Other Kinds of Regeneration

For anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with me or any of my social networks, it will be fairly obvious why I’m interested in regeneration right now. Nonetheless, I’m not going to talk about that right now, except to say that I’m excited by everything that has been broadcast so far1 and am looking forward to what is coming next2.

But I am going to pose this awesomeness.

No, what I want to talk about is Elementary and Sherlock. Putting aside the relative successes of the shows and the actors involved, it occurred to me today while watching Joan Watson solve the final puzzle in a case she was working on with Sherlock that Elementary has much more potential for longevity and originality than Sherlock.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love Sherlock. It’s a stylish modern adaptation of the original Doyle stories, and Elementary certainly is not that. What Elementary is is much more original, taking only inspiration from the original texts. It also includes a method of deduction which can be taught and is currently being taught to Watson. This means that should Miller (Holmes) move on to other things, the show still has a detective protagonist who can continue to solve cases in the same environment with the same supporting cast and the same title. I’m not saying it’d be good, but it’s possible.

I’ve been watching a lot of House M.Drecently, too. “Rewatching” is probably more accurate, since I’ve seen all but the last season at the time of posting. Regardless of my shaky memory of later seasons, it occurred to me that there’s no possible way to continue House M.D. without, well, House. I wouldn’t watch Cuddy M.D. or Wilson M.D., despite the fact that I love both those characters. House is very much centred around house.

Sherlock has the same issue. It’s all about the interaction between Cumberbatch‘s Holmes and Freeman’s Watson. Despite an excellent supporting cast, the show could not exist without them, although it could probably limp along for a season or two without Watson.

On the other hand, Elementary is developing the world where Holmes is not a genius-savant with no equal. Watson is already proving that with time and training she could become his equal. The show could regenerate with Lucy Liu as the main character, and taking on her own apprentice. Just as a woman could be the next Doctor (and should be, in my opinion), Liu’s Watson could easily be the new Sherlock Holmes. There is precedent for this.

Honestly, I’d continue to watch the show even without Miller. I think there’s enough there to create some interesting drama. On the other hand, so much of Sherlock and House M.D are based around their main characters that they couldn’t possibly survive without Benedict Cumberbatch and Hugh Laurie respectively.

What’s the point of this blog? I suppose it’s that not only Time Lords regenerate, and that maybe that’s not all bad.

Sherlocks

1The Night of the Doctor (OMG, 8!), The Last Day (OMG Arcadia), and And Adventure in Space and Time (OMG Hartnell).

2 The Day of the Doctor and the unnamed Xmas special with Peter Capaldi as the 12th (non-War) Doctor.

Elementary, my dear CBS* (a review of the new new new Sherlock Holmes)

The way I see it, there are three main questions with regard to this new incarnation. Four if you really want to discuss Downy Jr.’s outings. I don’t. I prefer Iron Man. Anyway, my three questions are this (in order of importance to me personally):

  1. How does it compare to the BBC’s slash-tastic1 Sherlock?
  2. How does it compare to the source material?
  3. Is it any good?

Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start2.

BC has both the best coat and the best British accent. JLM has been in the colonies far too long.

So, how does it compare to Sherlock? Well, this does feel very well into question 2, too. It… doesn’t compare to Sherlock. Not at all really. Nor the source material. Beyond being about a surly private investigator with a British accent, there isn’t much to connect the two.

As an astute fellow Sherlockian pointed out on Tumblr, I’m not sure why they used Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character names in this new piece. There’s no London, no Lestrade, no… Sherlock. It’s just a dick with a funny name and a sidekick solving crimes. It’s not like this paradigm hasn’t been plumbed before without using the Great Detective’s name. So why tack it on to this unique piece of drama? I’m not gonna go into it here. Ask Mrs. Moff.

Regardless, beyond getting people to watch the thing, the name adds nothing to the series. It has charms of its own – the guilt-ridden ex-surgeon taking care of the manic, poorly-accented addict who solves crimes because he’s bored. The police are predictably contrary during the pilot whilst being non-characters in the background of Jonny Lee Miller’s mania and Lucy Liu’s straight-woman.

So – is it worth watching? I’d say ‘yes’. At least test it out for a few episodes after the pilot as I will. It’s a very American product – I’d put it closer to Dexter than the BBC’s Sherlock. It has all the nasty murder stuff without the witty interplay or textual-subtextual homoerotic but it has a certain… something that I’ll keep trying. The ending of the pilot was lovely.

Anyway, yeah. How is it possible that JLM – a British actor – has such an appalling British accent? He sounds like Daphne from Frasier!

I’ll leave you on that note and I’ll try to construct something a little more coherent for my next post.

 

* Yes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson”. That doesn’t make it any less real than how much excellent and often angry sex goes on in the TARDIS. Case in point behind this link (take a lesson in context before you click that).

1 If you don’t know what I mean, follow the link then do your own research.
2 Okay, that was too British even for me. I apologise. I also blame Genevieve Charnaux.