Half a decade ago, there was much hullaballoo when US network CBS announced that it was going to broadcast its own version of Sherlock Holmes, starring British actor Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. How dare they? screamed many Holmes die-hards, especially as the announcement was coming (very) soon after the successful Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss reboot for the BBC. While the BBC version became a global success and a bit of an enigma, catapulting Benedict Cumberbatch to superstardom, the US version also proved its worth. If the BBC’s Sherlock is all bangs and whistles and narrative pyrotechnics, the US version – Elementary – resembles a long-running and often deeply satisfying police procedural. And now it has been renewed for a sixth series.
So, we come to the end of a season in which the most dramatic plot-lines have been devoted not to Holmes, but to his detective protégés Joan Watson and Kitty Winter. In Controlled Descent, the spotlight is back on Sherlock; but will this mark his Reichenbach Falls moment, or some more metaphorical fall?
Someone on the Elementary writing team sure likes bees. From a single mention in the Conan Doyle canon of the retired Holmes taking up bee-keeping, Elementary’s Sherlock has developed an obsession with the pollinating pests that borders on the obsessive. So, we’re long overdue for this apicultural episode, in which colony collapse turns to murder.
The circle of people Sherlock Holmes might call friends is a small one, but he does seem willing to extend it to family members. In some cases, such as Joan Watson’s mother, it works out well; in others – well, let’s just say that the example of Sherlock’s own family ought to have taught him that you can’t always rely on a familial connection.
While Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes had sworn off the fairer sex – leading to all sorts of literary speculation about his proclivities – Elementary’s Sherlock has a rather too-much-information tendency to trumpet his bedroom athletics. So when he gets out the ‘sex blanket’ – yewww! – and books Watson three days in a luxury hotel, she’s probably well advised to make herself scarce.