Sherlock and Elementary have a great deal of things in common. This is to be expected, as they both follow a pretty standard pitch to take Sherlock Holmes and place him and the other characters within his short stories and novels into a modern context. But the similarities are greater than that, due to the origins of Elementary which resulted in legal threats being issued by some of the Sherlock production staff. To explain, CBS approached the producers of Sherlock with the intent of remaking that show for an American audience. This didn't go ahead, but then CBS separately created Elementary. In the words of Sherlock executive producer Sue Vertue on Twitter:
'Mmm interesting CBS, I'm surprised no one has thought of making a modern day version of Sherlock before, oh hang on, we have!'
For those that have managed to miss the obvious, Sherlock is the BBC-created modern version of the Sherlock Holmes story. It is set in London, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes while Martin Freeman plays Dr. John Watson. In the American created Elementary on CBS, Sherlock is played by Jonny Lee Miller while Lucy Liu plays Dr. Joan Watson. Naturally, gender-switching John to Joan caused a fair volume of controversy when it was first announced. Especially when it was revealed to be Lucy Liu, who was portrayed in the media as nothing more than her characters from Ally McBeal or the Charlie's Angels films. In fact, the CBS take on Sherlock may not be as intrinsically linked to the BBC's Sherlock after all. You see, in 1987 the channel produced a TV film called The Return of Sherlock Holmes. The notable point is this it was set in modern day America and had a gender-swapped Watson called Jane. Sound familiar? Then in 1994 they did a similar plot again, once more with a female Watson although her name was completely different. In short, Elementary is the third CBS take on Sherlock Holmes to be set in modern America, each time with a female Watson. I'm going to stick my hand up. I expected to not only dislike Elementary but properly hate it. The fact that they had Lucy Liu as Joan Watson just seemed stupid and I hated the idea that they had moved the location to New York instead of London. But the series won me over, by making several changes and twists which I feel now makes Elementary the superior show to Sherlock. Some of these are subtle, others are quite obvious and of course they have to contend with doing many more episodes of a show than the BBC normally do. I'll warn you now; this article is going to be rife with spoilers. If you haven't seen Elementary then some of these points are going to ruin some major twists and plots. Now you've been warned, let us have the first point... because the game is afoot!