As of recently I wrote about the question whether “comedy is culturally expressive” concluding that the cultural translation of comedy is difficult due to the unique nature of each countries humour. Drama is much the same, as seen through the example of Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes has been adapted many times for both cinema and television, because of the number of adaptations it shows just how popular is really is. The first novel was published in 1887, 3 other novels were followed as well as 56 short stories. The majority of the novels occur from Holmes’ companion and assistant John Watson perspective, hence from the outset Sherlock Holmes was presented to the reader as a series of observations of a strange, unique Englishman.
Edgar Alan Poe’s The Murders at the Rue Morgue published in 1841 is generally accepted as being the first in the genre. There are reasonably noticable differences in British detective fiction and American detective fiction. The American version of Sherlock Holmes first aired in September 2012, in New York city, shows specific American traits. American Crime drama specifically follows violent traits, a lone working private eye with substance issues and a journey into the underworld. They also tend to follow a standard police procedural format, one which Elementary appears to follow. Elementary also follows this ‘private eye’ narrative through the characters exploration of New York to solve crimes quite often murder. The addition of Lucy Liu portray Joan Watson also not only provides an aura of modernity in the portrayal of a female DR Watson, but a form of Americanisation through the charcter development.
At the end of the day both shows are unique in there on way and attempting to depict a very similar man by highlighting how he might fit into a social circle of very different people. However it goes to show how much needs to be changed to better suit the cultural differences in drama focus.
– Frew, C 2014 ‘Sherlock and Elementary- Representing Englishness in Television Drama. [Accessed 18th Sept. 2014].