I Sherlock. Enough torture, I thought. Enough agony.


I stopped watching Elementary
when Sherlock could not save Irene from her death. I stopped once more when
Sherlock relapsed in season 3, and yet again when Moriarty won, making Sherlock
a prop in her plan. She knew him too well, and was too consummate in using his
traumatic past against him. These moments were antithetical to the unwritten
law of modern adaptations that the stoical Sherlock Holmes can never be
defeated, 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 back
soon enough – a peek here, a binge there, and just like Sherlock at the
denouement 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 self
would have retched at the very thought of: Elementary
is better than Sherlock.

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I must confess I was initially sceptical when I learned that there
was an American adaptation of Sherlock Holmes with a female Dr Watson. After
all, 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 me
until the true Sherlock came out of hibernation. From an unremarkable start,
the show meandered through a series of perfunctory episodes. The performances
were undoubtedly convincing, but the
stories felt disjointed. I found their quality overshadowed by the persistent
doubt that Joan and Sherlock would be involved in some horrific love affair and
completely shatter the platonic love portrayed by Arthur Conan Doyle in his
original stories.

Undeniably, both Sherlocks simply exude erudition with
their effortlessly florid dialogue. But Benedict Cumberbatch’s quick-fire
repartee has often left me grappling the TV remote in a frantic attempt to turn
on the subtitles. With its exceptionally fine cast, including Martin Freeman as
John Watson and Mark Gatiss as Mycroft, Sherlock
allowed its audience a pleasant liaison with a contemporary rendition of the
world’s greatest detective. I adored the first season but by the second, it was
already dissolving in a sugary tea of expensive sets, its Byzantine plots
making no narrative sense. By erasing the one key humanising aspect of
Sherlock’s personality, his addiction to narcotics, the show retains very
little dramatic tension because the audience is never open to the possibility
that he might be in danger. Although flashing successive morbid, albeit
melodramatic, revelations was, at first, entertaining and appealed immensely to
viewers who are fascinated by plot-twists (guilty as charged), Sherlock has now veered into the
territory of glorified striptease. It has essentially become an exercise in
adulation existing only to showcase the brilliance of Benedict Cumberbatch, its
viewers his devotees. The episodes feel more like spasms of random
bloodlettings, all but obliterating the nominal climax towards which they are
expected to lead. 

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