, with just a hint of Mr Bean.
The scripts are undeniably 21st Century and Americanised. Interaction and embedding with the New York Police Department. Cell Phones rather than Mobile Phones. Brown Stone instead of Terraced Town House. Laudnum and Holmes’ famous 7% Solution of cocaine, are replaced by undefined dalliances with drugs. Holmes has been put through the trans-Atlantic wringer and come out American whilst retaining just a sufficient British ingredient to allow for his eccentricities.
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Once you are over the fact that Watson is now a woman, Lucy Liu brings in a very credible performance as the former sober companion & surgeon turned detective. The power of the script, coupled with the performances of the actors mean this show provides compelling viewing throughout each episode. So much so, if you severed the Holmes link and gave the characters different names, Elementary would not only stand-alone without the Conan-Doyle heritage, it would actually rate highly.
Seasons 1 – 5 are available to buy for streaming via Amazon and I am eagerly awaiting Season 6 appearing there as well.
It could have gone wrong on so many levels but somehow, Elementary’s writers and cast pull off what must surely be regarded as one of the best crime series to come out of the USA in the last twenty years.