Sherlock vs. Elementary


A couple months ago, a good friend and I discovered the wonderful world of BBC original programming. This new found obsession started with a show called Luther. After finishing Luther, my friend and I moved to the critically acclaimed series Sherlock. Sherlock is a modern day twist on the classic detective story about Sherlock Holmes and his trusty partner Dr. Watson. The show is one of the best I have ever watched and is definitely a must see. A couple weeks ago, my friend and I found out that CBS was going to premiere their own version of a modernized Sherlock Holmes called Elementary. That’s when I decided to look into if there were any connections between the shows.

So far, there has been a lot of controversy leading up to the premiere of Elementary over the similarities between the two shows. Originally, when CBS was in the preproduction of their version, they contacted the Sherlock showrunner Steven Moffat to come to America and help develop it. However, Moffat and his producing partner declined. Shortly after declining, CBS announced that they were still going forward with their version of the show. The major difference between the two shows, when CBS announced their version, was that the iconic Dr. Watson role was going to be played by a woman. Moffat told that, “They’ve got three big changes: its Sherlock Holmes in America, its Sherlock Holmes updates and its Sherlock Holmes with a female Watson. I wonder if he’s Sherlock Holmes in any sense other than he’s called Sherlock Holmes.” CBS was warned by Sherlock producer Sue Vertue in a The Independent news article from February, a British newspaper, “that they will be looking at their (CBS) finished pilot very closely for any infringement of our rights.” CBS responded to the comments saying, “That their project will be based on Holmes, Watson and other character in the public domain and that they would be respectful to all copyrights laws and will not infringe on any stories or works that may still be protected.” Even Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who plays Sherlock Holmes in the BBC version, is skeptical about how the CBS version would do. His main concern was how Elementary would “lose the dynamic of male friendship” that Holmes and Watson have between one another. He even raises the question about whether there would be any “sexual tension between the female Watson and Sherlock Holmes.”

Overall, it will be very interesting to see the similarities and differences between the two shows once Elementary finally premieres. After watching Sherlock, I believe that there will definitely be some similarities in the show and that is why I am not going to watch it. I think Elementary is a copy of Sherlock and CBS maybe thought that they would get around any copyright infringement by making Watson a woman. I agree with what Benedict Cumberbatch, that if there is sexual tension in Elementary that it will put in jeopardy the relationship and bond that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson have that was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Maybe if Elementary gets good reviews, I might check out an episode, but, as of right now there is only one modern Sherlock Holmes that I watch, Sherlock.



Ausiello, Michael. “Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch Breaks His Silence on CBS’ Elementary: ‘I’d Be Frightened'” TVLine. TVLine Media, 29 July 2012. Web. 15 Sept. 2012. <;.

Sherwin, Adam. “Jonny Lee Miller to Play Sherlock Holmes in US Series.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 15 Feb. 2012. Web. 15 Sept. 2012. <;.

Wieselman, Jarett. “Sherlock vs. “Sherlock”” The Insider, 16 May 2012. Web. 15 Sept. 2012. <;.

Sherlock Vs. Elementary. N.d. Photograph. Screen Rant. By Scott Stoute. Screen Rant, LLC, Aug. 2012. Web. 15 Sept. 2012. <;.

  1. I do really enjoy t he BBC’s Sherlock, and am equally interested in seeing where Elementary will take the classic detective story. But the only way to find out is to not only rely on what I read, but actually, with an open mind, watch the US version Elementary. I watch at least three episodes before makng up my mind (once I have decided to give something a try). I would be intersted in reading more from you about the show once it premieres and especially about where you see difference that come from the different cultural backgrounds applied here (USA vs UK). Did the US network have to make alterations to merely set it apart from the BBC series or maybe to strengthen cultural proxiity? What about the fact that there is much talk of sexual tension between Holmes and Sherlock in the BBC version too (although clearly shown as not actually existing between the two friends, Holmes’ sexuality is decidedly “broad”)?
    In other words, rejecting the show because of whayou believe it may do to the version you like is maybe to easy a way out. After all, Sherlock is the gazillionth version/adaptation of the ACD novels, an if most of these had been rejected, there would be no Sherlock now. 🙂

    • Great perspective on approaching Elementary!

      I have been a life long Sherlockian and I am liking Elementary so far. I am not a fan of BBC Sherlock. I think that show is quite overrated. As you rightly pointed out, the BBC series or CBS Elementary will not be the last adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. He is a character in the public domain and anyone can make any adaptation of the character as they wish.

      Nice to meet someone with such an open mind and fresh perspective towards Elementary!

      Have a nice day!

  2. BBC programming is by far the best television in the world right now, so its no surprise that CBS would try and make their own version of Sherlock in the US. But in all honesty I am not really all that worried about Elementary copying the Sherlock formula. In reality the show is going to be a House knock off. Where Sherlock solves weekly puzzles just in the nick of time with the aid of Watson, who acts as both Cuddy and Wilson. The only real question I have is how the show is going to handle Sherlocks drug addiction? I can’t imagine him popping pills like House and he won’t use nicotine patches like his BBC counter part so im stumped. All in all its not so much a question of whether or not Elementary is going to be bad, its a question of how bad its going to be.

  3. Van said:

    I must say, as a yank who has been watching BBC Sherlock from the beginning, I do not care to even debut CBS’s “Elementary.” It is not cannonical, what with the simply unpleasant Lucy Liu. And what’s-his-name as Sherlocklooks like a plain ol’ junkie. I have not watched anything on the woefully bad CBS in years now, and considering this is their third attempt in as many years to get a franchise based on Sherlock Holmes off the ground, I think it’s a safe bet it will suck.
    One more small point: I have noticed a peculiar thing about one of the leads on the BBC Sherlock programme: I truly love Martin Freeman; he is my type. But ususlly when someone like him, who is on the verge of real, big time stardom, goes out, they have handlers who look after the small details. But Martin…I don’t know, but he has some points out of place. I saw a vid of him at Comin Con on youtube, and he was just a mess. Sweat stains under the arms of his jacket, a nasty little hat and a polo shirt. I used to be an attending pro at Comic Con, and I would never have shown up to a panel looking like that. Do Brits simply not care, what impression they make Stateside? And like I said, I love this guy! I know he is not wed to the gal he shacks up with, but I can’t help but think a woman he was actually MARRIED to would have begun training him in civilised detais like dress shieds and button-down shirts. Oh, well…

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