HOLLYWOOD – Yet another take on the Sherlock Holmes story? F’r Sher! Why not? “Elementary” is coming Sept. 27 on CBS. This go-round, Sherlock (played by Jonny Lee Miller), though a Londoner, lives in contemporary New York City. Watson (Lucy Liu) is not a dude. And Sherlock has recent issues with dissipating behavior, including but not exclusively cocaine abuse.
It is those twists/alterations/permutations that sold executive producer Rob Doherty (“Medium,” “Ringer”) on the project.
“As a fan, because Sherlock lives in the public domain, he’s been through many, many, many hands,” Doherty said during the CBS portion of the Summer TV Tour. “I think that’s actually one of the upsides to the character. I think if so many people couldn’t put their own spins on it, handle it at some point, I don’t know that he would exist in the popular culture the way he does.”
That Holmes is flawed – socially, chemically, perhaps mentally – may be the secret to the character’s durability.
“Our Sherlock is a puzzle-solver,” Doherty said. “I really think that is his obsession to the point you might call it an addiction. I think, in many senses, he has something of an addictive personality. In the source material, obviously, that turned into a real kind of addiction. The original Sherlock dabbled with cocaine, dabbled with opiates. Our Sherlock had those same problems, but I think one of the big differences is our Sherlock hit a serious wall. I’ve always described him as someone for whom the world and life came quite easily because he could see so many things. He could take things down to their simplest elements, and it makes not just investigation relatively simple but living your life and navigating this world.
“But, obviously, something happened. To his great surprise, the world is not as easy as he thought. Something terrible happened to him in London. He spiraled out of control. Our Sherlock has emerged with what I think is at his core just a tiny kernel of self doubt where one previously never existed. It’s not something we are going to speak to very often, but I think it’s one of the things that drives him.
“I absolutely don’t see him as a sociopath. I see him as someone who is driven, again, to solve puzzles, to do the right thing, to help people. I really do think, at the end of the day, he believes in justice. It’s not just about putting bad guys behind bars. Helping people and doing the right thing are factors that play into it as well.”