Monday, September 1, 2014

A new "Monk?"

A nice Sherlock Holmes-based look at the fall TV season was passed along via the WelcomeHolmes list yesterday. Sam Thielman, writer of the ADWEEK article, finds at least five shows on this year that seem to be inspired by our favorite detective.  There's Sherlock and Elementary, to be sure, along with The Mentalist, which we've already seen, but now two more entries to Holmes-world come into the picture, and they make for an interesting contrast.

One is about a English-accented immortal detective . . . sounds familiar, right?  Except he actually is immortal and uses his Highlander powers to solve crimes. It stars Ioan Gruffudd as the investigator, an actor who has been great in roles (Hornblower) and awful in roles (Reed Richards) depending upon what he's been cast in. A look at the previews makes me think this might be leaning toward the latter side and falling in the "Hey, he's got an English accent, so he's smart!" category of Sherlock imitators.

More interesting, and definitely on my "try it out" list, is Backstrom, starring that marvelous actor Rainne Wilson as an addicted genius detective with a Watson . . . but no British accent. Backstrom's previews show off that it definitely has the clever going for it, reminding one of House, Monk, and Bones, all shows that a Sherlockian could love with original characters who, while not being complete attempts to copy Sherlock Holmes, were definitely heirs to his legacy.

Monk, it will be remembered, seemed to focus on the observation/deduction side of Sherlock's bag of detective tools. Backstrom looks like it will be focussing on the Holmes method he expressed in "The Musgrave Ritual" with "You know my methods in such cases, Watson: I put myself in the man's place, and having first gauged his intelligence, I try to imagine how I should myself have proceeded under the same circumstances."

With two shows where the character is specifically named "Sherlock Holmes," perhaps we'll have a harder time getting a Sherlock fix from a guy without that name like we were forced to back in the days of Monk, but hey, a good show is a good show. But without the pressures of having to live up to the actual legend of Sherlock Holmes, which affects the two name shows in different ways, Backstrom might just be free-spirited fun. Being on Fox, of course, it will be "succeed quickly or die" for the show, so we'll find out soon enough.

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