Is Elementary Better Than Sherlock?

Noah Berlatsky recently posted an essay at Splice Today called “Elementary is Better than Sherlock”. He argues that the CBS series is better than the BBC series. In the end, he makes the bold assertion that “it is in fact the best Sherlock show.”

Being something of a nitpicker myself, I find some of his claims a bit specious, and his focus seems to center on proving why BBC Sherlock is worse than Elementary, rather than why the latter is better than the former. He echoes some of the complaints heard elsewhere about the fourth season (and especially the final episode) of Sherlock.

Still, the head-to-head comparison of Sherlock Holmes as written for CBS and portrayed by Johnny Lee Miller and Sherlock Holmes as written for the BBC and portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch is interesting to chew on. Their respective Watsons come under examination, too. Berlatsky favors the way Liu’s “Watson not infrequently catches details in a case that Sherlock misses” over the way “Freeman’s John Watson really is as far beneath Sherlock mentally as Sherlock says he is.”

I know we have BBC and CBS fans among our members. Elise Eliot (JHWS “Lucy”) contributed a thoughtful essay on “Why Joan Watson is Exceptional” to the Fall 2016 issue of The Watsonian. In the Spring 2015 issue, Michael J Quigley (JHWS “Roy”) and Christopher Zordan (JHWS “Flash”) compiled a list of eight key Watsonian traits. They measured several Watson portrayals against this rubric: Freeman’s John matched 8/8, and Liu’s Joan made a good showing with 6/8. (One of the two missing traits is patriotism as evidenced by military service. Joan as a former Army doctor would have been really cool. I wish the folks behind Elementary had made that a part of her story.)

Personally, I’m a fan of both shows. If you love one or both of the shows, I’d love to hear why in the comments.

[This should go without saying, but, well, it is the Internet, so…. We at the Watson Society firmly believe that we can have different opinions and discuss them without attacking one another. Be excellent to each other.]

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