5 Sherlock Holmes Stories to Adapt in the New Series of Elementary

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Jeffrey Paul King, the head writer and producer of Elementary, recently teased on his twitter account that we’d see an adaptation of The Speckled Band, a rather well known Sherlock Holmes story. It got me thinking, then: what if the entirety of Elementary series 5 was built of adaptations from Holmes stories?

Personally speaking, I’d love it. To be honest, I’ve always thought that Elementary missed the boat by not using more of Conan Doyle’s original stories in the first place; while there’s nothing wrong with creating your own stories, when you’ve got a property like Sherlock Holmes, it does feel like a little bit of a waste of potential not to fully avail yourself of all the material available. I would particularly have liked to see Elementary reinvent much of the Holmes canon in the same manner in which it did Watson and Moriarty – that sort of fresh and transformative approach is something I’d quite like to see.

So - which stories, in particular, would I like to see adapted?

The Blue Carbuncle

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What’s it about?

One Christmas morning, a hat and a goose are brought to Holmes and Watson - and it quickly becomes apparent that an infamous stolen jewel resided inside the stomach of the goose. With some of Holmes’ trademark detective work, the duo are soon able to find the man who stole the infamous Blue Carbuncle, and just how it ended up in the goose…

Why should it be adapted?

Primarily because of how iconic it is; the story of the Blue Carbuncle is one of the most famous of the Holmes stories, and it contains some of his best detective work. (You can see Jeremy Brett bringing that to life here.) True, we’ve heard Sherlock reference the tale during one of his sobriety meetings before, but that doesn’t rule out a sequel tale, using this story as the basis for a flashback plot to Holmes’ days in London. It could well make for an interesting character study, looking back on how Holmes operated in his old life.

The Gloria Scott

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What’s it about?

In many ways, this was something of an origin story for Holmes; it’s one of the few primarily narrated by Holmes rather than Watson, it takes place before the pair met, and it’s the point at which Holmes began to consider his detective skills as a calling, rather than merely a hobby.

Why should it be adapted?

The actual details of the case are largely immaterial; what I find attractive about this story is the existence of Victor Trevor, one of Holmes’ old friends. It’d be great for this character to turn up needing help - it’d be a great way to delve into Sherlock’s character, giving us a little more insight into his backstory, while at the same time contrasting his relationship with Victor against his relationship with Watson.

The Red Headed League

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What’s it about?

The Red Headed League features a ginger man asking Holmes and Watson for help finding out what happened to the eponymous league – they’d been paying him money, because of his hair colour, but recently disappeared. It transpired that a pair of bank robbers had fabricated the organisation, to try and keep this particular ginger man out of his shop while they were tunneling in his cellar.

Why should it be adapted?

In many ways, it’s quite a funny story – Holmes and Watson laugh the man out of their offices the first time he comes to see them. This one, I think, has the potential to be a pretty good comedy episode; if nothing else, the idea of large groups of ginger people just coalescing is an entertaining one.

The Man with the Twisted Lip

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What’s it about?

This story, The Man with the Twisted Lip, is a favourite of mine; a case of mistaken identity, involving a man who pretends to be homeless because begging on the streets resulted in more cash than his actual wages. It all fell to pieces, though, when his wife when to Holmes and Watson – on suspicion of the man being murdered by his homeless alter ego.

Why should it be adapted?

I think there’s potential for some interesting character development for Watson, actually; her biological father was revealed to be homeless during season two, and I think a return to that plotline through this story could lead to some interesting developments. There’s also, I believe, the possibility to update this in quite a compelling way, to include some commentary on poverty in America, and how that influences society.

The Sussex Vampire

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What’s it about?

Here we see a man come to Holmes, terrified one of his children is being attacked by a vampire – Holmes and Watson quickly surmise the truth, but go to visit the man regardless. It soon becomes apparent that, rather than a vampire bite, the child suffered an attack from a pair of poison darts.

Why should it be adapted?

One of the things I enjoy about Holmes stories is how they occasionally dabble in the gothic – I think this one, with its tales of urban vampires, could make for a good starting point for a gothic style Elementary. That’s particularly the case if they try to combine it with The Giant Rat of Sumatra – a case referred to in The Sussex Vampire, but always left ambiguous. You’d end with a rational explanation, of course (I can easily see poison darts being updated to hypodermic needles), but I reckon it’d be great to have a proper, spooky Elementary story.

Related:

Making a House a Holmes

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