|It's Sherlock Holmes! IN NEW YORK.|
I am Lexi, and I am a Holmesian. I adore Sherlock Holmes in his many, many forms. It is because of Sherlock Holmes that I became a mystery fanatic. I can positively say that Sailor Moon and Sherlock Holmes are the single two most important factors in shaping the person I am today. Without a doubt.
We good? We're good.
So earlier on in the year, it was announced that CBS was planning on adapting BBC's incredibly popular Moffat+Gatiss-developed series Sherlock.
In the shortest, barest terms possible, the BBC fandom exploded. It was not pretty.
I'll admit, I was wary of the American adaptation. I am a fan of England. England is A-OK with me. I like England. I want to go to England. I'd love to live in England (or Scotland, I'm not picky.) American adaptations of English TV shows haven't exactly gone well. The only exception I can think of is The Office, and even then I think people are sick of it by now (which is why they're ending it, most likely.) So yes, I was dismissive of the proposed adaptation.
Then CBS announced the casting: Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson.
Well, I'll go ahead and say that I laughed. Seriously, CBS? You thought you were doing something ~different~ and ~edgy~?
|Been there, done that. Try again.|
Of course, the international Holmes fandom mobilized almost instantly. A fandom for Elementary sprang up within hours of the announcement. International, mind you. Not just American fans.
Most of the BBC fandom responded very nastily. There was an epic, bloody, icky, germy fandom war. It's still going on. Don't go on Tumblr. Seriously.
But that's not what I'm going to talk about today. I'll admit that the entire thing is more complex and icky than I really feel like going into. But when it comes down to it, I'm a Holmesian. Not a Sherlockian. I had to give Elementary a fair shake. So I did.
I've seen all of the episodes up to last week's (10/18/2012 - I haven't gotten to this week's. It's DVR'd, I've been busy, yadda-yadda) and I feel like I can make an informed decision on my feelings about the show.
For starters, I'm going to just state my bias right now: my favorite adaptation right now is the Guy Ritchie one.
BBC's Sherlock is very good as well - the fandom sucks, but the show itself is really nice. It is very high quality production-wise, and while I don't agree with a lot of the writing, I do enjoy it. (I'm not much of a fan of Stephen Moffat, but that's not the issue at hand here.) It feels very different from Guy Ritchie's story. Truth be told, if Guy Ritchie's Holmes films hadn't done so well, do you think Sherlock would have taken off as hard as it did over here in the states? My gut says no. The Ritchie films (which I do consider to be a British endevor, seeing as most of the cast and crew are European and Guy Ritchie IS NOT AMERICAN. HE IS BRITISH!) planted the Sherlock Holmes seed in the mind of the viewing public. And I don't take kindly to nasty comparisons between the two completely different properties. But truth be told, I'm not really invested in Sherlock. I'll watch it if it happens to be on PBS, but I much prefer the Ritchie movies and the Granada series. I'm especially annoyed at how horribly they mangled Irene Adler's episode. *side-eyes Moffat*
So to be honest, I really wanted to like Elementary come September 27. I love most of CBS's programming. So I tuned in and have tried to tune in every Thursday at 10/9C. I can honestly say Elementary doesn't feel like either of the other two properties. You want to know what it feels like?
It feels like every
It really does. Not that it's a bad thing, but to make it stand out from a pack of crime dramas with gimmicks? You need more than just a gimmick. You need more than Sherlock Holmes as your gimmick. You need to reinvent the formula... or at least tweak it a bit.
Just for the record? Elementary is okay. It's not ground-breaking or glass-ceiling shattering or absolutely incredibly amazing. It's just... okay. Then again, it's not bad. It's not terrible. It's not horrifically awful in the way of M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender. It's just... okay. And I know it takes a while to get better than okay. We can't all be Hawaii 5-0. And god knows NCIS and Criminal Minds took a few episodes to catch their strides.
The writing reminds me heavily of the aforementioned shows, and really, I'm not surprised. The writers have worked on similar properties, and their styles are evident. The chemistry between the leads is there, and as of now there hasn't been any pushing of a romantic pairing between Holmes and Watson, which is really for the better... despite what the shippers may think. And for the record? I'm actually a fan of the Holmes/Watson ship when executed correctly. There is chemistry between the characters, and the subtext is faintly there if you want to see it. I think that the Holmes and Watson ship is very similar to the Marvel Superhusbands ship, in that sometimes the chemistry is always there and the characters just work with each other. But I do like Holmes and Watson best as friends, because I think everyone can relate to having a friend like the two of them do with each other.
Anyway, back to the show. Both actors in the lead roles immerse themselves in their characters, and Miller's spin on Holmes is refreshingly human when compared to Cumberbatch's. While I am a little irked that they didn't go the badass lady soldier route with Watson, at least she isn't the Fat Bumbling Watson of Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant.
|Here's hoping the last few decades of Fat Bumbling Watson will go away soon.|
To be honest, I'm kind of still waiting on Watson and Holmes to become BFF's. Seriously, if the writers for Elementary are going to be basing this show off of canon, the BFF-ness is a very necessary bit of that very canon that needs to be in there. The fact is, every Watson comes to every Holmes a little bit broken. Whether it be through Liu!Watson's Fallen Angel shtick (she gave up her career as a surgeon after one of her patients died) or every other Watson's Scarred War Veteran shtick, every Watson comes along with a desire to recover from a trauma and just live quietly. Of course, since they live with Holmes, that's not so much. But Holmes forces Watson to interact with the world again, and Watson finds that he/she loves it. Holmes and Watson become friends almost instantly in canon, and every Holmes manages to draw every Watson in in a way that would make you think there's something more than friendship going on.
I'm still waiting on that to happen here. Oh, as I said above, I don't want the will-they-won't-they vibe. I don't want UST. I don't want romance. That's too easy to do, especially with a female Watson. I don't want another Mulder and Scully. I want Watson and Holmes to be "brothers, not in blood, but in bond."
I'm not seeing it. Yet.
Watson, in this show, sees Holmes as an annoying overgrown child that she has to babysit. She manages to win him over in the pilot, gets him to hang out with her, they go out to dinner, and... next episode, she says to him "we don't have to be friends in order to live together" and my heart broke.
I'm still waiting on the friendship, because honestly? That's what makes the Holmes-and-Watson story work. Sure, we saw snippets of it when Watson rekindled Holmes' musical inclinations. Sure, we saw a hint of it with the squats. But there needs to be more.
|For the record, I totally saw the payoff coming once I saw this promo image.|
But still... <3
I understand that the writers are trying to differentiate Elementary from the other two adaptations on the market. But sacrificing that almost-instant chemistry between the two characters may just be the thing that makes me more ambivalent towards it, as opposed to enthusiastic. I realize we've only seen about four episodes, and it just got the full-season order, but honestly? I get more camaraderie from Psych, which is in fact based off of the Holmes-and-Watson formula. I come for the Sherlock Holmes story, and that doesn't come without his dear Watson.
I want to see more of the canon in Elementary. Otherwise? It's just another CBS police procedural with Sherlock Holmes as its main gimmick. And we already have quite enough of that.
(In fact, we already have that. It's called The Mentalist, and it's quite good.)
But the writers have stated several times that they will not allow the Holmes/Watson ship to become canon on this show (as long as they're the forerunners - CBS may just pitch that to grab at ratings, that's showbiz) and Liu and Miller have referred to the story as a "bromance where one of them is a woman", and I definitely hope that that happens soon. I theorize that it'll probably happen after the six weeks are up and Watson has decided not to leave, or something dramatic happens and they start to relate, or something. Holmes has been pretty closed off, and Watson, after a few brush-offs after her attempts to connect, seems discouraged. But there is hope, because this is CBS, that gave me my beloved vices of Hawaii 5-0 and NCIS. Those shows are not my favorite shows because of the crimes; those shows are my favorites because I love the characters and their relationships. So CBS, work your magic on Elementary, and if you could? Do something to reference Dupin?
(I came up with an idea that a female Dupin character could be Holmes' friendly rival / woman in London? IDEK, let's see what comes of it.)
Oh, and for the love of god, don't make the woman from London be Irene. Just... leave Irene be. She beat Holmes fair and square and went off to live her married life happily ever after. In New Jersey...
Somebody stop me!