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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Critique Quotes Text Sherlock Holmes at the movies

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes first editionFirst edition
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication

Literature form
Story collection

Crime, mystery

Writing language

Author's country

Twelve stories, approx. 94,000 words

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Holmes and Watson
Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Watson (Lucy Liu) investigate in modern New York in Elementary TV show.

New York Sherlock

Elementary (2012–2019): Television series, 154 episodes, 43–46 minutes each; directors Guy Ferland (22 episodes, Christine Moore (20), John Polson (19; writers Jason Casey (24 episodes) Robert Doherty (22 episodes), Bob Goodman (19); featuring Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu, Jon Michael Hill, Aidan Quinn, Rhys Ifans, Natalie Dormer

Updated renditions of Sherlock Holmes' adventures have a long history going back at least to Raymond Massey's then-modernized Holmes in 1931 and Basil Rathbone's crime and Nazi-fighting sleuth in the 1940s. But the twenty-first century has seen Holmes repeatedly being reimagined in different guises, including the Robert Downey Jr. movies of 2009 and 2011 set in Holmes's original era but with modern sensibilities of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, as well as the Benedict Cumberbatch digital-age series created for British television from 2010 to 2019.

Then there's the biggest revision of them all: Elementary, the American series that moves Holmes and Watson from Victorian London to present-day America. The English sleuth is now a recovering addict acting as a paid consultant with the New York police department.

The character of Watson is even more radically redrawn. For one thing Holmes's sidekick is a woman. She's a surgeon who left the medical profession after a disastrous operation and is hired to watch over Sherlock's rehabilitation. Eventually she becomes his apprentice, and then his partner, in detection.

It's to the great credit of this show that despite the growing bond between the attractive male and female leads that their relationship remains platonic. Yes, men and women can work together, even be friends, without falling into bed together.

Preview of the television series Elementary when it was launched in 2012.

The versatile and edgy Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting, Mansfield Park, Emma) commits himself to the character as much as he ever has in any of his film or television roles but this time spreading his character's development over years of episodic TV. And Lucy Liu (Charlie's Angels, Kill Bill) is more than solid as a similarly developing Watson, sometimes carrying the entire show when Holmes retreats from the spotlight.

Each week a new case is presented—sometimes with elements vaguely related to Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories, though often not. But creative story arcs also range over single or multiple seasons, often focusing on secondary characters such as police detectives Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Bell (Jon Michael Hill), Sherlock's father Morland Holmes (John Noble), brother Mycroft (Rhys Ifans), and villains Irene Adler (Natalie Dormer) and Moriarty (identity suppressed to prevent a spoiler).

Elementary lasted as a popular favourite for 154 episodes over seven years, giving Miller and Liu the honour of being the actors with the most appearances—by far—as Holmes and Watson. And the show still makes for compulsive viewing.

This adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes tales may not create figures as iconic as those of the Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett eras and may not have the iconoclastic impact of the Benedict Cumberbatch or Robert Downey Jr. showings. But they do provide a fresh take on the old stories that can continue to engage Sherlockians for years to come.

— Eric


Critique Quotes Text Sherlock Holmes at the movies

1922, 19291933, 19311937, 19391946, 19541955, 19591984, 19621992, 1965, 1970, 19751988, 1976, 1979, 1982, 19841994, 20002002, 2002, 2002b, 20092011, 20102017, 20122019, 2015