Since its initial announcement earlier this year, CBS’ upcoming Sherlock Holmes-based detective series Elementary has been continuously compared to the similar hit BBC show, Sherlock. Both series feature a modern-day depiction of the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson – but essentially, that’s all the two really have in common.
In the midst of harsh rumors of bad blood between the two shows, as well as the potential of a lawsuit, the cast and producers of Elementary kept their comments on the comparison very amicable when asked about the subject at Comic-Con 2012. In a recent interview with Zap2it, Elementary executive producer Carl Beverly indicated that due to the show’s originality in character and writing style, he has no doubt Elementary will receive positive audience approval.
“I actually think it’s flattering. It was a little challenging at first. We knew that if we tried to do Sherlock Holmes 120 years later after a very successful BBC show, there would be a lot of skepticism. I think it’s a real testament to [creator Robert Doherty's] writing that there was no real fear… Provided, Rob has his own vision and can execute something new and fresh and interesting. I think the audiences really appreciate the effort and hopefully will gather around the show and love it as much as they love the BBC one.”
Elementary star Jonny Lee Miller (Sherlock Holmes) added to Beverly’s sentiment by saying:
“I was a big fan of [BBC’s Sherlock] before I ‘d even heard about this version. My best friend is in the movies. It all came down to if I felt ‘Is the story different enough?’ Yes. I do. It’s a completely different imagining and a different take for so many different reasons that I thought it was worth doing.”
Elementary creator Robert Doherty also commented on the perceived similarities between the two shows and made it clear that as a fan of the Sherlock Holmes genre, there’s plenty of the dazzling detective for everyone.
“If you aspire to the quality of the movies and television shows that have been created by people who love the characters, that’s the best place to be. Sherlock over the many, many, many, many, many years he’s been around, it’s been through many hands. It’s one of the reasons he’s so embedded in popular culture. Sherlock has big shoulders, and I think he can carry all of us.”
Still not convinced? Here are some quick story points from both BBC’s Sherlock and the CBS’ Elementary as to how the two differ:
BBC: Sherlock lives with Dr. Watson at 221B Baker Street London where the series takes place.
CBS: Holmes lives alone in Brooklyn, New York, after being released for a rehab center
Depiction of Sherlock Holmes
BBC: Both depict Holmes with his hallmark brilliance in deductions – but for the majority of the series, Sherlock works as a “Consulting Detective” who is frequently hired by Scotland Yard, but will also takes private cases if they inspire him. Although this Sherlock appears cleaner-cut and softer than the CBS version he is often very insensitive to those around him (especially other officers) and can come across downright rude. With a low tolerance for incompetence Sherlock openly ridicules even those close to him for their mistakes. While it is implied that this version of Holmes has a past with illegal-drugs, currently the only addiction he’s trying to overcome is to smoking as he finds the habit “impractical in present-day urban London”
CBS: This Holmes is a former consultant to Scotland Yard who travels to New York City to check into a rehabilitation center after becoming an addict due to his former life. CBS’s Holmes is less polished than the BBC’s with a scruffier appearance and also sports a heavily tattooed upper body. Despite the slightly rougher look, this Holmes seems “nicer” than his BBC counterpart although both exhibit the token unfiltered way of speaking.
Depiction of Dr. Watson
BBC: Dr. John Watson (a white male) is a former military doctor who meets Sherlock when he’s in need of a flat-mate. Watson walks with a psychosomatic limp after being shot in Afghanistan and acts as Sherlock’s “blogger,” documenting all their cases.
CBS: Dr. Joan Watson (an Asian female) is a former ER surgeon hired by Holmes’ father to be his “sober companion.” She will help Holmes transition from rehab to his daily life. It is also indicated she has a past with addiction that may have played a part in her no longer being a surgeon.
Holmes’ Police Liaison
BBC: Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade (see above) currently works for Scotland Yard and is the only officer to work directly with Sherlock. Lestrade has a reluctant “friendship” and a hidden respect for Sherlock, although he is often frustrated by Sherlock’s rudeness, cryptic deductions and his habit of withholding crime scene evidence.
CBS: Captain Tobias Gregson of the New York City Police Department did a stint with Scotland Yard a few years back where he met Holmes. Despite his drug-addict past, Gregson openly trusts Holmes and the two even appear to be more overtly friendly.
Mycroft Holmes and other classic Sherlock Holmes Characters
BBC: Mycroft Holmes is Sherlock’s older brother and works at a high level of the British government. Even though the two brothers have a snooty relationship based on one-upmanship, Mycroft does show a great deal of concern and affection for his baby brother. Like Mycroft, other classic Holmes characters appear in the series – like the villainous Moriarty, the mysterious Irene Adler, and Holmes’ beloved landlady Mrs. Hudson – not only appear in the BBC rendition, but play a huge part in the series’ plot.
CBS: While not out of the realm of possibility, so far it doesn’t seem like Mycroft or any other classic Holmes characters will play a pivotal role in Elementary. CBS appears to be approaching Holmes at a new stage of his life, and while these characters may exist for Holmes, they are most likely being left back in England for now. But as everyone knows, it’s only a matter of time before Moriarty rears his malevolent head.
Catch Elementary when it premieres Thursday, September 27th @ 10 pm on CBS.