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Holmes vs. Elementary

Often movies or TV series come in pairs. These days I watched two series that are obviously related, Sherlock and Elementary and there is even a movie series by guy Ritchie (which I actually like!) but let's talk TV.

I am not going to be original in saying Sherlock is the superior show. But why is it?

Well, I think it mostly comes to one being done by people who have read the books, and the other by people who heard about them.

For example, that evil word "Elementary". It's not in the books. It's in the movies, though. So, if you focus on second-hand sources, it makes sense to use it, but if you care about the original materials it makes sense to carefully avoid it.

There's also the problem of Elementary's Holmes looking like a hobo. Holmes was fastidiously neat. He was a slob about his lodgings, but he always kept himself clean and well dressed.

Or let's consider addiction. Yes, in the books Holmes shoots cocaine and does morphine, Thing is, those things were not even illegal at the time. Cocaine was a cough medicine. So, transposing that into nicotine addiction makes sense, specially since Holmes was also a very heavy smoker even for victorian standards. Turning it into a drug habit that forces Holmes into rehab (rehab!) doesn't. Also, "this is a three patch problem"? Have to chucle at that, dude.

The Watsons also are quite different. I quite like Lucy Liu's deadpan delivery of everything, but Watson is not supposed to be a damaged person that nurtures. He's a thrill seeker, a badass character that is only mild-mannered when compared to his company. Again, Sherlock walks closer to the books there, while Elementary tries to shoehorn some weird personal-growth sideplot.

Yes, Watson is the one that brings out the human side of Holmes, but he does that not by being all soft and cuddly, he does it by being a hard headed bastard who stands up to him. He's a true friend, and friends don't take shit from friends, at least not without giving shit back. In Sherlock he does that, and clearly Holmes respects him. In Elementary, Watson is tolerated, and treated like a pet.

Winks. Both series try to make reference, more or less oblique, to the source material. Again, it feels like Elementary is working from second hand references. If I could find you the "Holmes intentionally avoids learning things of no immediate relevance" bits in both, the Elementary one was a groaning exposition, including physical demonstration of how water displaces oil. In Sherlock? Well, it's an argument. Incredulity on one side, quirkiness on the other, funny dialog.

Because that's what Elementary isn't. it's just not fun. And a Holmes that's not fun, is a broken Holmes.


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