Is One Really Better Than the Other? Sherlock VS Elementary

In comparison to looking at comedy in translation it often appears that drama is more often successfully translated. Perhaps this is because drama is a more universal topic as it often follows a particular plot outline which is familiar to everyone. One such drama which is recognisable to everyone is the story of Sherlock Holmes, which has been adapted numerous times since the first novel, A Study in Scarlet, was published in 1887 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In comparison to looking at comedy in translation it often appears that drama is more often successfully translated. Perhaps this is because drama is a more universal topic as it often follows a particular plot outline which is familiar to everyone. One such drama which is recognisable to everyone is the story of Sherlock Holmes, which has been adapted numerous times since the first novel, A Study in Scarlet, was published in 1887 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Currently Sherlock’s story is being portrayed in two different highly acclaimed dramas; the UK Sherlock and the US Elementary. As Sherlock came first out of the two many people instantly favoured it over Elementary. However, Elementary has a lot of modern adaptions which work for it and set it apart from various other adaptions of the famous drama. A major difference between the two is that in Elementary Watson is played by a woman of colour, an interesting twist on the traditional character. Steven Moffat, the writer of the UK series has been criticised when it “comes to depicting characters who are not cisgendered straight white men.” Furthermore Watson in Elementary “is utterly respected by her counterpart. Rather than playfully belittling his partner the way that Cumberbatch’s version is frequently known for, Johnny Lee Miller’s Sherlock holds Watson in an esteem that is expressed outwardly to her.” (Asher-Perrin, 2014)

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When focusing on overall differences it becomes apparent that there are varying factors in the established format of how the show is produced. Whilst Sherlock follows the traditional detective narrative of an ‘English country house’, a format often likened to Agatha Christie adaptions, Elementary uses the idea of an ‘American private eye’, which requires more plausibility.  As such, Sherlock remains more loyal to the original by incorporating British locations and characters which are typically English. However, by doing so it remains more traditional and conservative whereas Elementary allows for a different perspective on the well-told classic whilst maintaining core character and plot traits. One thing which both versions of Sherlock’s character retain is ‘Englishness’ which is necessary to authentically display the authority of the character.

As such, picking a the better adaption between the two probably comes down to an individual’s preference. Both illustrate different versions which encompass the legend of Sherlock Homes in different ways, both being critically acclaimed and watched across the globe.

References:

Asher-Perrin, E. (2014). Battling Super Sleuths: The Awkward Case of Elementary, Sherlock, and Building the Better Adaptation | Tor.com. [online] Tor.com. Available at: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/02/battling-super-sleuths-the-awkward-case-of-elementary-sherlock-and-building-the-better-adaptation [Accessed 13 Oct. 2014].

Penny, L. (2014). Laurie Penny on Sherlock: The Adventure of the Overzealous Fanbase. [online] Newstatesman.com. Available at: http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/01/sherlock-and-adventure-overzealous-fanbase [Accessed 13 Oct. 2014].

YouTube, (2013). Sherlock BBC vs. Elementary (Sherlock/Watson) | The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aozbi-Gexdk [Accessed 15 Oct. 2014]

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