#Television in Translation: Drama Focus

Baker Street, New York

Sherlock Holmes: Robert Downy Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, Johnny Lee Miller. The works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have been adapted, recycled and constantly adored over the years, however the new US hit show Elementary takes a huge step in the direction of the modern, bringing with it many new aspects to the classic Sherlock character. While still marvellously intelligent, Sherlock lives in the US as a recovering addict under the care of Dr. Watson, female, and a live in support worker for recovering addicts. Similarly, the modernized British interpretation of the novels, Sherlock, has Sherlock and Watson as consulting detectives to Metropolitan Police Service in modern day London. Both adaptations are based on key features of the original text however they have been altered in their detail to accommodate for their specific audiences.

The US version has a strong drug theme; Miller’s character lives largely off a trust fund; the NYPD is well-respected and does not carry the same foolish stigma that the police in the original text maintain. These are a reflection of the target audience and cultural context. The show adopts specific themes which may vary from the original not only to achieve a unique interpretation, but also in order to connect target audiences. In contrast, the British version maintains strong ties to the novels, in respect to audiences who appreciate the continuity of a much loved national character.

As I examined in last week’s blog post, like comedy, drama in translation requires similar attention to detail in its execution.


Aldrich, R 2014, ‘A tale of two Sherlocks: Comparing Sherlock and Elementary’, Drunk Monkeys, 17 April, viewed 17 September
< http://www.drunkmonkeys.onimpression.com/a-tale-of-two-sherlocks-comparing-sherlock-and-elementary/>.

Asher-Perrin, E 2014, ‘Battling Super Sleuths: The Awkward Case of Elementary, Sherlock and Building the Better Adaption’, Tor.com, viewed 17 September.