Elementary gets its Sherlock

Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone, Emma) has been tapped to play Sherlock Holmes in CBS’ Elementary. The show will see Miller’s Sherlock in present day New York, where he will be tech savvy  (using text messaging and the internet to communicate) and solve crimes. The formula is familiar—with the show clearly taking a page straight out of BBC’s Sherlock, though CBS denies it.

Its an interesting casting move for CBS considering Miller shared the lead roles of Dr. Frankenstein and The Creature with Benedict Cumberbatch in last Summer’s production of Frankenstein at the National Theater. Cumberbatch, of course, is most notably known for bringing the infamous consulting detective into the 21st Century, in the Moffat/Gatiss smash hit production Sherlock.

When news first broke that CBS would be creating its own modern Sherlock, Moffat and company quickly jumped to protect its program. Sue Vertue, executive producer and co-creator Steven Moffat’s wife, said “We understand that CBS are doing their own version of an updated Sherlock Holmes. It’s interesting, as they approached us a while back about remaking our show. At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernized Sherlock Holmes doesn’t resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying. We are very proud of our show and like any proud parent, will protect the interest and well being of our offspring.”

CBS has gone on to say their show won’t be anything like the BBC’s production and that’s true to some extent. CBS is doing the series to simply cash-in on the Sherlock mania, while the BBC’s is a labor of love—written by Moffat/Gatiss, two very dedicated fans to the canon. And you have to remember the CBS series won’t have the Cumberbatch/Freeman dream team.

What’s bothering me about today’s news though is Miller’s choice to take on the role. Miller must know he is taking part in a production that the creators (and possibly even the cast) of Sherlock are against. He’s stepping into a role that Cumberbatch has made entirely his own and that fans will vehemently protect—especially if they believe Miller is imitating Cumberbatch’s performance.

Spielberg himself has said Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is the best he’s ever seen on screen.
Spielberg said that.
It may as well have been God saying it.

I understand a job is a job but I find it odd, and perhaps slightly shady, that he would say yes. Granted, maybe he has read the script and its completely different from the BBC’s show, I don’t know. But you would think the man would want to stop having his performance compared to Cumberbatch—because you know that’s what’s going to happen.

I’m curious if CBS is hoping the Cumberbatch magic rubbed off on Miller during their run at the National Theater? See, while Miller is great and relatively known to the U.S. public,  he is no Cumberbatch. He has no real command of the screen. He doesn’t exactly draw viewers into the story.  And lets face it, he’s not all that memorable.

Admittedly though I feel bad for Miller. Contrary to what you may think, I actually like him as an actor, I’m just afraid this has “crap” written all over it. Because like last summer’s Frankenstein, where Benedict’s performances of both Frankenstein and the Creature was the clear cut favorite (over Miller’s interpretations), Miller (and his Sherlock) will once again live in the Cumbershadow.

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6 thoughts on “Elementary gets its Sherlock

  1. I’m wondering if the folks that watch CBS shows are even aware of BBC’s Sherlock. That might spare Miller some slings and arrows. CBS needs a new crime TV show with its CSI juggernaut slowing.

  2. They did it before to “The Office”. People like things like these but there are many fandom who against Elementary. The fact is, we’re gonna wait and see how it works. A Sherlock in New York ? That would be interesting.

    • The problem with this is that CBS was told NO by the BBC and Sherlock producers. They were denied the right to remake the series for US television. That wasn’t the case with The Office. Ricky Gervais sold them the rights and served as EP. He’s also selling the show to other countries as well.

      I’m curious how they’ll tackle it. BBC and Moffat and company have done such a brilliant job with the show, I don’t think CBS can top it, especially since US tv shows are 22 episodes long–There are only 56 Sherlock stories in the canon if I’m right. What’s makes the BBC series so wonderful is how close the stories stick to Sir ACD’s work. CBS will likely deviate from that since they have to produce so many episodes. What I’m really waiting to see is who they cast as Watson.

  3. Totally agree with you! This is such a bad idea. I’m getting so tired of the US remakes of original UK shows. They are always a poorer version, catering to the masses, rather than original, creative, inspiring TV. Argh! I like Miller but agree this is a bad move. There is no way he can surpass BC in this role. He’s been trying to make it in US television before but his shows never really take off (remember Eli Stone?)
    On another note, would so have loved to see Miller and Cumberbatch on stage together! Saw Miller on stage in London many years ago, he was good, but with Benny? Now that would have been amazing!

  4. The UK shows are better because they don’t dumb things down for audiences. American TV is so dumbed down its ridiculous!

    I like Jonny, but there is something about this that really bothers me.

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