TO EACH ITS OWN MERITS – BBC Sherlock and CBS Elementary

BY RUBY CHINGU

I am here today to talk about what have been the most important series to my life in the past 2 years of my life, BBC Sherlock, and what seems to be the increasingly important series in my current  life, CBS Elementary. Both have been adapted from the very famous Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. TV producers had and have been using and modifying the same stories of Holmes again and again and again and suprisingly…. we the readers and audiences never really get tired of the detective tale, aren’t we? Palah Chingu wrote a review covering both series a few months ago. Since I have just finished watching the first season of Elementary, I have this crazy urge to let out my thoughts about the two series, too. Like, seriously, who can ever resist our modern interpretations of Sherlock Holmes?

BBC SHERLOCK

sherlockbbc2I love the series. I love it to death with an indescribable devotion. You see, BBC only produces around three to five episodes of Sherlock per season. Sometimes, the fans have to wait several very long months until the next season shows up. Each and every single month that passes, trust me, a Sherlock fan would be praying for the BBC crew to just fucking start shooting so that we can go crazy over seeing Sherlock and his best friend, Watson on screen together.

It is a brilliant highly intelligent series. The episodes are superbly written and directed. But then, I’d expect no less from BBC. Come to think of me, I do think Brits TVs are much more careful and meticulous in their productions. They don’t rely on too much gloss, they love to inject a bit sense of intellectuality here and there. It’s exactly like that for Sherlock. The first time I saw it, I thought – what a motherfucking great series! It’s so complicated, I don’t get what shits Sherlock is saying most of the time – but hell, I am sure addicted to it. The writing makes the episodes very unpredictable and the twists in the episodes – unlike other cliched detective series – really does blow your mind.

SHERLOCKBenedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes – need I say more? His acting turned me into a helpless Cumberbitch. Gifted with a face with unique features, Benedict gives Sherlock this out-of-this-world character. He’s a genius – no, make that a super genius, second only to his brother, Mycroft – who views human beings around him as those of a lower less-intelligent species. Despite how egoistically selfish and vain that sounds, he’s not that wrong. He is super selfish, he is a bastard, he is mean, he gives very mean comments to people who actually care about him. He has no reason and rationality unless they are vital for his investigative works. Apparently, he is not a psychopath but a high functioning sociopath. Bottom line is, he’s crazy. I love this new interpretation of Sherlock – if our intelligence agency is made of men like him, I will never have to worry about the safety of the world anymore. However, in all honestly, I would not like to know him in person if he exists in real life. I have no doubt he’d be a real pain in the ass.

Sherlock (2010)

Sherlock does not emote, period. Except for perhaps in some very sweet moments with his one and only John Watson, played by Martin Freeman. John, as Sherlock calls him, is possibly Sherlock’s link to the world of normalcy. Not that our John here is an exemplar of what is normal but next to Sherlock, he is pretty much the only sane person Sherlock lets into his mind. They met as roommates and overtime, John became Sherlock’s confidante, best friend (albeit strangely), and partner. Watson is essentially the ‘wife’ in Sherlock’s life. He’s reliable, he’s polite, he’s soft-spoken, he’s flexible, he looks normal from every angle. He wants (or thinks that he wants) the normal life. The hope, however, is constantly diminished by Sherlock’s presence. He cares for Sherlock when people gives up on doing so. He embraced Sherlock’s craziness (and selfishness) reluctantly since he realized nothing can change the person his best friend is. John mourned for months and years after Sherlock died before his eyes. The first time I saw Sherlock cried when he was telephoning Watson prior to the jump (though later we’d know that the death was faked. Of course it was fucking fake!). The first time I saw Sherlock apologized was also when he asked for John’s forgiveness for pretending to be dead, knowing how crushed John would be.

sherlockwedding_2781381bThe chemistry between Benedict and Martin (God, this sounds GAY!) is so amazing, it makes me want to cry. The way they look next to each other is different – Sherlock has that dark I-am-such-a-mysteriously-brilliant-man look whereas John looks just like….. someone who would be called John. Your next-door guy whom you’d expect to mow the lawn every now and then. The way they talk to each other is also cute – Sherlock would go yap and yap and yap and John, most of the time, has to listen and bear with his sentences cut short by his genius detective friend. They are always constantly together. John is often annoyed with Sherlock, though he gave up of ever expressing such feelings. Sherlock found a person he thought he’d never find in John – a friend. Most importantly, they love each other. (Again, very very GAY!) The writers seem to notice the explosive fandom the series has created over this couple that they actually intensified to a whole new level in Series Three. John was literally – I tell you – Sherlock’s damsel-in-distress. Hahaha, people, I give you – the GREATEST BROMANCE TO EVER EXIST ON PLANET EARTH.

CBS ELEMENTARY

key_elementaryFirst time I heard that CBS would be producing their own TV series based on Sherlock Holmes, I was quite pissed off. Why create another one when we already have the amazing BBC version? Why can’t they buy the copyrights and show the series in America? Are the writers in US out of ideas already? They seem to have been adapting sources out of their country for some time now. I mean – I could not think any other actor could play a modern Sherlock other than Benedict. And I was sure that Elementary would suck, big time. I was convinced the series was rubbish without even seeing it.

Hell, I was very very wrong. Foolishly wrong.

I am going to be very honest now. Story-wise, BBC Sherlock is much better and superior. I think BBC Sherlock also has better directions, pace, and a more elegant cinematography, which resulted in more impact to the audiences’ minds. Elementary has some smartly-written clever episodes. At times, it has average episodes. But BBC Sherlock’s writings are not just clever and smart – they are brilliant. But I think such comparison is fairly obvious. Sherlock has 3 to 5 episodes per season but CBS writers have to dig their heads to come out with clever stories for 24 episodes. I mean, the writers are not robots, people. BUT ELEMENTARY is one hell of an addictive series, made up of awesomeness and pure joy.

???Why? Because of Jonny Lee Miller, whom I wrongly accused of being unable to interpret the character as good as Benedict. In truth, he’s great. And there is no comparison at all because his acting makes Elementary a totally different show from Sherlock. Jonny’s Sherlock is a genius nonetheless. However, he is a bit more relatable. His emotional range is significantly expanded. He CAN emote – he fell in love once. He is a recovered drug addict whose father hired a sober companion, Joan Watson, to ensure that he does not relapse and return to his drug habits. In a way, he’s very flawed. He is also essentially a man-child. He does not really place much important in hygiene of himself and his apartment. He is obsessive over his cases and works for free as a consultant detective for NYPD. Why? Because he does not need to earn any money. He is a spoiled brat who lives off the money from the trust fund he inherited, which means he came from an insanely wealthy family. That explains why he’s immature 90% of the time. He’s often giddy, anxious and impatience.

Oh God, I love seeing him on screen. I completely fell in love with Sherlock Holmes! I find him so endearing and adorable! Now, Jonny’s Sherlock is someone I would not mind meeting in real life. Hehe.

lucy iuLucy Liu‘s interpretation of Joan Watson is also impressive. I was skeptical at first when I heard that CBS was going to turn Watson into a female character. The first thought that popped into my head was – are the writers going to make them sleep together? Cause sex and romance would pretty much destroy the professional and friendship-based chemistry Sherlock and Watson have in all the other versions. Good news, they don’t (or at least not yet and please keep it that way). Our Watson here (because Sherlock does not address her as Joan) is a calm and collected sober companion who would change his career into a consulting detective and Sherlock’s partner. As a former surgeon and an experienced sober companion, she comes off as a healer to broken things. Patients, drug addicts etc etc. She is supremely patience, smart, confidence and, though at times amazed at Sherlock’s skill, never deems Sherlock as a superior being. She also has a very clear mind and a great sense of control – something that Sherlock lacks.

elementary-super-bowl-cbsNow let’s talk about their chemistry. It did take me a few episodes to get over the GREATEST BROMANCE OF ALL TIME and neutralize my head to accept the partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson. It is surprisingly refreshing to see them together. The dynamic between Sherlock and Watson here is completely different. Sherlock calls Watson, Watson, perhaps because he’s not used to the name Joan. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I think Sherlock here is less affectionate to his partner compared to the BBC version, which does not make it a bad thing. Their dynamic relationship is akin to a relationship between an elder sister and a mischievous younger brother. Now, you don’t normally express your love to your sister, do you? Sherlock does care very much about Watson but he does not have to tell her because he knows she would always be there for him, to limit his impulsiveness and to control him. Yes, that’s the main difference between the BBC and the CBS versions of this chemistry – our Watson has the power to ACTUALLY restrain Sherlock.She was, at first, his sober companion – meaning she had to make sure he does not relapse. She made sure his habits are under control and forced her way into his life, though he disliked it at first. As time passed by, our man-child Sherlock realized that with Watson, he is a better man, a better recovered drug addict and a sharper detective. And God, I do find it enjoyable to see a Sherlock that listens and abides to someone’s opinions but himself. Now that is what makes this so sweet. Sherlock, being a recovered addict, did want to go back to his drugs but he confessed the only thing stopping him was that he did not want to disappoint Watson, who has been nagging on and on about it. When Irene Adler was staying at their apartment, he also insisted Watson to stay, because “this is your home,” as he said to her. I mean… that is so motherfucking sweet, I almost cried.

Ok… I’m done.

NOW that is a very long gibberish paragraphs of spazzings and fangirls over Sherlock and Elementary. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, thank you for creating the stories. I love your novels and love the fact that people keep adapting your stories again and again. You make my life so happy.

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