Perhaps you have noticed that I am a fan of the BBC’s ‘Sherlock’. It’s true! In case you didn’t pick it up from the many teenage-girl-at-a-Beatles-concert-toned references, I think ‘Sherlock’ is just the bee’s knees*. This is especially true of the second season, which has finally started airing here, and which proves the show has hit its stride, finding the perfect balance of tight plotting, incredibly smart writing, and a relationship between Holmes and Watson that is so delightful one imagines a spin-off show called ‘Menial Errands with Sherlock and Watson’ would still be better than most things on television.
But of course, I’m not the only one who’s noticed this. And America has a funny habit of noticing something great from another country, and just spontaneously coming up with an idea that just happens to be very similar (I’m almost surprised early settlers didn’t start making large conical dwellings and saying to the Native Americans, “What, these things? We just designed them, we’ve been thinking about them for years. We call them Peetees. Oh, you have something similar? What a coincidence!!”) So CBS has announced that it will be making ‘Elementary’, a contemporary Sherlock Holmes adaptation. Sound familiar?
Their biggest spin is to turn Watson into a woman, which, in brief, I worry about (Sherlock Holmes is by definition smarter than everyone else around him, I worry that his impatient snapping at Watson’s inability to keep up will turn what is amusingly irritating in most versions into something ickily misogynistic). But they’ve cast Lucy Liu, who is awesome, so I guess we’ll have to see.
But what about the biggest question that hangs over any possible telling of the Holmes story; who is the great man himself? That’s where it gets interesting. For playing Sherlock in this version is Jonny Lee Miller.
Now, Jonny Lee Miller is reliably excellent and always interesting, so that’s a plus. But more importantly, Jonny Lee Miller was also in the National Theatre’s Danny Boyle-directed version of ‘Frankenstein’, with the man, the myth, the legend, ‘Sherlock’s own Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch (or, according to the Washington Post, Bandersnatch Cummerbund). And they alternated the roles of the doctor and the monster every night.
So, see what I’m getting at here? We have two men already familiar with alternating roles, both playing the same iconic role in two contemporary adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, which is famous for having two main male parts. So instead of just competing (on a side note, I really hope these guys are either the best of friends, or that every time they see each other they face off, fingers nervously hovering over their belts, a la the OK Corral), why not find a more elegant solution?
Luckily, I’m not the first to have thought of this.
Thanks, ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’. And you’re welcome, CBS.
*That’s a little Sherlock reference for y’all right there, because Sherlock Holmes was a beekeeper in the original stories. See what I did there? BAM. Although, bee’s don’t actually have knees, so Sherlock’s commitment to facts would… you know what, nevermind.