I have wanted to write this post for years and for some reason I never quite got around to it, but today is the day Elementary and Sherlock battle to find out which Holmes reigns supreme. To be perfectly honest as I am writing this I have no idea which show will come out on top as I greatly enjoy both and I honestly couldn’t just pick one right now. So to help me make my decision I will be breaking this battle into categories picking a winner then tallying up a final score to see which Sherlock comes out on top. The categories will be: Sherlock, Watson, Supporting Cast, Villains, Storylines, and Originality. Let’s get started shall we.
Round 1: Sherlock
Benedict’s Holmes is quite posh and damn proud of it and is delightfully sassy. I absolutely adore his quick witty takedowns of those around him. He is also clean cut and stylish preferring to race around in expensive suits and there is also something about him that is naïve and a bit childlike. Jonny’s Holmes on the other hand is quite gritty, he’s covered in tattoos and has random women coming and going. He is also a lot more street smart and spends his time in t-shirts, button-ups, and jeans. And when people annoy him he tends to be more dismissive and flat out rude.
I’m going to give this one to Sherlock simply because the short format of the show allows Ben’s Holmes to hide different sides of himself and because of that whenever he does something seemingly out of character its always a delightful surprise. I love Jonny’s Holmes but he feels more like an old friend at this point.
Round 2: Watson
Both Martin Freeman and Lucy Liu are amazing as Watson and they both make great partners to their respective Sherlocks.
I had to give this to Elementary because even though Martin makes an amazing Watson I love the decision to make Watson a woman. Lucy’s Watson adds such an interesting dynamic to that relationship and the character isn’t forced into the stereotypical mother or love interest role. Holmes and Watson are friends and there is a strong connection there, but you aren’t sure what it is. Like the other Holmes and Watson they help and protect each other, but I think there is an extra layer of cool having a woman be the person having Holmes back.
Round 3: Supporting Cast
Hands down Elementary is the winner here simply because the long format allows the viewer to get to know the supporting cast better. Both shows have great casts, but Elementary, like with much of its casting, has a fresh take on the supporting cast (Ms. Hudson being trans) and I love how diverse it is. Plus I have connection to many of the characters in Elementary that I don’t have with the Sherlock supporting cast. Like outside of Molly and to a lesser extent Ms. Hudson I don’t really have any strong feelings about the cast.
Round 4: Villains
Elementary has more villians simply because Sherlock has only a fraction of the runtime it does so I thought it would only be fair to compare the big dog Moriarty. Sherlock’s Moriarty is deliciously evil and played perfectly by Andrew Scott. He is everything you want in a villain and is so crazy and charismatic he actually becomes quite likeable. Elementary’s Moriarty is played by Natalie Dormer and although she is as conniving as Andrews there is more there. She gives the character layers and it brings meaning to the madness.
What they did with the Moriarty storyline was fresh and original and absolutely brilliant. Sherlock’s Moriarty was a tough one to beat, but Elementary flawlessly surpasses them.
Round 5: Storylines
The format of Sherlock plays against it in some ways, but when it comes to storyline it actually helps. Both shows are well written and absolutely delightful to watch, but because watching an episode of Sherlock is like watching an hour and a half long movie the stories get to take their time. Plus because of the longer runtime and less episodes the stories make more of an impact and are more memorable.
Round 6: Originality
Both shows come from very well known source material that has been brought to the screen many many times and because of that there is a need for them to offer up something new and refreshing. Elementary and Sherlock manage to do that very well, but in very different ways. Elementary tosses many of the rules out of the window and plays a little like a police procedural whereas Sherlock goes for a more modern take on the classic making something a lot more slick and polished.
Once again Elementary’s ability to take a risk and make it work play in its favor. Sherlock is fantastic and stylish, but it feels reminiscent of the original which works really well. Elementary is also reminiscent of the original while also being something all it’s own and it’s not afraid to push the limits of what we know Holmes and Watson to be. It brings the story into the real world which gives it the edge.
And the final winner is…
I highly recommend both shows and I think you can watch both without it feeling redundant. But if you are looking for a totally different take on Holmes and his world I have to go with Elementary. They give you just enough of the classic while also changing the rules and making it their own. I also feel like of the two Elementary is the more universally watchable.
So do you watch Sherlock, Elementary, or Both? Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments down below.