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Elementary

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Okay, this is too weird.

Jonny Lee Miller recently co-starred with Benedict Cumberbatch in a stage version of Frankenstein directed by Danny Boyle. The two actors took turns in both of the lead roles. When I talked with Ralph Winter a few months ago, he couldn't stop raving about how great it was.

Well, Cumberbatch is now famous, as you probably know, playing Sherlock Holmes in the present-day reimagining of the Holmes stories for BBC.

And now... this!

CBS’s Sherlock Holmes reboot Elementary has solved its first big mystery — who will play the famous detective. Former Eli Stone star Jonny Lee Miller has been tapped as the lead of the project, a modern take on the cases of Sherlock Holmes who now lives in New York City. Robert Doherty wrote the script and is executive producing the CSB TV Studios pilot with Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly. Michael Cuesta is on board to direct.

(I know we'd discussed the developing series before, but now that there's a star, I figure it's time for a thread.)

Edited by Overstreet

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I've never seen Miller in anything. He's not as distinctive-looking as Cumberbatch, but once he's in motion I can imagine him doing very well--particularly if they decide to take Holmes in a more outgoing, less "high functioning sociopath," direction.

We'll see, though. Right now, Miller just looks blandly good-looking, and that's a direction you definitely do not want to go with Holmes.

Edited by NBooth

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I've never seen Miller in anything.

You've never seen Trainspotting? Or Mansfield Park? Or the miniseries version of Emma? He's good. I wouldn't have thought of him to play Holmes, so this will be interesting.

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I've never seen Miller in anything.

You've never seen Trainspotting? Or Mansfield Park? Or the miniseries version of Emma?

Alas, no. I'll have to check around on Netflix, I guess.

Edited by NBooth

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The first time I head this story, I pictured this Johnny Miller.

308003.jpg

He's an Olympic snowboarder from California. Not very Holmesian, in my book.

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I've never seen Miller in anything.

You've never seen Trainspotting? Or Mansfield Park? Or the miniseries version of Emma?

Alas, no. I'll have to check around on Netflix, I guess.

He also played an American lawyer on a mission from God (or was it?) in the TV series Eli Stone, so if this Holmes is set in New York, he can handle an American accent. He's a good actor, but not my idea of Holmes.

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As for a female Watson, it's sort of been done before on screen, when Joanne Woodward plays psychiatrist Dr. Watson to George C. Scott's judge who believes himself to be Holmes in They Might Be Giants. It was filmed on location in NYC, too. I love that movie.

This Elementary thing, however, doesn't seem to have Scott's excuse of being deluded. I commented to a friend on Facebook that they should just abandon the "Sherlock Holmes" pretensions and call it "astoundingly perceptive dectective and his loyal sidekick"--yes, Holmes & Watson gave us the template for just about every detective story since, including House (it's a pun on "Holmes," ha!).

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As for a female Watson, it's sort of been done before on screen, when Joanne Woodward plays psychiatrist Dr. Watson to George C. Scott's judge who believes himself to be Holmes in They Might Be Giants. It was filmed on location in NYC, too. I love that movie.

This Elementary thing, however, doesn't seem to have Scott's excuse of being deluded. I commented to a friend on Facebook that they should just abandon the "Sherlock Holmes" pretensions and call it "astoundingly perceptive dectective and his loyal sidekick"--yes, Holmes & Watson gave us the template for just about every detective story since, including House (it's a pun on "Holmes," ha!).

I can imagine the writer's room at CBS trying desperately to come up with a way to make Elementary different enough from Sherlock that the BBC doesn't sue them. "We'll set it in New York! Different enough? No? Um...Watson's a woman! Or a robot! A woman robot! And let's set it in 2066! And Holmes solves crimes using a computer! It's different because it's not a Blackberry!"

That said--I'm not opposed to having a woman play Watson per se (although it won't make the slash fans migrating over from Sherlock happy). As long as the character is in the ballpark, personality-wise, of what's in the stories--and as long as they don't try a will-they-or-won't-they--it might just work.

Edited by NBooth

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I think the BBC would have a hard time winning a lawsuit over "Sherlock Holmes Set in Modern Day"... they were hardly the first to do it (and we have seen Sherlock Holmes in the Future before as well). For there to be a worry about a law suit, they would have to be using visuals elements unique to Sherlock (such as the on screen text).

But "Sherlock Holms In the Modern Day" using modern technology? Not unique enough to mount a successful lawsuit.

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I think the BBC would have a hard time winning a lawsuit over "Sherlock Holmes Set in Modern Day"... they were hardly the first to do it (and we have seen Sherlock Holmes in the Future before as well). For there to be a worry about a law suit, they would have to be using visuals elements unique to Sherlock (such as the on screen text).

But "Sherlock Holms In the Modern Day" using modern technology? Not unique enough to mount a successful lawsuit.

True. But the BBC has said that they're going to be scrutinizing the new series very closely, and if they see something actionable they'll be on it quicker than CBS can say "The game's afoot." So it's in CBS' best interest to make their "modern day Sherlock Holmes" as different as possible from the other "modern day Sherlock Holmes."

EDIT: Hrm. In other news, looking at the Deadline story again:

Just out of rehab, Holmes now lives in Brooklyn with “sober companion” Joan Watson (Liu), a former surgeon who lost her license after a patient died, while consulting for the NYPD.

I'm assuming Holmes is living with Watson while he's consulting. Not that Watson's patient died while she was consulting or while the patient was consulting. But hey, I could be wrong; that sentence has at least three--possibly more--alternate meanings. In any case, isn't this just another version of The Mentalist setup, except with Lisbon being a live-in doctor instead of a police contact?

Edited by NBooth

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Set Photos Edited by NBooth

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CinemaBlend has a preview.

Pretty sure I saw the hidden-saferoom trick in the first episode of The Mentalist. On the plus side, it doesn't look like a carbon-copy of Sherlock. Miller acts too much like Matt Smith for that to be the case.

EDIT: Embedding:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrDVSxNycKc

Watching it again, Miller's performance just screams DOCTOR WHO. It does look sufficiently different from both Downey and Cumberbatch to suggest the possibility of carving out its own niche, but I'm not sure I can watch it without expecting Holmes to whip out a sonic screwdriver at some point.

Edited by NBooth

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I guess this means Liu's story arc in Southland is over. Bummer. That was a decent show, and I liked her part in it.

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This is a dumb idea.

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Lyndsay Faye pens an open letter to the creators of Elementary:

One makes the assumption that the bond between Sherlock and Joan will begin feisty and steadily grow, which sounds like a fantastic X-Files remake, and I’m glad you’re making it. Truly. And our gross irascibility (for which I am personally sorry) might be erased by our spellbound awe at the sheer purity of beauty that Elementary offers as a series, such that we come to you upon our knees, begging to wash your feet with our hair. That might happen, CBS.

[snip]

But don’t hand us a plate consisting of daikon, ox knuckle, and peanut butter and brightly tell us it’s potato salad, CBS. Because we may not be purists, but no one on earth loves their chosen dish better. Fair warning.

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Apparently...Moffat feels the need to weigh inand declare Elementary a failure of sorts. And the real problem he sees? It is really different than his show!

“What we did with our Sherlock was just take it from Victorian times into modern day. [Elementary] has got three big changes: it’s Sherlock Holmes in America, it’s Sherlock Holmes updated and it’s Sherlock Holmes with a female Watson. I wonder if he’s Sherlock Holmes in any sense other than he’s called Sherlock Holmes.”
Edited by Nezpop

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Benedict Cumberbatch:

Cumberbatch – who is friends with Miller and even appeared opposite him in the UK stage production of Frankenstein – believes the world is big enough for multiple interpretations of Sherlock. (And, having seen the jolly good pilot, I’m inclined to agree.) “I wish them luck, I really do,” the actor insists. “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.

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Lisa de Moraes does her thing:

Pouring lighter fluid on their hot-and-bothered-ness, Steven Moffat, the executive producer of PBS’s Holmes drama — the Benedict Cumberbatch edition, not the Jeremy Brett edition — took to IGN to say CBS had approached him about having his team do a Sherlock Holmes series and “we said no, we weren’t ready to do that yet, but keep in touch . . . and then a few weeks later we discovered they were just going ahead and doing it anyway.”

Yes, CBS dared to order a Sherlock Holmes drama without Moffat — though, it had the cooperation of the estate of Sir Conan Doyle, who, you know, wrote the books.

Moffat said it was just “another example of what happens in L.A. television,” and, in case critics weren’t too clear, added he “wasn’t very impressed by it.” Moffat said he worried that if “Elementary” is bad it will “debase” Sherlock Holmes — as if he’s the gatekeeper or something, instead of the Doyle estate. Plus, if it’s too similar to his version — in which Holmes lives in the present day and uses modern technologies to solve crimes — “We’ll have to take action.”

This may explain why, before the “Elementary” Q&A session got underway, exec producer Robert Doherty took the stage to announce they “officially have a plan” for introducing Doyle’s Moriarty character and Sherlock Holmes’s father to the show. And, of course, CBS’s Holmes is a recovering addict and Watson is his “sober partner” and is played by a woman: Lucy Liu.

One critic was disappointed to learn the writers don’t intend to delve into Liu’s ethnic heritage in the show, complaining it isn’t really exercising ethnic diversity. Doherty explained the show is not about “teaching cultural differences to the audience.” Karl Beverly, the other executive producer, jumped in to suggest, “You maximize diversity by not speaking to it. Putting Lucy into the show and not speaking to it is the way we live our lives in society. We don’t need to shine a light on it.”

And, of course, their Sherlock Holmes operates in New York City, and something terrible has happened to him while he was in London, causing him to spiral out of control and “hit a serious wall” — hence, his sober partner, Watson.

The rest of the column deals with CBS' upcoming show, "Partners," and is pretty funny.

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Just watched the pilot.

The Good: Lucy Liu, the references to the Conanical stories (red hair="A Study in Scarlet," "The Norwood Builder," "The Six Napoleons," and a sideways glance at "A Scandal in Bohemia,")--the mystery itself was no great shakes, but solid enough.

The iffy: The character introductions seemed too abrupt, but that's par for the format; Miller is a bit too wounded-puppy for my taste, but I could see warming up to him.

In all--enjoyable; not appointment television, but perhaps Amazon Unbox-worthy.

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Might there be a place out there in which you would expand on your thoughts here?

But yes, Lucy Liu is great. Did you catch her Southland episodes?

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[a] There is, and I will be, very soon.

I've not seen Southland. In fact, I think I've only seen Liu in Kill Bill.

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