I stopped watching Elementarywhen Sherlock could not save Irene from her death. I stopped once more whenSherlock relapsed in season 3, and yet again when Moriarty won, making Sherlocka prop in her plan. She knew him too well, and was too consummate in using histraumatic past against him. These moments were antithetical to the unwrittenlaw of modern adaptations that the stoical Sherlock Holmes can never bedefeated, a law so vehemently advocated by Sherlock.Enough torture, I thought.
Enough agony. I could betray Sherlock no more.But the righteous high was, alas, ephemeral. I was sneaking backsoon enough – a peek here, a binge there, and just like Sherlock at thedenouement of season three, I knew I, too, had relapsed. In my newfound ecstasy,an outrageous revelation presented itself to me, a notion which my former selfwould have retched at the very thought of: Elementaryis better than Sherlock.I must confess I was initially sceptical when I learned that therewas an American adaptation of Sherlock Holmes with a female Dr Watson.
Afterall, were we just supposed to accept that the John Watson we all know and love– sarcastic with an unusually erratic sense of humour – had been gender swapped?Elementary was merely an ersatz Sherlock, a trite rip-off to occupy meuntil the true Sherlock came out of hibernation. From an unremarkable start,the show meandered through a series of perfunctory episodes. The performanceswere undoubtedly convincing, but thestories felt disjointed. I found their quality overshadowed by the persistentdoubt that Joan and Sherlock would be involved in some horrific love affair andcompletely shatter the platonic love portrayed by Arthur Conan Doyle in hisoriginal stories.Undeniably, both Sherlocks simply exude erudition withtheir effortlessly florid dialogue.
But Benedict Cumberbatch’s quick-firerepartee has often left me grappling the TV remote in a frantic attempt to turnon the subtitles. With its exceptionally fine cast, including Martin Freeman asJohn Watson and Mark Gatiss as Mycroft, Sherlockallowed its audience a pleasant liaison with a contemporary rendition of theworld’s greatest detective. I adored the first season but by the second, it wasalready dissolving in a sugary tea of expensive sets, its Byzantine plotsmaking no narrative sense. By erasing the one key humanising aspect ofSherlock’s personality, his addiction to narcotics, the show retains verylittle dramatic tension because the audience is never open to the possibilitythat he might be in danger. Although flashing successive morbid, albeitmelodramatic, revelations was, at first, entertaining and appealed immensely toviewers who are fascinated by plot-twists (guilty as charged), Sherlock has now veered into theterritory of glorified striptease. It has essentially become an exercise inadulation existing only to showcase the brilliance of Benedict Cumberbatch, itsviewers his devotees. The episodes feel more like spasms of randombloodlettings, all but obliterating the nominal climax towards which they areexpected to lead.