A creativity blog - including reviews, photographs and discussion on a variety of things; such as dragons and other things almost but not quite completely entirely unlike tea.

Monday, 18 May 2015

It's Elementary, really

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson! Yay! I suppose most everyone on the planet are in a way drawn to Arthur Conan Doyle's creation, the intelligent deductionist and his trusty companion. Over the years Holmes and Watson have been immortalised in all sort of media and actors portraying the couple range from Jeremy Brett and David Burke / Edward Hardwicke to Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law. 

One of the modern day developments in the Holmes / Watson story is the portrayal of the couple in the current time, i.e. the 21st century. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have donned the roles in the British tv-series Sherlock, while across the Atlantic the same characters are being played by Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. Of the two renditions it is somewhat shocking to admit (to Yours Truly at least) that I favour the American one.

The story of Holmes and Watson has been given a more thorough edition here than in the British version (in my opinion) - in Elementary, taking place in New York, USA, the action begins when a Mr. Holmes from London, England hires a sober companion (i.e. Joan Watson) to facilitate the recovery of his son (i.e. Sherlock Holmes) from a plunge to the world of heroin and depression. Holmes offers his services as a consulting detective to the New York's finest as a part of his recovering process and at first Watson only accompanies his to-be partner strictly on business basis as his sober companion. Their relationship evolves during the first season of Elementary and Watson leaves her former job to become a detective-in-training under Holmes' tutelage. Their first cases involve the cream of New York's murder scene and the season is brought to its conclusion with the capture of Moriarty, who had a great part in causing Holmes' erstwhile drug addiction.

I'm a huge fan of the crime series. I've enjoyed a good many episodes from series such as Matlock and Columbo and I've followed series such as C.S.I. (the original, in Las Vegas), Castle, Bones; to name a few - I'm also a fan of shows that take on the opposite perspective on crime, such as Burn Notice, Leverage, Hustle (British series) and so on. My bookcase is rather thin on detective novels, however, as over there I prefer the classics such as Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and the topic of this post, one Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Thus, it is no wonder that I'm drawn to the new renditions of Doyle's characters, as they combine the classics of intellectual crime solving to the tv-series-based episodic portrayal of "the crime of the week". What separates Elementary from other series of the genre is along the lines of why Dr. Gregory House or Doc Martin are so popular with the public - the main character is brilliant, but rude. His (for some reason they're all male... now, why's that?) intellect is nothing short of a miracle, but his manners leave so much to be desired - all of the main characters in the aforementioned shows are ready to take pretty much any kind of action in order to achieve their goals. While House and Holmes take it somewhat over the top (being American series accounts for most of this, I reckon), Doc Martin doesn't beat around the bush, either, in his social dealings as a countryside doctor in Cornwall.

Johnny Lee Miller's Holmes is crude, efficient to a fault and - especially in the first season - rather intolerable as a person. This is brought nicely into balance by Lucy Liu's character Joan Watson, who is empathetic, believes in the overall goodness of people without being naive, and has a sense of the social situations. Holmes for his part strives to avoid following society's norms, denounces them as artificial and thus, useless, opting out of it for the betterment of his chosen techniques of deduction. Holmes' and Watson's relationship evolves plenty already in the first season and by season two the pair is much closer to each other. Holmes gradually gains some of the good sides of Watson and vice versa. The change is very gradual and happens in lieu of the overall story arch, which makes the series very addictive to follow from start to finish. And the cases they work on are nothing short of intriguing. Some mirror Doyle's original stories with a modern twist added, while others come more directly from the American crime culture with its mobs, drugs and troubles in the marriage.

Watson being a woman is also no problem at all with me. The sexual tension is there, no matter the sex of the characters. So it the equality, the disparity and above all, the friendship that defines the crime solving duos of all ages - the partnership of Holmes and Watson.

All in all, a very good series that I heartily recommend.

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