Available Balance
Over Lap; Boarding on Copy Cat
January 12, 2017
Sherlock vs Elementary; The Difference between British and American Television

In a previous article on Vintage Television programmes I mentioned what I politely called an ‘Overlap’ to refrain from the active use of a term which would indicate that one writer/producer had access to a particular programme aired on the ‘other’ station and somewhat used the information therein to create an episode for This programme on This Station.

One of the current set of television programmes today, which I have previously mentioned, concerned the usage of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes character.

There have been many motion pictures and previous television series or specials concerning this detective and his methods.

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The ability to deduce practised by the original Sherlock Holmes has captivated readers, and now visual audiences, because it was not impossible for the average person to see what he saw.

For example, seeing a jacket buttoned wrong or ink on fingers, made him appreciate that the person in front of him had hurried to his residence and had written a message before leaving.

Today, with all the advances in science and technology there are many ways, beyond the senses of the average person, which are used in deducing the perpetrator of a crime.

In England, Sherlock aired for the first time in 2010.   In America, Elementary, in September 2012.

Both series are about Sherlock Holmes.

In Sherlock attempt is made to stay close to the original despite casting it into modern day London.  John Watson, then as now, is a veteran of the Afghan War.  Sherlock lives in 221 B Baker Street.  His arch enemy is Moriarty, the woman who broke his heart is Irene Adler.

In Elementary, which is shot in New York City, there has been a sharp break from the past.  Watson is a Jane, a woman, who came into his life as a ‘sober companion.   As the male Watson she is was a medical doctor.   In Elementary, the arch enemy, Moriarty, is a woman, in fact, the same person as Irene Adler.

With the difference in local, in characters, one does not expect the kind of overlap or repetition one would in shows aired in the same place at the same time.


Watching Elementary, Season Two, at the same time of the most recent release of Sherlock in Season 4, the parallels are painful.

Sherlock ended it’s Third Season with the death of John Watson’s wife, Mary, who stepped in front of a bullet meant for him.   The discord between Sherlock and Watson is the core of the season, and the behaviour of Sherlock is far more insane than in previous seasons.

Elementary ended it’s 1st Season with the shooting of Detective Bell, who stepped in and received a bullet meant for Sherlock.  He did not die but may have lost the use of his right arm.  The discord between Bell and Sherlock is the core, and this Sherlock is a bit more obnoxious than in previous episodes.

The Third Season of Sherlock ended with one anxious to catch next episode, which was a ‘cheat’ as the season began with Episode 0, a rehash, then the rather unpleasant Episode 1.

The First Season of Elementary ended with the shooting of Bell. The resistance to this portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, which had dogged the first few episodes, (for how could one compete with Benedict Cumberbatch’s spot on portrayal? ) had somewhat evaporated and one looked for the next season with expectation.

Both episodes in the ‘new season’  (the 2nd for Elementary and the 4th for Sherlock) were let downs.  The plots were too much alike in an annoying manner to pass without comment, and the characterisation of both actors was not on par with what was expected.

There is no reason why the writers need to copy each other, nor is there a limitation to the plots available.

Hopefully, the two series will keep themselves from crossing line.

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