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What Show are you currently watching?

Discussion in 'Television' started by Use the Falchion, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Jedi Contrarian

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    IT IS TIME!

    After a lengthy delay, I finally watched the final episode of Miss Sherlock, and now I can do my three-way comparison of the modern Sherlock television adaptations!*

    upload_2022-4-30_18-57-32.jpeg upload_2022-4-30_18-57-51.jpeg upload_2022-4-30_18-58-16.jpeg
    (Interestingly enough, Sherlock is always on the left.)

    Now, the major question that people may ask is "which is the best," and that's frankly not a question I'm interested in answering at this time. I recommend that people watch a little of each and decide for themselves which one they prefer, but also try to see the strengths of the others as well. What I plan on doing is breaking down each show by its shared major characters, tone, and specific relationships. But each show is special in its own right, and I heartily recommend all three to fans of the world's greatest (non-superhero) detective. So, let's get started!


    The first thing to discuss is tone, since this will probably determine whether or not you watch the show. Each show is a little different in its purpose and vastly different in its tone.

    Elementary is a standard detective drama. Sherlock and the police are given a case, and they solve it within roughly 45 minutes. There may be some background drama stuff, there may not. It's pretty formulaic in terms of the genre, but it's a good one. However, there is a downside. This version of Sherlock isn't as smart as his peers, since the show's goal is to make the audience feel just as smart. Like a good detective show, most of the clues to find the murderer can be spotted early on, making rewatches pretty fun. But that also means we don't get to see Sherlock be as brilliant as we desire, because we need to figure out the cases alongside him. The tone of the show isn't too light, but it rarely gets super dark or gritty either. It's a nice constant, and stays that way for most of the show's run.

    BBC's Sherlock is the exact opposite - we don't really care about the who or the why, we want to know the how and see Sherlock solve it. We want to see Sherlock's brilliance, and it shows. This show isn't always a standard detective drama either, or at least not in the American sense. Yes, it's a detective drama, but it's also more, if that makes sense. The tone of this show is the same as Elementary, but a bit darker in terms of overall feeling at times. The humor is far more wry, and the darkness isn't the same type of darkness, but it's still pretty constant.

    Miss Sherlock is a weird mix. We can solve the who, but the how and why are totally Sherlock's area of expertise. Ergo, we feel smart when we figure it out, but we're never as smart as Sherlock. The tone of this show is WILD. Episodes can start or end in vastly different tones than how they begin or end. Tones can even change from scene to scene. We can start one episode with a baby crying as her mother stands over her with a bloody mouth and the very next scene will be Watson shopping for a date or something. One that really stuck out to me was towards the ending. Sherlock and Watson had just finished a case and were given some high quality chocolate candy as a thank you. Sherlock and her brother were bickering about what type of tea to have with the chocolate, and both pester Watson to go get some. She goes out, but while she's out she has a PTSD flashback to her time abroad and more or less collapses in tears in the street. It was VERY jarring.



    And now onto the main man and/or woman, Sherlock!

    upload_2022-4-30_19-16-16.jpeg

    Starting in release order, BBC's Sherlock set the bar for what Sherlock should be and how he should be portrayed, casting such a long shadow that every other iteration since has been compared to him - and they usually fail. Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Sherlock is now iconic. But what about the character himself?
    BBC Sherlock's Sherlock is a cold man. He's a great detective and has a solid community, but he is an island unto himself. He's easily one of the most brilliant people in the show, to the point that the show seems to be about his brilliance, as mentioned above. He's also a man-child at times. Sherlock is petty, petulant, and immature because he has no reason to be mature most of the time, still, it's usually not anything that people are too offended by, and Sherlock himself usually can figure out if he crossed a line or not. Sherlock describes himself as a high-functioning sociopath, but the more the show goes on, the less that seems to be the case. Still, when compared to other Sherlocks, his lack of morality shows. Sherlock basically even quotes this in the final episode of Season 2 in one of the character's best scenes.
    Sherlock's relationship with Watson is an interesting one. Like most modern adaptations, Watson is more of a morality pet early on, and is only revealed to be a friend under the most dire of circumstances. Watson doesn't really push Sherlock to be a "good man," the arc of the first two seasons more or less, but being around Watson does form Sherlock into one. Sherlock is also utterly absorbed when it comes to Watson, showing surprise about some of the things revealed about Watson in later seasons. But this friendship is one Sherlock would walk through the gates of hell for, and it shows.
    Sherlock's relationship with Mycroft interestingly mirrors Sherlock's relationship with John to a lesser degree. Mycroft loves Sherlock, keeping tabs on his younger brother out of both a sense of obligation and as a tether to the real world itself. (John works as a morality pet to both brothers, amusingly.) However, Mycroft isn't above deriding his brother's inferior intelligence.
    Sherlock's relationships with women are far more amusing but also far more wholesome. Sherlock adores and respects Mrs. Hudson, comes to find a kindred spirit in Mary, and usually treats Molly with some sort of respect. (Although Molly deserves a better man than Sherlock.)
    Moriarity will be discussed below.


    Next up is Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock.
    upload_2022-4-30_19-17-36.jpeg

    JLM's Sherlock is weird in the best of ways. The best way I can describe him in my head is grunge. He's a twitchy oddball of a man, tattooed and in possession of hypersensitive senses that help his detective work along with his intellect. He's a more physical Sherlock, moving to sniff some item or break some artifact for the case or even just twitching his hands. But he's also a broken Sherlock, and that brokenness adds a depth to him that BBC's Sherlock simply doesn't have. You see, unlike other Sherlock's, this version had his relationship with drugs be taken to its logical conclusion, forcing him into rehab before the show started, and having him come out of rehab a little while before the pilot. Sherlock at his most emotional times describes himself as an addict and opens up about the complications and struggles that puts him in contact with. (At his least emotional times and early on, Sherlock refuses to think of himself this way and believes he's above a need for rehabilitation or companionship.)
    This Sherlock possesses a strong sense of justice and morals, instead of choosing weird experiences like Miss Sherlock/Sara does or shooting the wall like BBC's Sherlock does, JLM's Sherlock would rather dig into cold cases and solve them to keep his mind busy. (He does do weird experiments in the morgue, but far fewer of them.) He's not just a detective because it's interesting, he's a detective because it's a proper use of his skills while also being interesting. His level of immaturity is also toned down compared to his counterparts. As with all three, it's mostly relegated to being with Watson but this time, he does show great levels of kindness and thoughtfulness to his Watson as well, even in the first episode.
    JLM's Sherlock also has a larger range of relationships that are mostly better than his counterpoints. Mrs. Hudson and Watson are constants, but JLM's Sherlock is also on great terms with his liaisons at in the NYPD, Detective Bell and Captain Gregson. Both men are important in Sherlock's life and are men he can call friends. JLM's Sherlock's relationship with Mycroft is far more bittersweet - Sherlock doesn't really respect Mycroft, and Mycroft has some very real grievances against Sherlock, but as always, the older brother loves his younger sibling.
    Lastly and most importantly is intelligence. Of the three Sherlocks, I'd posit that this one is the least intelligent. This is because - and as usually shown in television - there's an inverse relationship between intelligence and empathy or emotional connection. BBC's Sherlock is easily the most intelligent, but he always stands apart from humanity. Miss Sherlock is next on the list, while she can blend in, she's utterly uninterested in specific formalities and ways of life. JLM's Sherlock has clear empathy, shows remorse at times, and even great shame. He gets ecstatic, angry, and amused. This Sherlock is a human being, and one that is reachable at times, despite that prickly exterior.


    Lastly is Yuko Takeuchi's Sherlock from Miss Sherlock.

    upload_2022-4-30_19-33-15.jpeg

    Sara "Sherlock" Futaba, is easily the most interesting of the three to me. Of the three, she's also the most immature, which makes her hard to like at times. To summarize Sara, I'd say she's the distaff counterpart to BBC's Sherlock. Both of them have an impeccable sense of fashion when they desire, both of them are singularly brilliant to the point of annoyance, and both of them are really, REALLY immature. Sara takes the cake though, feeling downright abusive at times, but she does care for her friend and peers. Sara has no sense of personal space, which creates for some interesting situations. She's also probably the least moral of the three, gleefully talking about a serial killer's tragic motivation in front of them as she solves the case rather than...well, any other emotion.
    It's hard to describe her, since nearly everything that can be said about her went to BBC's Sherlock.
    Sara's relationship with her brother Kento Futaba - who of course isn't named Mycroft. That's not a Japanese name! - is far better than her male counterparts. Kento openly cares about his sister, and is even willing to help her out whenever she needs it. The two have a fun banter, and it's clear that the siblings are close.
    Sadly, we'll never see more of Yuko's Sherlock, as the actress tragically committed suicide in 2020.

    So, who is the best Sherlock? The winner is...me, because I'm going to cheat!

    The one who personifies Sherlock the best is of course BBC's Sherlock. He more or less paved the way for the other two and is clearly the one people will remember and enjoy seeing the most. However, if you like him, then you'll probably really like Yuko's Sherlock/Sara almost just as much. While this is about character portrayal, Cumberbatch's Sherlock is the bottom when it comes to emotional scenes. There are some very powerful scenes in Miss Sherlock and Elementary that Cumberbatch was never really given the chance to pull off.

    Yuko's Sherlock is probably the best detective pound for pound, however. She's far from the smartest, nor are her cases as impressive as BBC's or as voluminous as JLM's, but she never really gets outplayed; but when she does, she strikes back with a vengeance that her male counterparts really don't. She wins, and that's not something either of her counterparts always do.

    Lastly, JLM's Sherlock is the better man. Not only is he a gentleman, but he's also considerate of his friends' feelings and inspires them to be their best, just as they inspire him. This is a Sherlock you could be proud to call an acquaintance if you can deal with him, and a friend if you're lucky.


    Just as there's no Shepard without Vakarian, there's no Sherlock without Watson! We'll go in reverse this time.

    Shihori Kanjiya's Wato Tachibana, or Wato-san aka Watson is a tough woman.

    upload_2022-4-30_20-3-43.jpeg

    Unlike her peers, while Wato-san was never really a doctor, she did spend time volunteering in Yemen before working on cases with Sherlock. She's easily the Good Cop to Sherlock's Bad Cop, and a morality tether to Sherlock's immature flightiness. Wato-san always tries her hardest to empathize with the victims and understand the perpetrators. She also tries her best to be Sherlock's friend, despite Sherlock's constant denial of their friendship. She's a caring soul, and she even tries to solve a case or two! Unfortunately, this show goes out of its way to break Wato-san. She has it far rougher than I think any other Watson, and it's hard to see at times. But because of that, her we love and respect her. Wato-san is also the best acted of the three in my opinion.


    Unfortunately, Wato-san just can't hold a candle to Lucy Liu's Watson.
    upload_2022-4-30_20-7-18.jpeg

    Joan Watson, former surgeon, current sober companion, budding consulting detective (if Sherlock has anything to say). Joan starts at a very different place than where she ends, but her journey is glorious. While keeping some constants, such as being the emotional tether and morality pet to Sherlock, Joan starts and ends in a different place with Sherlock than her counterparts. Joan starts out as Sherlock's sober companion, hired by Sherlock's father after Sherlock's time in rehab. Right off the bat the dynamic is justified and explored - Joan is there to make Sherlock a better man because she's paid to help him, not because she wants to stick around. However, this changes as the show goes on. Lucy Liu's acting isn't quite up to part with her counterparts, and she dresses in some styles that would fit a younger woman (they don't look bad on her, but they don't perfectly fit her either), but her character's role and capability more than make up for it.
    (Also, Suit Watson > Blonde Watson any day of the week.)


    Lastly is Martin Freeman's Watson!

    upload_2022-4-30_20-13-18.jpeg

    Martin's Watson feels like the prime example of what a modern Watson should at least start as. He's a former military doctor who came back and weirdly found himself missing the action, so he's more or less all on board when he meets Sherlock and gets sucked into an adventure. He stays because he likes the danger, unlike Wato-san who stays to help Sherlock become a better woman or Joan who stays because she's a paid sober companion. But Watson's presence changes Sherlock and Mycroft for the better, and the two become the best of friends, and that's what each adaptation needs to make sure to include. Martin's Sherlock gets a lot of good heartfelt and emotional moments, and his acting is great, but I wish he did more as a partner on adventures.

    Ultimately, when it comes down to who is the best Watson, Joan wins handily. Not only does she push Sherlock to be his best, but he also changes her as well. The show goes out of its way to give Joan arcs and development both with and without Sherlock, making her a true partner to the consulting detective, not just the Watson.


    The section is far shorter - Best Sherlock-Watson relationship

    The clear winner here is again Elementary, as it does more with the two in terms of relationship growth and change over its run than the other two. Miss Sherlock and BBC's Sherlock more or less go from "I tolerate you" to "you're my one and only friend" with a LOT of homoerotic subtext underneath it all. (Which is both hilarious and annoying, since Watson is historically and openly straight in both shows, but an overwhelming majority of the fans ship the two regardless. Then again, shipping is anything but rational.) Elementary doesn't have the erotic subtext, but it starts out as an unwilling sober partner and client relationship, to a more willing one, to friends, and beyond after that. The two form a family unit with Gregson and Bell, and it's sweet to see. The biggest problem in the relationship is that Joan becomes an audience translator of Sherlock a lot of the time. Instead of letting the audience figure out what Sherlock is saying or implying, the script has Joan go "are you saying XYZ?" It happens roughly once an episode, and it can get really grating once you notice it. But beyond that, this relationship is superb.

    Lastly, since I'm really running out of steam here, is Moriarity. Now, I'm not going to talk about Moriarity in specifics, because there are MASSIVE MASSIVE spoilers involved in each one, so I'll keep this short and sweet and just post the winners.

    Best Moriarity - Miss Sherlock. Don't get me wrong, every Moriarity is evil and diabolical, but this one is malicious and cruel. I knew it going in, but the final two episodes really saw how cruel Moriarity was, and... yeah, he takes the cake.

    Best Moriarity Reveal - BBC Sherlock and Elementary tie. For BBC it started one way and then went a completely different way. Now that I've seen all three shows, I'm curious about how it would have been if it was completely different, but who knows. Elementary had a reveal that had my parents' jaws nearly on the floor, and had my mom stay awake for four straight episodes. (After a full day of stuff, she's usually game for an episode and a half, maybe even two, but four is impressive.)

    Best Acted Moriarity - BBC Sherlock. Every scene is just a delight.

    Smartest Moriarity - This is a tough one, since all of them are as smart or if not smarter than their Sherlock. Maybe a tie? BBC's Moriarity is clearly smarter than Sherlock, but only one of the Moriarity actually get Sherlock to admit defeat at some point, and only one really breaks Sherlock. Which one is up to y'all to figure out!



    And that's it! I know I could have done more such as best theme (Miss Sherlock or BBC), best cases (depends on the type of case), best ending (Elementary), or at least expanded on more, but I really want people to make up their own minds about these shows. My goal in sharing this was to offer a little more insight into each one over the things that might matter most to people, and maybe encourage a person to try one or two of them out if they hadn't. Hopefully it worked.

    (And lets all remember that there doesn't need to be a deriding of one show for another. Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch have been friends since long before either of them played the role of Sherlock, and both of them were on stage as Frankenstein and Frankenstein's Monster in 2011. If they can be friends, then we can be peaceful about preferring one over the other.



    *Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed I left off House. And they'd be right. I didn't feel like adding it, so there. But House is also a great Sherlock adaptation, closer in style to Elementary but in tone to BBC's Sherlock.
     
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  2. LadyMusashi

    LadyMusashi Archwizard Woo-Woo-in-Chief
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    I am watching several Asian (Chinese and Thai) shows that you wouldn't know anything about.

    I had to pick one Western drama to keep me warm until Obi-Wan arrives now that Moon Knight ended, so I watched the pilot for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and it was excellent, it has a real original series/Next Generation vibe. I haven't seen Discovery or Picard and had no problem following. If it remains episodic, I'll most likely continue to watch it.
     
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  3. Olivia Kenobi

    Olivia Kenobi Rebel General

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    exposing myself with this one but any Heartstopper fans out there...

    yes I enjoy cheesy netflix romcoms. is this a surprise to anyone?
     
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  4. Messi

    Messi G.O.A.T.

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    Over the last months the shows that I'm watching are for children. My 2 years old daughter make me watch the shows with her. Her favourites:

    - Star Wars Forces of Destiny
    - Paw Patrol
    - Simon
    - Trotro
    - Minnie Bowtique
    - Baby Shark cartoons, all of them...hahaha
    - Cocomelon
     
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  5. LadyMusashi

    LadyMusashi Archwizard Woo-Woo-in-Chief
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    I don't have much time for one hour shows unless they are weekly so I'm currently watching Obi-Wan and Strange New Worlds. But, I need something in between work, something short and sweet so I finally started watching The Bad Batch. So far, so good, I'm just three episodes in.
     
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  6. Angelman

    Angelman Servant of the Whills -- Slave to the Muses
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    The Responder

    It’s a socio-realistic crime drama starring Martin Freeman, about a copper struggling with mental health and a slew of bad decisions that keeps getting worse. And there’s no letting up, ever. This might be the bleakest thing I’ve ever watched, like a train wreck on fire that never stops going.

    Imagine something like… I don’t know… Pulp Fiction – (although this bears very little actual resemblance to PF) – but Pulp Fiction without any of the wacky humor, no fun nostalgia vibe or crazy anachronisms, no joy of any kind, just 6 hours of peoples’ lives being ruined… yeah, that’s what The Responder is.

    On the plus side, the show is marvelously acted, as you would expect from a Martin Freeman series, and it is a powerful if rather straight-forward story and it is quite good indeed. But we warned, you won’t have a good time watching it...

    Good luck.
    2377_the-responder-apple-16-9.png
     
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  7. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Jedi Contrarian

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    Castle, because Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells talked about it in their podcast and I had been eyeing it for a week or so before that point. I've known about the show for years, but I've never really watched it until this week. I'm enjoying it. It's lighter than Elementary, but it's still in that same "not so grizzly crime drama." It's flirting with being a Cozy Murder Mystery, but I'm not sure if it's there yet, since I don't have a lot of experience in that genre.
    (And yes, a Brandon Sanderson update post will happen soon. Maybe this week, maybe next week. I'm not sure.)

     
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