So, it’s that time of year again – one of reflection and looking forward. Also TV, food and alcohol. Someone on Facebook said that there’s something cleansing and focusing about these blog posts. I’m not sure how much there is in that, but it’s worth a try. Mother Superior is singing ‘Climb Every Mountain’ on my Nanan’s TV as I type this post. I’ll upload when I get back to Mexico, where I have the Internet.
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.
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.D. recently, 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.
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.
I just watched the penultimate episode of Elementary before its triumphant renewal after the Super Bowl. With that in mind, I wanted to respond a little to my earlier comments on the subject. As in the post cited, I’ll be comparing the show to BBC’s Sherlock, as I feel the two are indelibly linked – particularly to those who consider themselves “hardcore fans” of one or the other.
I am a huge fan of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat and Sherlock. That said, Elementary has been renewed for another season, and I have been thoroughly enjoying it. I don’t think it’s impossible to like both programmes at the same time. In fact, I know it isn’t, because I do.
On the one hand, Sherlock has a more cinematic feel, as each episode is a self-enclosed TV movie. Although more pleasure can be garnered by watching them all in sequence, it stays so close to the source that’s it’s really no trouble to pick up anywhere.
That leads me to my second point; it’s closeness to the source material. Sherlock Holmes is an eccentric, brilliant detective who has a close and unlikely relationship with a retired army Doctor who has an eye for the ladies. Moriarty, Baker Street and everything else you would expect from any other Holmes adaptation is present and correct.
What Moffat and crew add to this adaptation is not only a real love for the original, but also a charm, style and attention to detail which really makes Sherlock stand out from anything else on TV, even the genetically-linked Doctor Who, which must strive to vary its style every week to keep things varied.
On the other hand, we have Elementary. Not quite so slick or stylish, it comes across to begin with as a relatively normal police procedural drama with the mandatory atypical lead. After a few episodes, though, I found that Johnny Lee Miller’s Holmes really began to grow on me. I even stopped noticing his oddly migratory accent.
His relationship with Lucy Liu’s Watson is as interesting as that of Cumberbatch and Freeman, I think, only with less sexual tension. While fans of Sherlock enjoy the potential subtexts of Holmes and Watson’s relationship in the BBC show, it is unthinkable that they should be anything but platonic in a male-female interaction. Although it is kind of illogical, I have to say that I agree, if for no other reason than that it would be nice to see an entirely platonic male-female relationship on TV. It rarely happens unfortunately.
The mysteries in Elementary are all gloriously unconnected to either Moriarty or each other, and in that way are a little closer to Doyle’s original, where the Napoleon of crime only appeared on two occasions. That said, the episode guide on Wikipedia does rather suggest that that might be about to change.
The drug addiction angle they’ve taken with Holmes is very interesting. It makes sense in terms of his addictive personality in the books, but on it’s own merits it give Watson a reason to stay with this awful man until she can see through that to the man he really is. It also give Watson something to do other than be confused with Sherlock is being brilliant. In a very acute way in many episodes, she carries the heart and finds the happy endings where Holmes’ nihilistic logic might let it too often lie on a dark note.
So, yes. For fans of cop shows, Sherlock or just good telly, I’d definitely recommend giving Elementary the time of day. And if you don’t like it, I think Sherlock will be back again in six months or so…
As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer from depression. I’m lucky enough not suffer to the same extent that I know others do, but I am also aware of the effect it has on my life. It affects my relationships, habits, diet and any number of other things.
I’ve just returned to Mexico after a pleasant if uneventful visit ‘home’. I’ve spent more than my fair allotment in my three days back being utterly inactive and catching up on my TV-viewing and video gaming.
Beyond external stimuli (including but not limited to workload, dating dilemmas and familial guilt) there’s one thing that’s murder when it comes to depression, and that’s inactivity. Your body doesn’t work off any energy, your mind has the time to roll and roll through your mind, and you get the opportunity to spend 18 hour days watching TV and getting very little sleep. I expect that to be my situation tonight. So, I’ve decided to come up with a few “New Week’s Resolutions”* with which to occupy my mind:
- Finish typing up my novel so it’s all electronic. I’m at a stage now where I’m between half and two-thirds finished on the project and I’ve completely lost faith in it. I realise that when it is finished it will take so much editing as to make it a new book completely. Nonetheless, I’m determined not to give up on it. This is stage one in getting back to work on it.
- Write 3 new things. That’ll either be fiction or blog posts, I think. Today I dug up some old dabbles I can play with if needs be. Whatever I write, they need to be of significant length and should hopefully get me back into the habit.
- Stop angsting about dating and stop acting on my angst. This one is a little more difficult and much less measurable, and therefore shouldn’t really be a resolution. Nevertheless, it’s mind blog and my head so nyer. 😛
- Lastly, I’m not going to sit in the house all day next Friday. What with the friends I have here, I’m sure this won’t be an issue as we all return to the country and get back to the work. That said, I want this to be my last weekend of inaction for a while. I’m giving myself tomorrow in response to the insomnia I’m anticipating for tonight.
So, yes. These are the thing’s I will and won’t do this week.
In other news, isn’t Jenna Louise Coleman cute and charismatic?! I can’t wait to watch the new half-season of Doctor who come my birthday.
2012 was a year of mixed fortunes for me. It started with the loss of a woman I thought I would marry and is ending with my being clumsily single and celebrating back home with family.
My life in Mexico has changed significantly since January, too. I started out as a school teacher in a small town; now I’m a teacher of adults in one of the biggest cities in the world. I’ve gone from having a life which relied and focussed very much on my relationship, to one where I’m independent, single and have a wide circle of friends.
I’m progressing in my career, too, as I grasp every oppoetunity made available to me, and have made the commitment, therefore, to be in Mexico until at least mid- 2014.
My Spanish is still rubbish, but has improved massively from where it was even in the middle of this year. I’d like to be able to tell you about a huge improvement come the end of 2013.
Romantically, from the engagement I mentioned at the beginning, I bumbled through a rebound relationship which ended because I fucked up. Since then, I’ve tripped, stumbled and generally failed at being a single, exotic man in Latin America. All this despite knowing some wonderful and beautiful people in Mexico City.
I suppose all that’s left is to Gove my resolutions and predictions for the year to come:
I’d like to lose some weight. I’m going back to the gym next year, not only due to a not entirely complimentary conversation with a beautiful woman, but also because I’ve been losing weight by accident lately, and it’s been making me impatient for a faster change.
I’d like to be in a long-term relationship. I’ve had the opportunity to have more casual liaisons with terribly attractive Mexican ladies and that’s very tempting, but it’s not really what I’m looking for. So… yeah. I realise it’s one of those American Pie things I can’t do much about, but there you go.
And I’m going to pass the DELTA: it’s the next step in my career and I’m not going to waste the opportunity.
Oh, and The Avengers and Doctor Who were good, too. Can’t wait to see Clara and Thanos in the new year.
Later, kiddies. Happy New Year!
I’m British and therefore not a follower of this holiday. That said, sometimes it’s good to think about the good things you have in your life. Doubly so if you’re a crazy person like me. So, here we go.
I’m thankful that I’m losing weight. I realise it’s shallow, but I used to weigh around 300 pounds. I’ll take every ounce I can get.
I’m thankful for the friendships and social life I’ve developed in Mexico. Much as I sometimes churlishly complain, I wouldn’t change them for anything.
I’m thankful for living in Mexico. I’m living a life far from where I was born; experiencing, eating and doing things I never could at home. It’s easy to become blasé about it, but that’s all I’ve ever wanted.
I’m thankful my DELTA application was accepted, so I can keep moving forward in my career, while enjoying Mexico for 12 more months.
I’m thankful for Doctor Who. Judge me or not, I don’t care. 😛
I’m thankful that I have tentative plans to go to ComicCon next year. My point on judgement continues. 😛
I’m thankful for my life – even when I don’t or can’t remember to be.
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):
- How does it compare to the BBC’s slash-tastic1 Sherlock?
- How does it compare to the source material?
- Is it any good?
Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start2.
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.