Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An asterisk in the record books.

Les Klinger recently tweeted a fact that's come around more than a few times of late, "To be clear: Jonny Lee Miller & Lucy Liu will soon have appeared ON SCREEN as SH & JW more times & more hours than anyone else!"
And technically, that's correct. They will have appeared on screen as characters with the initials "S.H." and "J.W." more than any other characters with those initials. But we immediately come back to the original question that has been raised from episode one of Elementary: Are Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu portraying Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson, M.D.?

I know at least one Sherlockian film expert who would lean strongly toward the side of "no" on that one. As past blogs would indicate, I am also of that opinion. While I've reached the "acceptance" stage of the K├╝bler-Ross model of confronting death, be it actual death or the killing of a beloved character, when Jonny Lee Miller comes on-screen, there is still no part of me that reacts, "Hey, it's Sherlock Holmes!"

Interestingly, CBS, the network behind Elementary, has even acknowledged that there might be a Sherlock more popular than their Sherlock in an episode of Two Broke Girls, a fact that I take great delight in, having used that show to prove a point about Elementary early on, substituting the names "Sherlock Holmes" and "Joan Watson" for its main characters and still finding the plot made as much sense as any episode of Elementary. But CBS is probably just comfortable enough in their ratings at this point that they just don't see the BBC version as a threat. They're not looking to make their mark on history, after all, just to get people to stay tuned to their network for one more hour on one more Thursday night.

And yet, there is history being made. More screen hours than any other character with the name "Sherlock Holmes" is a record for the books. But I can't help feeling it needs a big ol' asterisk after it.

8 comments:

  1. A big ol' asterisk with AT LEAST three exclamation points ! ! ! MAYBE four ! ! ! !

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  2. I guess it comes down to who (if anyone) gets to decide who is acceptable as S.H. and J.W. With all the problems people have with Nigel Bruce as Watson we can hardly complain when someone does not meet up to accepted standards.
    Was Nigel Bruce really playing John Watson M.D.?

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    1. Good point! Though many adore Rathbone as Holmes, I can't quite get there because of Nigel Bruce using the name "Watson."

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    2. While the Rathbone movies are popular, fans have complained about Watson since the beginning. I think if they were done today, with all the other Sherlock Holmes to pick from, they wouldn't be that popular. But back then, there weren't that many alternatives, so it set the standard until Jeremy Brett came along and showed them how to do it right.
      In the end though...it is way more important to get Holmes right than getting Watson right. There have been a string of terrible Watsons over the years. The audience tends to forgive as long as Holmes is well done.

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  3. Of course, BBC's show could have been called "Adrian", with Cumberbatch playing Adrian Monk, Freeman as Nat Teeger, Gatiss as older brother Ambrose, Graves as DCI Stottlemeyer, Brealey as pathologist Molly Disher, and Stubbs as Mrs. (Sharona) Fleming. The discussion would be about how great the Brits are at taking our shows and improving them rather than Americans trashing English programs. Personally, despite the acting skills of Cumberbatch and Freeman, I feel that Steven Moffat is working hard to supply "Sherlock" with asterisks of its own. #bombs with off switches are the new sexy

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  4. There are asterisks with every adaptation. The Granada series should have been called "The Adventures of Jeremy Brett"; the new BBC is Doctor Who Dark; the Frewers are "aboot" Sherlock; the updated Rathbones are Solar Pons, etc. Enjoy 'em all as iterations of the impossible-to-match-or-duplicate literary original.

    Signed, an Elementary Fan

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  5. Hold each to their own merits and flaws.

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