BBC Sherlock series caught the attention of Hollywood. And Hollywood does what Hollywood does: They copied it. Thus we see on CBS this fall the premier of a TV show called, "Elementary."
Not only is the show on CBS, the show is set in New York. And Dr. John Watson is now a girl, the beautiful Lucy Liu who is neither British nor a veteran of Afghanistan. Moreover, Dr. Watson has no limp.
I'm pleased to note that Watson is no dummy in this portrayal. Nigel Bruce was no doubt a very nice man, and he played Watson as a faithful friend, but he also played a dim bulb and that is an unfortunate error that generations of Watson portrayals have struggled mightily to undo.
And did I mention that in Elementary that Sherlock is a recovering addict. Would Sherlock Holmes be stupid enough to fall into an addiction?
A recovering addict?
Sherlock Holmes, a recovering addict?
No. Stinking. Way.
It is well known that the canonical Sherlock Holmes partook of cocaine and did so habitually. Yet a central tenant of the Holmes character is his strength of will. For Sherlock Holmes to be an addict presumes that recreational cocaine use is impossible. One does not become an alcoholic with one drink, but with a pattern of out-of-control drinking. Is this the case for cocaine use?
My reading of the canon shows a Holmes who only retreats to his seven percent solution of cocaine when ennui and boredom result from a lack of interesting work. Give Holmes a heavy caseload and he'll leave his hypodermic in its case. This makes Holmes a recreational user, not an addict.
Gregory House and the mad detective skills of Robert Goren and the forensic science of William Murdock. And that's the problem with Elementary: we've already seen the Sherlock Holmes character on American (and Canadian) TV in all but name.
I've seen two episodes so far and I've had a good idea whodunnit in the first reel. What's taking Holmes so long? It could be the need to pay Hollywood stupid tax: to show Holmes that he must listen to annoying rehab sob stories to find the key insight that'll unlock the case (the one I saw straight off) and line up all the clues into a coherent whole. Oh, it's not like we've not seen that pattern repeated ad nauseum.
It's not that Holmes doesn't listen. He listens most intently to people who were at the scene of the crime. He listens to people who everyone else ignores to pick up clues others miss.
Holmes never lacks for some aha moment where he realizes the body in the library is just like when the schoolboy put a frog in the desk. Like Miss Marple, he'll see the connection and shares it with his noncomprehending Watson.
Sure, I'll watch Elementary, but I will probably gripe about it the whole time.