Inspired but not solely dependent on the books by Arthur Conan Doyle, Elementary director Robert Doherty says that the show, set in New York with a female Watson (Lucy Liu) and a drug-addict Sherlock Holmes (Johnny Lee Miller), incorporates the ‘original stories and books’ and ‘lifts characters and plots that we’ve enjoyed’. But what he finds most interesting is the challenge of finding and crafting mysteries that need to rise to the level of Holmes. “He and Joan are extraordinary detectives, and so the cases they tackle need to be correspondingly extraordinary. Everything needs to keep twisting,” shares Doherty, before taking us through the updated version of the Victorian tales, and what we can expect in season four.
How did you come to do Elementary?
I was a tremendous fan of Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing when I was a kid and had also seen Sherlock Holmes pop up in comic books. So he and Watson have always been dear to me. When Carl Beverly and I started to talk about tackling this project, I had to re-familiarise myself a bit, just to get back into the nitty-gritty and the details of Sherlock’s life. I re-read a few of the books and it reignited that same excitement. There’s a reason he’s one of the most popular characters in literature over the last 100 years.
What makes Holmes so appealing?
Sherlock Holmes is a sort of alien, simultaneously human and superhuman. We can’t always relate to what he does, but we can aspire to it. I love that he’s able to apply his sensitivities to the most complicated problems and arrive at simple solutions. He makes it all look so easy. But I imagine that in reality, those sensitivities would cause him pain. And so our Sherlock turned to detective work to not only find justice for victims of crimes, but to ease some of the pain he feels.
Why did you pick a female Watson?
As I started to develop Elementary, I noticed that a few real-world doctors had written psychological assessments of Sherlock Holmes. More than a few had described an aversion to women. So I thought taking his traditionally male partner and changing his gender might make for some good fun.
What can we expect in season four?
Sherlock is recovering from the relapse he suffered at the end of season three. He has an excellent support system in place, but it’s threatened when his father, Morland, appears in New York. The two Holmes men have a long and complicated history. And while Morland insists he’s only here to help, Joan has her suspicions.
How do you deal with the delicate area of drugs?
We take Sherlock’s history with addiction very seriously. We keep it all as real as possible. His dependency is his greatest flaw, and yet, at the end of the day, it’s also his most relatable aspect. Few people can relate to the way his mind works, but many know what it’s like to care about someone struggling with addiction.
Weekdays at 10 pm on AXN
— Aakanksha Devi