I have been a fan of Sherlock since I saw episode 1. I
really fell in love with Elementary somewhere during episode 2. I have always
had a thing for mystery shows and narratives even if I’ve had issues with
reading Doyle, sometimes the flavor of the age of writing impedes my desire to
really read even if I know I’m going to enjoy the story.
Sherlock has been a fun modernization of the original stories. Shaping them to fit into a contemporary mold and updating the little things so it wouldn’t feel too far anachronistic. There are passes for the sillier aspects of the idea compared to modern tech but the functionality and use of modern tech, such as cell phones, Google/internet search databases; entertainment and the modern war setting, plus the travails of modern life – like self checkout lines and credit cards – work to sink it into some type of a recognizable reality for the little things while the larger aspects of the stories stay the same. The basis for the stories is still there, the clues and facts and methodology are there but the world building has advanced 100 some odd years.
Elementary feels more like watching House in taking the character of Sherlock Holmes and his ridiculous name and putting it into a modern setting. I’m not entirely sure how much I like Watson as his rehab guide but shifting that knowledge from war to general modern medicine with a focus on surgery is nice. This show follows the tried and true, albeit a bit boring, 3 act formula where the first 2 suspects are wrong, character development happens and the plot jumps forward by leaps and bounds, the third suspect is proven along with any other accessories or details revealed to the audience and the final petit denouement of character building is revealed. I enjoy trying to actually solve the case and then guessing what the big thing for the story will be and how the case relates to the character development. I don’t know if that’s the writer in me or my obsessive watching of movies and following story. Major clues are looked over until later evidence reveals why it’s so important.
So I really do love both shows but I do like how human Sherlock is in Elementary. He threw a temper tantrum in the first episode, it showed how he’s a flawed human being, not just in his inability to connect with people on the usual levels in human interaction but it was simply a nice character moment - which destruction existed to be destruction – which I’d like to see that loss of control again. There’s also the small ways he shows how he cares about Watson and whatever she’s dealing with. Not just in helping whatever her small B-story is but in the editing when the camera holds on him for a moment after she does something or how petulant he is during episodes 8-11 when Watson’s trying to find a sober sponsor for him and his not helping at all. He doesn’t want her to leave, they were well with one another, she butts heads with him and he respects her for it. She’s not swoony over his deduction and he’s not super-human in it, he’s patient and in a way more autistic in his ability to focus. This concept seems to be going around in media to have a highly functioning autistic character and if this is over stepping bounds, I’m sorry. His mechanisms or interaction are odd without the macabre of the original character but with an abandon as if he doesn’t know general social cues. I’m sure I’m far from the first to diagnose a Sherlock Holms character/clone as a being autistic and I won’t be the last.
Sherlock from BBC’s Sherlock is more robotic and seems to fit more of the check boxes of a Doyle Sherlock Holmes. I really do mean to read the stories to get a better handle on Watson and not just follow interpretations and Wikipedia articles I read years ago. Sherlock still has his addictions and his metered violent tendencies and John is infatuated with his deducting reasoning and how Sherlock sees the world. He is more of a fan as he follows and works to solve the cases even with his periodic ventures into having a life outside of Sherlock he is drawn back it feels for reasons other than being a friend. Sherlock’s saving John and reactions to him are immediately warmer and at the same time it’s a different sort of calculating. There isn’t the butting of heads as often, John can hold his own with Sherlock but in a way doesn’t seem as capable on his own when compared to the CBS Watson.
As for a romantic relationship between Sherlock and Watson it doesn’t seem like it’ll ever happen in Elementary so it’ll be fun to see that dynamic of other characters interacting and shaking up the duo. Sherlock has expressed an interest in Watson but so far every female companionship he’s had on the show other than Watson has been purely physical. There is something said that he considers her attractive but it would just be for a physical release and the endorphins and not a real relationship. With the BBC Sherlock and Watson maybe it’s the latent yaoi fan girl or the tumblr obsession with guys fucking and seeing Sherlock/John passing on my dash – whether I want to see it or not – but there are moments in the BBC Sherlock that feed the fan response. In season 1 there were the winks to the audience about how scandalous 2 bachelors living together looked and the mentions that characters thought they were an item, even though both protested but the way the BBC Sherlock is written he has a much softer spot in his heart of John than the CBS Sherlock has for Watson.
Both Sherlocks are robotic but the Sherlock on Elementary feels more human and more like a real character than the BBC Sherlock because they did make him more human in some ways. That little bit of temper that shows up and the slight devilishness in going behind Watson’s back to know who Watson knows and the fact that he keeps an eye on them is interesting. He’s loyal and feels guilt and shame even if the character seems to avoid it until someone confronts him with his flaws. The character has changed in the 11 episodes, possibly more than the BBC Sherlock changed in his 6. I’d say the same about Elementary’s first 6 and BBC’s first 6, different interpretations of the source material and character. I really do like both shows quite a bit and they both strive to do something different. I look forward to seeing what each does in their respective worlds with their outlandish, over thought murders and how they develop the character interactions.
I do kind of wish that Elementary had a season long case, something to make audiences return every episode. The character development is subtle but I kind of feel like I could almost miss an episode or two and not lose anything. Conversely with the BBC Sherlock so much happens in every episode that also doesn’t always directly reflect on the next one but there seems to be ruminations and machinations for other links and possibly returning characters.