Friday, November 16, 2012

Sherlock Holmes is not Aquaman.

Sherlock Holmes is not Aquaman.

An obvious statement, that. Any five-year-old could look at Sherlock Holmes, look at Aquaman, and tell you that Sherlock Holmes is not Aquaman.

So why are the creators of Elementary treating Sherlock Holmes like he's Aquaman?

Aquaman, for those of you in need of a refresher, is a superhero who lives in the same world as Superman and Batman. He swims very fast, is kinda strong, and talks to fishes. Sometimes Aquaman is the king of Atlantis, sometimes not. The one thing that has always been true of Aquaman, since his debut in 1941, is that his comic books have never been strong on sales.

As a result, every new creative team who has been handed the assignment of writing and drawing Aquaman comes at the assignment with the same attitude: Our Aquaman is going to be the version that makes Aquaman popular at last.

And Aquaman has been through a lot of changes as a result. He's been a king and a lone wolf. He's had a hook for a hand and a beard. He's had a hand made of water and magical powers. He's been a young man, an old man, and he's been a dead man. Married, single, friend of humanity, foe of "land-dwellers" (humanity), and more.

Like Rodney Dangerfield, Aquaman just don't get no respect.

And it kind of makes sense. Since Aquaman has never been as big a hit as Superman or Batman, everyone thinks they can re-create him and make their particular vision of him the one that sticks in the public mind.

And this is where the thing that separates Sherlock Holmes and Aquaman becomes quite plain. Arthur Conan Doyle got Sherlock Holmes right the first time. For a hundred years, other writers have not been trying to build a better Holmes . . . they've been trying to do as good as Doyle did to start with.

So when the creators of Elementary come along this year and basically try to re-create Holmes and Watson like they're two-dimensional comic book characters in need of another layer of personality, one can't be faulted for considering that they might just be making a mistake.

Because Sherlock Holmes is not Aquaman. Not even close.


  1. I'm no victorian maiden, really, I'm not - but this:

    "I left some urine in your room."

    "Please tell me it's in a cup!"

    is just GROSS!!!

    Are there really people who like this crude writing? Especially in this context? What's next? A farting contest...?

    I don't understand the need of some people to draw SH down to their own level. He's brilliant, snarky, a bit otherworldly, mysterious. And that's the way he should stay. He's not your buddy. You don't clap him on the shoulder and say, "Let's have a beer!"

    And if that's the only way you have to interact with the world, I pity you. You probably are the kind who draws a moustache on the Monalisa....

    1. I'd take it a step further and suggest that some people actually like to see their TV geniuses dragged below their own level with addictions, neuroses, and even rampant hallucinations. The idea of a Sherlock Holmes being a level above without some balancing handicap is apparently not as acceptable to the mass market as it was in Victorian times . . . at least not in America.

  2. I blame it on democracy... (no, I don't have a better idea for a form of government and for the moment it seems the best we can come up with, but it *does* mean the rule of the stupid).

    On Television Without Pity (TWOP) - where btw 'Sherlock' with its six episodes has generated 431 pages of comments, whereas 'Elementary' warrants up to now only 71 - a commenter once said that 'Sherlock' was too clever by far and every TV show should only be so clever that a grown-up could do their ironing with it or that a ten year old could understand it. Oookay...

  3. Have you seen this?

  4. Can you point me to your "Sherlock Holmes is not Rain Man" and "Sherlock Holmes is not Bruce Lee" pieces?