When executive producer Rob Doherty began putting together “Elementary,” he started seeing Sherlock Holmes all over the place.
“I see his fingerprints on almost every procedural show,” he said at press tour. “Not every one, but most shows have a Sherlock in them. They just happened to be called something else. You know, what we have is a name that means something and a franchise that means something and a mythology that people treasure and value.”
Jonny Lee Miller play Sherlock in “Elementary.” He happens to be an old friend of Benedict Cumberbach, who put his own stamp on Sherlock Holmes for a BBC series seen stateside on PBS’ “Masterpiece.” So they’ve worked on other projects together they’ve spoken about the role.
“I love the work that Benedict has done with ‘Sherlock,’” Miller says. “So I would call him up like a groupie after every episode came out and want to talk to him about it. And we had a discussion about this project as well. It was a private discussion. Benedict has been very, very supportive, and, you know, I wanted to reassure him about how different this script was and project was.”
For one thing, this Sherlock is in contemporary New York. “Something terrible happened to him in London,” says executive producer Rob Doherty. “He spiraled out of control. And I think what we have again, our Sherlock has emerged with what I think is at his core just a tiny kernel of self doubt where one previously never existed.
“I really do think, at the end of the day, he believes in justice,” Doherty says. “It’s not just about putting bad guys behind bars. Helping people and doing the right thing are factors that play into it as well.”
“For me,” says Miller, “there’s two major different things that make Sherlock Sherlock. One is within the books, obviously, he’s a genius and his attention to detail, his ravenous hunger for all aspects of knowledge that might feed into his work. But the major thing that makes him Sherlock is his relationship with Watson, and that the book is being written from Watson’s perspective — feeds that massively, and it’s about it’s about two people. It’s about a relationship between two people and their friendship. For me, that’s the, I guess, biggest side, you know, so the more interesting side than the genius for me.”
And the Watson in this “Elementary” is very different than usual as it is played by Lucy Liu.
“He could have made Watson a man,” Liu says of Doherty. “That was, kind of a given, and the only reason he didn’t is because, in the stories themselves, you’ll see that Sherlock Holmes has a bit of an awkward relationship with the other gender. And so bringing that into play, it’s a constant reminder of that awkwardness and that division between being a friend — but it’s a woman.”
Liu admits that her Watson “is sort of on the sideline right now, observing him, because she’s his sober companion. So she’s not engaged in the mystery. She’s engaged in him, and from that point on, then you get to see how that sort of blossoms out.”
“Elementary” runs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on CBS.