Television critics are unhappy with CBS’s latest series, a new Sherlock Holmes drama called “Elementary.”
They voiced their opinions at the Summer TV Press tour on Sunday, where they accused CBS of ripping off other shows. On the other hand, they love “Sherlock,” on PBS.
“Sherlock” executive producer, Steven Moffatt, told IGN that CBS had actually approached him to do another Sherlock Holmes series, but “we said no, we weren’t ready to do that yet, but keep in touch. And then a few weeks later, we discovered that they were just going ahead and doing it anyway.”
The PBS version features Benedict Cumberbatch (“War Horse,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) as Sherlock and Martin Freeman (“Hot Fuzz,” “The Hobbit”) as Watson in a modern-day adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels. The CBS version will feature Johnny Lee Miller (“Trainspotting,” “Dark Shadows”) and Lucy Liu (“Kill Bill,” “Charlie’s Angels”), with Miller as Sherlock and Liu as Watson.
According to Moffat, the competing shows are just “another example of what happens in L.A. television.” He also added that he “wasn’t very impressed by it.” In fact, if it is too similar to his own version, which features Holmes living in present day England using modern technology to solve crimes, “We’ll have to take action.”
One change in “Elementary” is that Watson is played by a woman, and that the series takes place in New York.
According to Miller, “Our Sherlock is a puzzle-solver. I really think that’s his obsession. To a point, you might call it an addiction. In many senses he has an additive personality. The original Sherlock dabbled with cocaine and opiates. Our Sherlock had those same problems… but the big difference is our Sherlock hit a serious wall. To his great surprise, the world is not as easy as he thought. Something terrible happened to him in London and he spiraled out of control.”
Liu added that her version of Watson will be less bumbling sidekick, more brilliant partner. “Historically, it’s been a bit skewed,” she said. “Originally, if you’ve ever been able to read the actual literature, Watson is actually not really comedic.
“The foot in the bucket and that kind of Watson happened because in entertainment there’s got to be a sidekick. In this case, I don’t think that’s the direction we’re going in. But ask me in six episodes. If I have a foot in a bucket, we’re going to have a discussion,” she added.
Cumberbatch also weighed in on the new show, particularly in the casting of Liu. “If I were the [producer of ‘Elementary’], I’d be frightened of the dynamic of male friendship that you’d lose. Because that is obviously the bedrock of the books as well. [Now] there might be sexual tension between Joan [Watson] and Sherlock, which is [a different dynamic than you’d have] between the two men. So, that’s a new thing to explore,” he said to TVLine.
However, Cumberbatch is overall positive about the new show. “I wish them luck, I really do. I think it will be great. It will be a different spin on it, because obviously, theirs is modern-day as well, so it needs to be different from ours, and I think the more differences, the better, to be honest. I don’t see why they shouldn’t co-exist with us. I don’t think they’ll steal our audience. I think people who are Holmes fans who think they do a good job of it will have a treat in watching ours and the films. So I wish them good luck!”
CBS will premiere “Elementary” on Thursday, September 27, while season three of “Sherlock” has been reported to begin filming in early 2013.