The Onion‘s AV Club has posted an insightful and nuanced take on Elementary and Sherlock in comparison to each other. Though I try not to compare the two series (because they really are different things with different aims), I find myself in agreement with a lot of it, frankly; I keep wondering how Sherlock‘s cast would fare with Elementary‘s material. And after someone suggested it on Twitter, I’d like to see Sherlock‘s Molly move to New York to work with Elementary‘s Holmes and Watson.
There’s one thing that this article misses, however.
Elementary, because of the rigid teaser and five acts structure, more closely mimics the format of the Doyle’s original stories — short, somewhat formulaic, stories. Yes, there are the four novels, but of the four the only one that holds a candle to the short stories, in my opinion, is The Hound of the Baskervilles (which, to this day, remains my favorite novel). Sherlock, by contrast, is a more formless beast. Moffat was quoted once as saying that Sherlock is what Doyle would write if he were writing today, but I think Elementary can lay a serious claim to being that.
To be fair to Sherlock, the format of Elementary — to say nothing of the mass of material that a weekly television series can produce — is an advantage that the BBC series will never be able to match. The article points out that it’s easier for Elementary to spread the character attention around because they have more space to do it. The format Moffat and Gatiss are working limit them to some extent in what they can do with the supporting cast, story arcs, and the wider world of their franchise.
It’s an interesting analysis of the two series. Like I said, I really do try not to compare the two series. I’m just glad that there are two series about Sherlock Holmes on television, and hopefully both are sending new readers in search of the Canon.
And it amuses me to no end that the two Sherlocks like to watch — and enjoy — and discuss — the other’s show.