CBS' "Elementary" idea – Been there, done that


Before we leave our well-deserved bowing before the brilliance that is the BBC’s Sherlock, you may remember back in the fall reading here about an absolutely ridiculous notion that the CBS Television Network had thoughts of creating a 21st century version of Sherlock Holmes. I think, at the time, my only comment was “…how original”. Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed.

There was a single glimmer of hope at that time that it was only a rumor that a pilot script was being commissioned. My hope, and most of your hopes judging by your comments, was that this would just be filed in the circular file marked “86” as soon as possible. Unfortunately, not the case. Word on the street is that the “pilot script” now has a name….Elementary. Wow, again, how original. With CBS beginning to cast next week, they must have not only about forgotten Disney’s ill-conceived thought of Jennifer Garner starring as a 21st century Miss Marple but also how long the NBC adaptation of Prime Suspect lasted this past fall. Now, according to reports in the Mirror, they have, understandably, angered the mighty BBC with their intentions. Can’t wait to see what happens when some unnamed American broadcast network decides that it would be a great idea to do a series based on the lives of an “upstairs” family and the interaction with their “downstairs” staff.

The war of words has begun with the BBC immediately responding about CBS’ plans by saying:  “This looks like a blatant attempt to copy and cash in. We want Sherlock to rate big in the States and this could take the shine off it.” To which the response was: “The success of Sherlock in the UK has been major factor of bringing Elementary to life. We believe this modern twist will appeal to viewers. We want fresh American faces in the role.” Really….

To be honest, I don’t see what the uproar is all about. The American version won’t be around long enough for anyone to be able to compare it to the genius of the BBC/PBS version. Gentle reminder #1 that the second series of the definitive 21st century Sherlock will premiere in the U.S. on Sunday, May 6 as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series.