Sherlock versus Elementary: Developments, Developments, Developments


by Noor Alnaqeeb (@nooralnaqeeb)

Ladies and gentlemen, gather around. Here ye, we have the third installment of the ‘Sherlock versus Elementary’ series. One problem though: in this week’s Elementary there was hardly anything Sherlockian to explore. The episode was well written, well directed and well performed but I couldn’t help but be left wanting. I was left wanting more of a consciousness of development behind the scenes. Elementary hasn’t yet established where it’s going to go, but it’s pretty obvious where it presently is: a string of conventional, case-to-case and unrelated episodes. And this Sherlock Holmes fan can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. Here I am trying to find some juicy character, plot or story development to dissect and compare with BBC’s Sherlock, but I am merely left with the question, “What else?”

Perhaps it is the simple reason that BBC has more time to delve into a story at ninety minutes per episode, or that there are only three episodes per season, but Sherlock’s developments were sincerely, well… developing. Character progression was visibly seen from moment to moment – the plot thickened and all that jazz. The introduction of Moriarty, Irene Adler, Mycroft and various other characters had Sherlock’s audience enticed and interested. So tell us Elementary, what else is there? When are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters going to decide they’re not just fashionably late anymore? When is Elementary going to go full-fledged Sherlock Holmes?

Don’t get me wrong; as an isolated episode, stripped of the celebrity status of Sherlock Holmes, this Elementary episode was genuinely intense. The suspense factor, misleading clues and major twists kept the audience guessing and definitely kept them eager for answers. The witty dialogue, sharp delivery and comedic timing made this episode enjoyable to watch as the characters seemed to be appreciating the relationships that were unfolding between them. The cast may have reached the “we are Elementary” moments of production. The engaging exchanges between Holmes and Watson as well as the eccentric Sherlockian moments of realization were framed perfectly with quirky, peculiar music. Bringing us to one point the production teams of both Elementary and Sherlock seem to agree on: Quirky Sherlock = Quirky Music.

Though the Sherlockian moments were more than lacking this week, I had managed to find three potential spots for comparison.

1. Sherlock’s determination

2. The Lestrade equivalent versus Sherlock’s consultancy

3. Correlation to causation to criminal-behind-bars-ation

Numero uno. Sherlock – the man with more words in his mind than seconds in the day. Solution? Become an insomniac. “No sleep and no food will make Sherlock a dull boy.” This aspect of Elementary remained true to the literary image of Sherlock Holmes. He is the man with hardly enough time to change his clothes, let alone the time to take a power nap. When Sherlock Holmes needs solutions he will stop at nothing to get them. Evidently, he’ll even make up a fake story about caring for his imaginary boarding school bully to coax a victim into talking about his abductor. This is also apparent in Sherlock when he shows up at Adler’s door as a “beat up, mugged” priest. Sympathy is the quickest way into a psychopath’s heart after all.

Numero Dos. The Lestrade equivalent, dubbed the Lequivalent. Captain Gregson’s relationship with Sherlock is resonant of Lestrade in London; hence the nickname. One encounter in Elementary where the characters seemed reminiscent of those in Sherlock was when Gregson stated, “You’re a consultant, not a cop.” When Sherlock Holmes expects the police force to bow to him every whim, a Lequivalent usually needs to remind us all that Sherlock is ironically not a police officer. He might singlehandedly solve all the cases, but he is only a consultant. ReaLestrade (real Lestrade) and Gregson have both had their flashes of frustration where they have refused to give Sherlock that extra mile and that fraction bit more of a responsibility. And going by Sherlock’s erratic methods, who could possibly blame them? But as any Captain/Detective, ReaLestrade/Lequivalent would – they cave in, Sherlock gets his way and Holmes usually gets answers.

Last but undeniably not least: correlation to causation to criminal-behind-bars-ation. The Sherlock stunt that never ceases to amaze; the idiosyncrasy that Sherlock Holmes can never be without: making an accusation out of a fraction of an assumption. The art of deduction. From the touch of a phone, the glance at a lemon press and a short gander at their mail and hey presto, we have another woman and a key witness to the child’s abduction. The same sets of Sherlockian skills were used to unlock the final mystery of the episode; a two-minute look around a crime scene and the answers were clear as day to Mr. Holmes. The art of deduction to solve the mystery of abduction.

So there you have it, the similarities of the Sherlocks in their similar situations. Yet, the disappointment that the modern day New Yorker of Sherlock Holmes will be stuck in the same pattern as traditional television shows. Sherlock Holmes was created to break the mold that he was formed by; he was created to fill the roles of traditional literature and of literary legend. Sherlock Holmes was definitely not created to follow a pattern, so let’s hope the template of “locate-struggle-solve” is left for those who do it best and did it first.

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