//I just really love what John Finnemore did with the character of Carolyn Knapp-Shappey.
Like, sod off, she’s not just any little old woman, MJN revolves around her and this is her story, even if you probably don’t realise it.
Yes, she’s old, but she’s never…
Alright, finally. My two cents on the “Elementary is ripping off Sherlock” argument and related topics.
(First of all: I like Elementary. I also like Sherlock but I think the fandom has actually made me like it less than I used to. This isn’t really important but just in case you were wondering.)
Now, is Elementary ripping off Sherlock? Well, no, of course not, no more than Sherlock is ripping off Basil Rathbone’s Holmes or the canon. But in addition to that point, I have another: Sherlock and Elementary in fact have entirely different premises.
“A modern-day Sherlock Holmes” is the premise generally put forth for either show, but that’s much too vague. The two shows are, as has been observed, very different, and this isn’t just because “Sherlock is better and Elementary’s a ripoff.” The shows exist in entirely different universes and are in this way unique.
Sherlock is a modern day Holmes, but it’s more than that. Sherlock is what happens when one takes the Sherlock Holmes stories and rewrites them for modern times. By this I mean that Sherlock has those same oddities and unrealistic touches that the original stories have, which is what makes it so appealing. It captures in greater detail the essence of a Sherlock Holmes adventure, providing plentiful canon references along the way. But Sherlock exists in a universe where there are consulting criminals and grotesque assassins and mysterious Chinese smuggling gangs and hallucinogenic fear gas…in other words, not our universe.
Elementary is different. It is a man with the talents, habits, and characteristics of Sherlock Holmes placed into our society, with our fairly normal crimes and our normal people (at least so far). In some ways it’s more believable, and in some ways that’s what makes it feel less like a Sherlock Holmes story. Elementary outlines the problems a man with Holmes’ talents and disposition would face in our society: drug addiction, strange friends, being regarded as an outcast. To an extent, Sherlock does this as well, but the world of Sherlock responds differently to its Holmes. Sherlock thrives in his universe of strange happenings, with only the slow days to dampen his spirits. Elementary’s Sherlock is the effect of a Sherlock forced to live in a world that doesn’t let him shine. He’s broken down by life and by boredom and the viewer has the sense that he’s just trying to get through it all. This also has an effect on the Holmes-Watson relationship. In Sherlock, Holmes is the one who brings Watson back from his depression, but in Elementary, both Sherlock and Joan need someone to lean on, even if Sherlock doesn’t admit it. As much as one can argue that Sherlock’s Sherlock needs friends, it’s also clear that if John hadn’t shown up, he would have been fine on his own. In Elementary, both Joan and Sherlock need another person to help motivate them. They’re both alone, and both displaced: Sherlock from his native London and Joan from the medical field. So in this way, despite the fact the Sherlock fandom is so prone to feels, I think Elementary is the more depressing show. Not in the shocking way that Sherlock is, but just in the attitude of Holmes. (Of course, by the end I expect an uplifting sort of “all he ever needed was a good friend” message, but at this point he’s still pretty bleak.)
Like I said before, I like Elementary. Maybe it doesn’t capture the “spirit” of the originals as well as Sherlock does, but I think that (maybe unintentionally) is what distinguishes it…but not necessarily in a bad way. Elementary and Sherlock are two different studies of the same beloved character. Sherlock gives us a complete upgrade: everything in the originals rebooted for the modern era. Elementary leaves behind the (occasionally ridiculous) Doyle-esque plot points and instead focuses on a Holmes thrown into an unfamiliar world. I think through the two shows we’ll continue to see the character of Holmes explored through modern perspectives, each shedding light on different aspects of the same character who, contrary to Doyle’s wishes, we can’t seem to bid farewell to.