Global Success of Television re-makes – Very Elementary BCM111

Elementary, 2012 - CBS
Elementary, 2012 – CBS
BBC's Sherlock, 2010.
BBC’s Sherlock, 2010.

In lecture and tutorial week seven we learnt about television shows in a global context, about how comedy shows like Kath and Kim (Australia) and The Office (UK) have been remade in America. What was brought up was whether remaking these shows was successful or not, and that different countries have different tastes and opinions when it comes to comedy.

For this post today I’d like to step aside from the comedy and talk about other television shows that have been a success in one country, and also successfully remade in a different global context. Specifically I will be talking about the UK’s BBC, Sherlock, 2010, and the Americanised remake, Elementary, 2012.

With BBC’s Sherlock, Bennedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock Holmes, and Martin Freeman portrays Watson. Sherlock is a modernised show that follows closely to Conan Doyle’s books on the well-loved detective. The modernised take of this show finds Holmes in the 21st century, and Watson, still a doctor – who served in the Afghan War. (IMBD, 2010)

Writer Steven Moffat, who is also the writer for Doctor Who, describes Sherlock Holmes stories that relate to the show saying:

“Conan Doyle’s Stories were never about frock coats and gas light; they’re about brilliant detection, dreadful villains and blood-curdling crimes – and frankly, to hell with the crinoline. Other detectives have cases, Sherlock Holmes has adventures, and that’s what matters.” (Moffat, S 2013)

Now, in the remake of Sherlock, the US show Elementary, Holmes and other characters are perceived very differently. The adaptation of the show challenges the discourse of Conan Doyle’s stories, making the storyline very much Americanised. This is done by the setting taking place in New York, with Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) consultant (For NYPD) and recovering addict and Joan Watson (Lucy Lui) who is his sober companion and an ex surgeon. Together they help Captain Gregson/ NYPD solve crimes. (Ten, 2013) The cooler twist to this show is that Moriarty ends up being a female as well – Holmes’s missing girlfriend thought to be killed by Moriarty.

As you can see between the two successful shows, one keeping to the stories, the other Americanised – on a global context the US adaptation worked well as it fitted and was able to be well received globally with a fresh take on the famous Sherlock Holmes.


BBC 2013, About: ‘Sherlock’, accessed, 15/9/13,

IMBD 2010, ‘Sherlock’, accessed 12/9/13,

Ten, 2013, About: ‘Elementary’, accessed, 15/9/13,

BBC Sherlock

CBS Elementary


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