Would you recommend the original Conan Doyle stories of Sherlock Holmes to an Elementary fan?
Silly question, right? We're Sherlock Holmes fans, we recommend the Doyle stories to anyone.
But as season two of Elementary approaches, and I contemplate everything the first season gave us, imagining a new fan of Sherlock Holmes who has gotten all of his or her Holmes input from the CBS television show and what they might think when presented with the Canon of Olde, I have to wonder.
We all have our different paths to Sherlock Holmes. Movies, television, pastiches . . . and normally they share some common ground with Doyle's tales, making the transition not too bad. Victorian London, 221B Baker Street, the familiar characters -- all those await the fan of the Downey movies who makes the transition to Doyle. And even though BBC Sherlock is set in the modern day, reading A Study in Scarlet will seem fairly familiar after watching A Study in Pink. Afghanistan, pills, cabman. (What is it about BBC Sherlock that makes one want to use three one-word clues? Oh, yes. Teasers.)
But putting one's self in the place of a CBS Elementary fan who had no previous exposure to Sherlock Holmes . . . what are they going to find in the Doyle stories that reminds them of the TV show they've grown to love? Joan Watson is nowhere to be found. Ditto Clyde the turtle. Mrs. Hudson isn't nearly as bright or interesting. Likewise Inspector Gregson.
After making it through A Study in Scarlet, and the Mormon section that is a letdown for every first-timer, the get to the cocaine references of The Sign of the Four and go, "Ah, the addiction is starting! Now we're getting somewhere." And then, immediately after it comes, "A Scandal in Bohemia," and the introduction of the lovely Irene Adler. They get a glimmer of hope for the Sherlock Holmes they saw on CBS.
But the drug issue disappears from sight, as does Ms. Adler, and a bunch of stories later, this guy named Moriarty shows up. And he's not pretty and blonde at all. He's kind of a nerdy old dude.
If they make it through fifty-six stories, they'll get to see Sherlock Holmes keep bees. Along the way they'll get to see a guy named Moran who is nothing like their Moran, a Milverton who is almost a Victorian prequel to their Milverton, and . . . what? Papa Holmes never shows up at all, and of all the off-screen Elementary characters, he's the one I'd be going back to the source to see, were I a fan.
Perhaps the second season will give Elementary fans more of a reason to seek out the Canon to increase their appreciation for their favorite show, but right now? If I was to put myself in their place, I don't think I'd enjoy Doyle at all.