Steven Moffat – Elementary has changed Sherlock Holmes too much

The co-creator of BBC1’s Sherlock suggests the Jonny Lee Miller series is too far removed from the original stories

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Sherlock co-creator Steven Moffat has had a dig at the show’s US counterpart Elementary, suggesting it has made too many changes to the original format.

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The new show, currently in production for American network CBS, brings Jonny Lee Miller’s detective to modern-day Manhattan, alongside Lucy Liu’s female Watson. And Moffat, who together with Mark Gatiss brought Sherlock Holmes up to date for the BBC, says it could be a step too far. 

“What we did with our Sherlock was just take it from Victorian times into modern day,” he said. “[Elementary has] got three big changes: it’s Sherlock Holmes in America, it’s Sherlock Holmes updated and it’s Sherlock Holmes with a female Watson. I wonder if he’s Sherlock Holmes in any sense other than he’s called Sherlock Holmes.”

Moffat even had some suggestions as to how CBS might have gone about the job better: “It’s almost like they should have made Watson a woman but kept the show in Victorian times… that would actually be quite interesting,” he told TheInsider.com.

Moffat will at least be relieved to discover that Elementary does not follow Sherlock too closely, since he and the show’s executive producer, his wife Sue Vertue, initially expressed concerns when the US series was announced.

Having turned down an offer from CBS to be involved in an American version of Sherlock, they had been worried that Elementary would be just that.

“It’s a slightly odd situation because [CBS] approached us to do an adaptation and we declined, then, coincidentally, they announced they were doing an updated version of Sherlock Holmes,” said Moffat. 

And although he says Elementary is different from Sherlock, he still has misgivings about the effect it might have on the Sherlock Holmes legacy: “I don’t want it to sound like Mark [Gatiss] and I don’t want other people to try this. We welcome it, but don’t damage the brand,” he said.

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Watch the trailer for Elementary to see what you think of the US show.