Bel: Channel Ten recently started showing a new program starring Lucy Liu and Johnny Lee Miller. Renee and I are going have a little chat about what we thought of the hit program Elementary.
Now you’re a bit of an old hat when it comes to Sherlock stuff, Renee?
Renee: I’m not actually! I read a few of the stories back in high school when studying crime fiction, and I enjoyed them, but I was certainly not an avid fan per say. And then when the Guy Ritchie films came out, I watched and enjoyed those, but it wasn’t really until the BBC’s modernisation that I really got into the fandom, properly.
Bel: I was a Sherlock virgin before this version. Hadn’t read any of the books nor watched movies or TV shows, so it was a bit of a shock to find out Sherlock was a bit of an oddball.
Renee: Well, yes – there have been so many different interpretations of his character over the years, but certainly many of the older film versions really perpetuated the image of this really classy, really aloof gentleman detective – which is partly in keeping with Conan Doyle and partly pure invention. But it became popular and stuck, which I suppose is both a good and bad thing, depending on whether you’re a purist or not!
Bel: So this most recent Sherlock is more abrupt and assertive than the other Sherlocks that came before him?
Renee: I would say so, yes. I mean, they certainly ‘roughed’ him up a little when Robert Downey Jr. played the part, but I think the recent TV adaptations have been highlighting some further character aspects that perhaps people are unaware, such as his addictions, his nocturnal habits, his extreme eccentricities etc.
Bel: It’s almost like he fits somewhere in the Autistic spectrum. Then I guess the real question is… is Miller’s Sherlock a likable character?
Renee: I would certainly say that Miller’s portrayal keeps the character likeable, at least to a certain extent, if not entirely sympathetic.
Because ultimately Sherlock isn’t necessary somebody that the audience is meant to fit alongside, emotionally. John Watson – or in this case, Joan – is really the audience onsider, and our window into the action etc. Sherlock is, in many respects, a character who remains at a distance. I am also a bit of a Jonny Lee Miller fan, though, so my response to his portrayal might be a tad biased, hehe!
Bel: So since I’d not known what to expect I was somewhat shocked, mainly by the rudeness. Digging very deeply into emotional wounds of Watson.
Renee: Yes, well this series has transported much of the original Watson’s war experiences and translated them into more intimate horrors from her career as a surgeon.
Bel: Then there is the whole thing of Watson being a… *gasp*… a woman.
Renee: Sigh! Yes, I can’t deny that a large part of me did – and still does, somewhat – have some misgivings about that decision. Regardless of whether or not you are a fan who thinks that there was something ‘more’ to the Holmes/Watson dynamic than just very close friendship and brotherly love, there has just come to be something…. sacred, I dare say… about this particular partnership being between two men. But there have equally been plenty of arguments in favour of “Joan Watson” and I suppose that so long as her function doesn’t change, then the gender of the character doesn’t matter (too much!)
Bel: Do you think they changed the sex of the character for this portrayal to add sexual tension, or do you think it was the creators’ avoiding the homosexual issues?
Renee: I sincerely hope it wasn’t the latter, and to be honest – if you’ve seen the Guy Ritchie films or the BBC adaptation, I think almost any viewer will tell you that sexual tension is still more than present between two male leads, hehe! Or at the very least there will always be plenty of chemistry, so long as it is cast correctly. No, I’ve seen quite a few articles and interviews in which the shows creators defend their decision to have a “Joan” by stating that it is still very much a ‘bromance’ but one of the bros just happens to be a woman. They also keep calling to question why any pairing of a man and a woman has to be seen as sexual/romantic, which I must admit is a very fair point to raise.
Bel: So as long as we don’t end up in a Bones/Castle situation where the 2 main leads end up in the sack, they can continue to be believed on that one.
Renee: Hehe,, yes! We’ll see!!
Bel: I feel like Lucy Liu is on the knife edge of being type cast. I don’t think I have seen too many movies/ TV shows she’s been in where she isn’t the moral, studious, token Asian lady.
Renee: I’ve not seen her in much, to be honest, aside from the old days when I used to watch the occasional Ally McBeal episode. I have to confess, I felt somewhat underwhelmed by her being cast in this role, but perhaps that was merely my initial pessimism talking!
Bel: Only time will tell.
So your overall thoughts of Elementary and a score out of 5?
Renee: Well, I am trying to remain optimistic and my admiration for Jonny still remains, and so I shall give it a solid 3.5 out of 5, I think. Despite my heart telling me it is somewhat redundant, it ultimately still promises to deliver some fine performances and some gripping mysteries, and really given the continuing popularity of Conan Doyle’s work, you can’t argue too heavily against more of what we love! And curiosity, I think, will always get the better of any Sherlock fan; we’ll tune in just to see what this adaptation will do!
Bel: I think the shocking bluntness of Miller’s portrayal of Sherlock mixed with the even-natured Liu’s Watson is a balance I haven’t seen on too many crime fighting shows.
Renee: It’s certainly a winning contrast And I hope you enjoy it – even enough for me to coax you into other viewings, hehe!
Bel: I give Elementary a 4 out of 5.
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