David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

question: which looks worse? ELEMENTARY, or the new BEAUTY AND THE BEAST?

I've been cautiously curious about ELEMENTARY, the American version of a present-day Sherlock Holmes, starring Johnny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Watson. I'll watch Liu in almost anything, but my first reaction to her being cast as Watson was that she would make a far better Holmes because Liu is great as chilly, remote, and cruel, but her screen persona doesn't do warm and sympathetic. She's magnetic, and you love *watching* her characters, but you don't love her characters as people very often. But I figured I'd tune in to watch her, anyway.

Then I saw the preview trailer. It's ghastly.

What's interesting about this is that we're getting farther and farther away from the concept of the key ingredients of Sherlock Holmes and Watson as characters. It's not the Watson genderswap; it's the characterizations are very much a second-generation lift. ELEMENTARY isn't an updating of Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes at all. It's a new take on Robert Downey Jr.'s Holmes, and an Americanization of Moffat's Holmes. The writers seem not to have thought very much about Sherlock Holmes as a concept at all.

At one point, for example, Holmes deduces that a victim gave the perpetrator a drink because the volume of broken glass on the floor suggests two glasses. That is not an interesting deduction. There is no story to it. It comes off, in short, like stupid people trying to write someone smart.

The only bit where Miller comes off well is when he is talking to a woman who claims to have been strangled, and plays hardball in the conversation. It's the only thing that gives a sense of his Holmes's oddness, and even that basically a straight lift from Moffat's SHERLOCK, rather than a Conan Doyle Holmes.

I thought that was pretty bad. Then I ran across the remake of the Hamilton/Perlman BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Folks, that was a great show. Romantic, beautifully acted, and the leads managed to keep a simple, profound feeling in what could easily have degenerated into schmaltz. The writing team was solid, but it was the casting that *made* that show. The show was emotional, literate, and had a heart and sense of wonder to it that made you love it even when it was ridiculous. Hamilton's Catherine Chandler was an attorney who was abducted and slashed by criminals who had mistaken her for someone else they had meant to intimidate. Near death, she was rescued and nursed back to health by Vincent, a gentle, book-loving giant, who lived with his father and friends in a secret city below New York, and whose appearance was so horrific (courtesy of a *brilliant* make-up design by Rick Baker) that he could never hope to lead a normal life or even pass for human. Catherine and Vincent lived in completely different worlds and could never hope to bridge the gap, but their love of each other, good books, classical music, and a growing psychic connection made sure they were never far apart. I am the world's biggest anti-shipper, guys, but I gotta tell you it was a great romance and a great show.

(Until it got screwed over and retooled by circumstances and network, but hey, I loved it.)

Here is a publicity still of Hamilton and Perlman in costume, and damned if it doesn't make you go, "Holy crap, that is unique, I want to take a look at that show."


The remake stars SMALLVILLE's Kristin Kreuk and some pretty plastic boy (ETA: *looks up* er, Jay Ryan, from TERRA NOVA). Here they are, in character:

Ron Perlman mocks your time in makeup, prettyboy


Here's the logline for the Kreuk version:

Detective Catherine Chandler is a smart, no-nonsense homicide detective. Several years earlier, Catherine witnessed the murder of her mother at the hands of two gunmen. Catherine would have been killed too, but someone – or something – saved her. No one has ever believed her, but she knows it wasn’t an animal that attacked the assassins…it was human. Years have passed, and Catherine is a strong, confident, capable police officer, working alongside her equally talented partner, Tess. While investigating a murder, Catherine discovers a clue that leads her to a handsome doctor named Vincent Keller, who was reportedly killed by enemy fire while serving in Afghanistan in 2002. Catherine learns that Vincent is actually still alive and that it was he who saved her many years before. For mysterious reasons that have forced him to live outside of traditional society, Vincent has been in hiding for the past 10 years to guard his secret – when he is enraged, he becomes a terrifying beast, unable to control his super-strength and heightened senses. Catherine agrees to protect his identity in return for any insight he may have into her mother’s murder. Thus begins a complex relationship between Catherine and Vincent, who are powerfully drawn to each other yet understand that their connection is extremely dangerous for both of them.

Everything that made the original awesome is gone. Wow. I mean, I would expect differences, absolutely, and plenty of updating. But it's at the point where I don't even understand why they're billing it as a remake at all.

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Tags: tv

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