Thursday, January 23, 2014

Comparative Superior Human Studies 101.

Given their very different schedules, it isn't often we get to compare BBC Sherlock and CBS Elementary head to head. Yet this month, not only did we get new episodes of both, there is at least one scene in each that actually makes for a good head-to-head comparison.

In Elementary's "The Diabolical Kind," Jamie Moriarty and Joan Watson have a conversation about how much superior Moriarty and Holmes are over normal folk, and in Sherlock's "The Empty Hearse," we get a similar conversation between Sherlock and Mycroft. Both concern themselves with intellectual superiority and human connection, and even the quickest comparison demonstrates obvious differences in the way geniuses are portrayed between the two shows.

For Elementary's go at the subject, we find ourselves in Joan Watson's corner, as Moriarty arrogantly tell her that she will never connect with Holmes as Moriarty does, because she simply isn't smart enough. Joan is the "normal" person under verbal attack for being normal, even though she's shown us how bright she is, time after time, even out-thinking both her Holmes and Moriarty characters on occasion. It's definitely a view of genius as "the other."

When Sherlock hits the topic, we are squarely behind little brother Sherlock -- in the "smart people club" this time -- as the scene plays out. Sherlock may be a massive genius, but Mycroft is a more massive genius and lording it over his sibling. Ordinary folk get referred to as "goldfish," but Sherlock defends the true worth of having them around, and even suggests that his brother is lesser for their absence.

One can take these two scenes and expand them to see one of the prime differences between the two shows: In Elementary, the uber-intellectual is the odd duck, the queer outsider who must be tolerated for the one useful skill he possesses. In Sherlock, he is the dear friend or brother who is just a bit smarter than the rest, but still a beloved member of the family.

At least that's my morning view, a bit clunkily expressed for lack of caffeine. And probably why I favor Sherlock, at least a little bit . . . .

1 comment:

  1. "In Sherlock, he is the dear friend or brother who is just a bit smarter than the rest, but still a beloved member of the family." Yes, and we see how Sherlock treats his parents; a little less than "beloved".