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CBS Attempts To Cash In On Sherlock Craze, Casts Jonny Lee Miller In 'Elementary' Pilot

Television
by Joe Cunningham
February 15, 2012 10:17 AM
6 Comments
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Jonny Lee Miller Elementary

When CBS announced their plans for a new show based on Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, Steven Moffat -- the creator/writer of the BBC's excellent "Sherlock" -- tweeted: "Dear CBS. A modern day Sherlock Holmes? Where, oh where, did you get THAT idea? We'll be watching!" The CBS version, which will go by the absolutely terrible title "Elementary," will relocate Holmes to modern-day New York City for the pilot, which will be directed by Michael Cuesta ("Homeland").

The star of the BBC's version, Benedict Cumberbatch, recently took to the stage in London to star in Danny Boyle's "Frankenstein" in which he and Jonny Lee Miller alternated the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature to much critical acclaim. And perhaps the pair got talking about "Sherlock" and their thoughts on the mooted CBS version during rehearsals, because Jonny Lee Miller has just signed on to play the Holmes in "Elementary." Rumors that the pair will swap roles between each version on an episode by episode basis are sadly unfounded, and were in fact just made up by this writer.

Jonny Lee Miller is probably still best known to audiences for his role as Sick Boy in Boyle's "Trainspotting," or for his role in "Hackers" and subsequent marriage to Angelina Jolie, but most recently he had an eight-episode arc on "Dexter," and we'll also be seeing him soon in Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" and Neil Jordan's "Byzantium." In fact, it seems his career outlook is pretty strong at the moment after a long while in the wilderness.

We have to say, we're very much with Steven Moffat on this one. "Elementary" sounds like a cheap knock-off of one of the best shows on television (anywhere in the world) at the moment, and the BBC would probably be due a hefty chunk of change from CBS if Holmes wasn't a property for which copyright has long since expired. The casting of Jonny Lee Miller is interesting though as it suggests this Sherlock could still be British despite the New York location, and we wish him the very best of luck in his attempts to deliver a performance anywhere near as sublime Cumberbatch's. No news who CBS's Dr. Watson will be, but again they'll have a hard task finding anyone as good as Martin Freeman.

The company behind the U.K. version, Hartswood Films, are reportedly planning to sue CBS over their new adaptation according to The Telegraph. Producer Sue Vertue told the British newspaper: "We understand that CBS are doing their own version of an updated Sherlock Holmes. It's interesting, as they approached us a while back about remaking our show. At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernised Sherlock Holmes doesn't resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying."

So it may sound bitter (and this is nothing against Miller himself), but here's hoping that "Elementary" doesn't get picked up and that U.S. audiences instead tune in to PBS in May when the second season of "Sherlock" airs -- beginning with the finest 90 minutes of television you'll see this year -- "A Scandal In Belgravia". Did we mention yet that it's really rather good? [Deadline]

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6 Comments

  • Maxine | February 16, 2012 6:42 AMReply

    The first episode in both seasons are excellent because they are penned by Moffat himself. Agreed that "A Scandal In Belgravia" is indeed the finest 90 minutes of television you'll see this year.

  • Carla | February 15, 2012 3:05 PMReply

    Joe, your article parallels my thoughts exactly.

  • Carrie | February 15, 2012 3:02 PMReply

    Bravo and perfectly said!

  • rodie | February 15, 2012 12:43 PMReply

    Maybe David Shore (the creator of House) should have tweeted Moffat and said, "And where'd you get YOUR idea?"

  • Joe Cunningham | February 15, 2012 10:34 AMReply

    I'd argue that both seasons follow the same pattern. First episode: excellent, second episode: average, third episode: very good. But hey, that's just me.

  • James | February 15, 2012 10:32 AMReply

    'A Scandal In Belgravia' was excellent. Brilliant stuff, endlessly inventive, crisp dialogue, humour, pathos and depth. A rare combination.

    The next two episodes were distinctly average. Not even by comparison. Just average.

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