“Elementary”: New Synopsis and First Glimpse of…Sherlock’s Tattoo?

Very hot on the heels of news that they’d picked Elementary up for a full series, CBS have geared up the publicity machine and given us a synopsis and the first trailer.

The synopsis is quick to establish the set-up. Following a fall from grace, “eccentric Sherlock escapes to Manhattan where his wealthy father forces him to live with his worst nightmare – a sober companion, Dr. Watson.” There’s also a little more on Dr. Watson’s new background – “A successful surgeon until she lost a patient and her license three years ago, Watson views her current job as another opportunity to help people, as well as paying a penance.”

It’s certainly some further twisting of the original canon, a rather different meet-cute than you’ll find in the books or other adaptations. Sherlock (not Holmes, though Joan is referred to throughout as Watson) is using crime-solving to combat his addiction, forcing his sober companion to tag along. “But Sherlock finds her medical background helpful, and Watson realizes she has a knack for playing investigator.”

Gregson, a counterpart for Inspector Lestrade in the novels (and mentioned once so far in the BBC series) is reincarnated as an NYPD Captain who once worked with Scotland Yard, and he’s also Sherlock’s ticket into working with the police department.

There are elements to it that make it less of what we know; removing Watson’s military background makes for a fundamentally changed character, and the chance circumstances of their canon meeting don’t feel as fated here. It runs the risk of becoming simply another crime procedural that uses the name Sherlock Holmes, rather than an actual adaptation, but the trailer offers up conflicting ideas as to what elements of the characters remain. It doesn’t quite work to hear Sherlock say “I hate it when I’m right,” but something in Jonny Lee Miller’s performance does echo Benedict Cumberbatch’s original performance from the pilot episode of Sherlock, which was far warmer than the end product.

The footage from this trailer also comes from a pilot, so it will be interesting to see what changes – if any – are made following public reaction. It’s difficult to let go off such a beloved series as Sherlock, especially when Elementary is more than a little treading on its modern-day toes, but with 3 minutes of footage against 540 any real conclusions will just have to wait.

One thing we know for sure, though – Sherlock Holmes has a tattoo. Yep. Watch the trailer below to see for yourself.