Monday, May 12, 2014

Inspired by Sherlock Holmes. One of them, anyway.

Some days, I just want to think about Sherlock Holmes, and not CBS's Elementary. And I set my sites on some Holmes topic that interests me to muse upon as time allows on a given day. But then, before I head off to work, I make the mistake of looking at some incoming comment on a previous blog from the night before, and it gets me thinking. Last night's comment, by some kindly Anonymous sort, was this:

"Why is it so hard to understand that Elementary isn't trying to tell the stories that have been told over and over again . . . . its a show about Sherlock Holmes in a modern time. Thats it. Its not about the stories, just the characters in new stories that only sometimes are inspired by the books. If you want a modern version of the books, you watch Sherlock with Cumberbatch . . . they are different shows for a reason."

That, it turns out, has been one of my favorite comments from an Elementary fan. Someone simply trying to straighten out my simple misunderstanding, rather than diagnosing my mental maladies or telling me to do something horrible to myself. A little bit frustrated, but I understand that. I can be a bit frustrating at times, even in my loveably sweet in-person, non-blogger self.

Suggesting that Elementary is merely an "inspired by," instead of a "based upon" really does make the show a bit more palatable for me, from a Sherlockian sense. We know for a fact that it was inspired by the success of BBC Sherlock, and I'd venture a guess that touch of Robert Downey inspiration was in there, too, given the lead's lack of height and scruffiness.

I totally buy Elementary as an "inspired by" show, in this era of all those "inspired by true events" movies that take a seed from something that really happened and build it into a happy and usually inspiring drama. But once I find a way for my Sherlockian side to accept Elementary, my TV-watching side comes into play. The side that loved Moonlighting, Key West, Firefly, Profit, Deadwood, a bunch of the Treks (but not all), Sledge Hammer, Kung Fu, True Blood, Gilligan's Island, Hawaii Five-0, Arrow, Xena, Now and Again, Highlander, Bonanza, Search, I Spy, Hardcastle and McCormick, The Munsters, Twin Peaks, The Beverly Hillbillies, Days of Our Lives, The Match Game, Dark Shadows (first and second editions), Barbary Coast, Babylon Five, Orange is the New Black, Here Come the Brides, Raven, Ellery Queen, High Chaparral, Sanford and Son . . . well, I could go on and on, but you get the idea. That guy? My TV-watching side who has watched the medium evolve from black-and-white cowboy shoot-em-ups to character-based dark dramas with serial killers as central figures?

That guy doesn't like Elementary on a whole different level. He just doesn't think it's a good show, up to what we've become accustomed to these days. Probably wouldn't even watch it all, like so many other routine procedurals, laugh-track dependent sitcoms, and so-so shows that just don't rise above the pack. Sure, they might just do the job if he was just wanting to veg out and only had the three major networks. But with all the entertainment choices currently available on cable and streaming? It's not running with the front-runners, to be sure. And that product of the TV generation, that guy, he doesn't like it.

And the only reason that fellow would watch Elementary was if the other side of his personality, the one enamored with Sherlock Holmes, made him do it. Because at least one Sherlock Holmes fan who doesn't like the show needs to watch it and report back to those Sherlockians who don't like it, aren't going to watch it, but still are a bit curious . . . because they're Sherlockians. They can't help but wonder either.

Ah, if only I could watch Benedict Cumberbatch once a week on Thursday nights at nine Central and write a blog about that show . . . if only I could. Elementary fans would not hear a peep out of me. But  the BBC, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Stephen Moffat, and Mark Gatiss apparently will not give them that simple little pleasure. Pity.

For now, I'll wander off to be inspired by Sherlock Holmeses who aren't created by American television. And hope no one brings me back to Elementary-land by the dawn's early light. 

1 comment:

  1. You work has only confirmed my suspicion that Elementary is probably not worth my time. May I take this space to discuss my current un-favorite TV show?

    AMC's TUR(backwards)N is supposedly based on the Real History of the Real Culper Spy Ring in the Real American Revolution. They keep reminding us! However, I've been brushing up on the Revolution ever since Sleepy Hollow finished its season. That batshit fantasy, with its witty writing & vivid characters, doesn't claim to do anything but entertain. However, the writers do know their history--then they gleefully equip The Headless Hessian with a shotgun & a semi-automatic when he reappears in 21st century Sleepy Hollow.

    To me, it's quite obvious that TURN is only "inspired by" history. But all the rewriting has not made it more entertaining--only more boring. It started out slow, focusing on the invented emotional problems of a real Culper spy--depicted as a cabbage farmer clad in a hipster beanie & a leather jacket. Who has an Oirish accent, although his father speaks "American."

    That slow beginning was reflected in the ratings. It's gotten more entertaining--with a creditable George Washington (no, he wasn't a a creaky old man) & three Brits gleefully chewing up the scenery as The Nutso Redcoat, The By-The-Book Redcoat & The Sexy Redcoat. But its lost most of its audience.

    It's almost possible to forgive historical (or canon) inaccuracy if a show is really entertaining. If it isn't, what's the point? Sunday night is overburdened with great TV--Mad Men & Game of Thrones! In my market, TURN conflicts with Call the Midwife. So I watch the midwives in grubby 50's London & check out the faux-Revolution On Demand.....