Ever since its first announcement, the CBS series Elementary has drawn incessant, mostly unfavorable comparison to its mega-popular counterpart on the BBC, Sherlock. Nonetheless, Elementary did quite well for itself during its first season, earning decent ratings and an increasingly loyal fanbase.
So far, Elementary has distanced itself from Sherlock by borrowing very little from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories, instead using them to build an American-style mystery-procedural. This may soon change, as Elementary’s season 2 premiere will take Holmes and Watson across the pond to London – where they will meet Holmes’ older brother and Sherlock fixture, Mycroft Holmes.
The Wrap shares the news that character actor Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man) has agreed to join the cast of Elementary as Mycroft Holmes. Ifans will debut in the series premiere and will have a recurring role in the series.
In the original Doyle stories, Mycroft was depicted as a man with an intellect equal to (or even exceeding) that of his brother. Unfortunately, chronic laziness and apathy bar Mycroft from serious investigative work. Despite this, he works as a high-ranking functionary in the British government, solving otherwise unsolvable problems of state.
The more recent BBC television series features a far more active, neurotic Mycroft (played by series co-creator Mark Gatiss) in “freelance” employ of various intelligence agencies. His rivalry with Sherlock underpins some of the series’ major conflicts.
It will be interesting to see how Elementary approaches Mycroft as a character – and how Ifans chooses to play him. The perpetually scruffy actor has proved that he can cover a wide range – from amiably goofy to downright creepy. Given that Ifans has previously acted alongside with Elementary stars Jonnny Lee Miller (Byzantium) and Lucy Liu (The Man with the Iron Fists), we should at the very least see some decent onscreen chemistry.
One overarching question about the casting is whether the addition of Mycroft sends Elementary into territory already covered by Sherlock, something the American show has (largely) avoided to this point.
Will the comparisons rise again, this time to Elementary’s definite detriment? Or will the contrast only underscore how – even though they both feature Sherlock Holmes as the main character – the two series are actually very different?
Elementary will return to CBS this fall.
Source: The Wrap