Thoughts on Elementary

I was incredibly lucky as a child to have very supportive parents that wanted to push my learning through literature and education. My Father taught me the intricacies of espionage and shared with me his Le Carre collection and my mother was always there with a bit of Mr Tolkien.

Little did I know at the time, but a character created in 1887 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have a huge impact on my cultural learning during adolescence. Sherlock Holmes became a staple read during all the periods of my life and various incarnations on television and the movie screen have given me hours of pleasure.

From The adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the late 1980s early 1990s to the latest Guy Ritchie-helmed versions starring the wonderful Robert Downey Jr, Jeremy Brett was always my Holmes. He had the tortured, intelligent addict down and every performance was a masterclass of acting.

Then came the latest fashion in screen media, the reboot. I think what Steven Moffat has done bringing a classic old-time character into the 21st century has been miraculous and so when I heard that CBS in the United States had an American Holmes being lined up I was really hopeful of another take on classic tales.

But then came the press release…

The project, written by Robert Doherty, is set in present-day and stars Jonny Lee Miller as eccentric Brit Sherlock Holmes, a former consultant to Scotland Yard whose addiction problems led him to a rehab centre in New York City. Just out of rehab, Holmes now lives in Brooklyn with “sober companion” Joan Watson (Liu), a former surgeon who lost her license after a patient died, while consulting for the NYPD.

How disappointing! I really wanted to see an American take on the complicated character, see how a New Yorker with intelligence would fair in a city more troubled than London. I was distraught at the casting of Jonny Lee Miller. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Mr Miller, I loved Hackers and really enjoyed his role in Trainspotting. But as a leading man, he has always been found wanting. Ely Stone for example should have been excellent but the performances never lived up to the pilot. Also playing Sherlock as a Brit is a ridiculous notion destined to fail due to the obvious comparisons he is going get to the excellent Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal. Then came today’s news!

Lucy Liu is to play Watson. I was looking forward to a female Watson, yet another twist to a famous character, but the casting of Ms Liu has left a feeling of a missed trick with me. It seems a rushed piece of casting and almost as if CBS has gone with a cheap option. So many other actresses both American or from the UK are so much more suited to the role. It’s like CBS have Ally McBeal/ Sherlock/ Charlie’s Angels mixed up. I will of course still watch the show as it’s my job to and I also won’t print an opinion without the chance of being proved wrong, but – and maybe this was the point – the expectations I had for the show have plummeted to the point where if the cast gets through an episode without falling over, it could be called a triumph.