Sherlock Creators Not Pleased About CBS's New Show

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT
 

Sherlock Creators Not Pleased About CBS's New Show

image

Who would've imagined that the folks behind the BBC's Sherlock would be upset about CBS's new series about a modern day Sherlock Holmes?

CBS's decision to order a pilot for Elementary - a new TV show with a modern day take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories - was met with a lot of wry head-shaking across the Web last week. This was because the show's premise bears an uncanny resemblance to the BBC's own (excellent) show, Sherlock. It turns out that Sherlock's creators noticed the similarities, too, and are warning CBS that it could face a nasty legal battle over the new show.

Sherlock executive producer Sue Vertrue (who's married to the show's co-creator Steven Moffat), took to Twitter after CBS announced the ordered pilot. While she didn't exactly call the network out for being run by unoriginal hacks, she did note that this show was ordered only after CBS offered to do an American remake of Sherlock:

We understand that CBS are doing their own version of an updated Sherlock Holmes. It's interesting, as they approached us a while back about remaking our show.

At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernised Sherlock Holmes doesn't resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying.

We are very proud of our show and like any proud parent, will protect the interest and wellbeing of our offspring.

On one hand, the concept of an updated Sherlock Holmes can't really be copyrighted, but Vertrue and her co-producers do have a substantial leg to stand on when it comes to things like the settings, costumes, characters, narrative/visual style, and plotlines featured in Sherlock. That could cause a lot of legal headaches, considering how much background checking will (potentially) need to be done with each episode; if things become too much of a hassle, CBS may just abandon the project.

Source: The Independent via Screen Rant

Permalink

vansau:

We understand that CBS are doing their own version of an updated Sherlock Holmes. It's interesting, as they approached us a while back about remaking our show.

At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernised Sherlock Holmes doesn't resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying.

We are very proud of our show and like any proud parent, will protect the interest and wellbeing of our offspring.

Even if said offspring is actually the child of Arthur Conan Doyle, not the BBC, and has been in the public domain for decades now...

I dunno. As a fan of the original stories, I wasn't all that enamoured with Sherlock. Cool idea, and the acting was mostly good, but as a crime show I feel it was pretty lacklustre. And they completely botched Moriarty from being a cool Godfather-type lord of the Underworld ("The Napolean of crime") into some annoying Joker knock off, complete with Ho-Yay fixation on the hero.

So instead of one modern day Sherlock Holmes show? We get two? Most likely with interesting cultural differences due to being made in different countries? I completely fail to see how this is anything other than a win.

Need I mention the US Red Dwarf, Life On Mars, Coupling(Moffat), The IT Crowd...

You've got the US "Holmes", he's called House MD.

GiantRaven:
So instead of one modern day Sherlock Holmes show? We get two? Most likely with interesting cultural differences due to being made in different countries? I completely fail to see how this is anything other than a win.

It's CBS.

That, in and of itself, should be enough to cause some worries.

I personally hope that "Elementary" gets cancelled. An American Sherlock Holmes? As in, he lives in America? BOLLOCKS.

(DISCLAIMER: I'm an American, so I have every right to say it's a stupid American idea, and I have no right to say "bollocks".)

The_root_of_all_evil:
Need I mention the US Red Dwarf, Life On Mars, Coupling(Moffat), The IT Crowd...

You've got the US "Holmes", he's called House MD.

Also, this. If I want an over-dramatic, sometimes hilariously so, American version of Sherlock Holmes with a twist, I'll watch House.

House still doesn't hold a candle to Cumberbatch's Sherlock, though, as much as I love good ol' Hugh.

The_root_of_all_evil:
Need I mention the US Red Dwarf, Life On Mars, Coupling(Moffat), The IT Crowd...

You've got the US "Holmes", he's called House MD.

May I add Shameless to that list?

There seems to be an epidemic in recent American releases that are just rehashes of older/other current material.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

vansau:

We understand that CBS are doing their own version of an updated Sherlock Holmes. It's interesting, as they approached us a while back about remaking our show.

At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernised Sherlock Holmes doesn't resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying.

We are very proud of our show and like any proud parent, will protect the interest and wellbeing of our offspring.

Even if said offspring is actually the child of Arthur Conan Doyle, not the BBC, and has been in the public domain for decades now...

Doyle's characters and stories have, but reiterations of them can still be copyrighted if they deviate in a substantive matter away from the original source material (not a very high bar to hit, I might add). For example, you can use the script for Romeo and Juliet without any issue, but you can't make a 90s urban gang movie version (ala Leonardo DiCaprio) because that copyright is held by the studio.

In this case, the setting (modern day) and minor twists in the characters (Watson as a modern Afghanistan vet instead of a Victorian one) may be substantial enough to sustain BBC's claim over the IP.

ZeroMachine:
It's CBS.

That, in and of itself, should be enough to cause some worries.

Non-american here. I have absolutely no idea what you're referring to. What makes them so terrible?

GiantRaven:

ZeroMachine:
It's CBS.

That, in and of itself, should be enough to cause some worries.

Non-american here. I have absolutely no idea what you're referring to. What makes them so terrible?

In all honesty, I could be in a minority here, but I feel that their shows are far too overdramatic, and not in an entertaining or funny way. The original CSI was good for a while and, from what I understand, NCIS is good (though I'd be lying if I said I've enjoyed a single minute of that show) but most of their new stuff is, IMO, absolute shit.

And I don't know if it's a common thing in... er... where you're from? :P But here with rare exception you can tell what channel a show is on from watching just one episode, and sometimes less.

Needless to say, I have no faith in Elementary coming even close to matching the perfect combination of funny, serious, and smart that Sherlock has.

That just seems stupid to me. How can anyone own the concept of a modern day Sherlock Holmes show (other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, maybe)? It wasn't an original idea to begin with...

Of course, I'm fairly certain the American version will suck, but that's a completely different point.

Sue Vertrue is the wife of the notoriously word-play heavy Steven Moffat? Really? :D

EDIT: And is even threatening legal action :)

Well I for one learned a lot about whether or not it's illegal to display the Swastika in Germany, but I'm not sure what that has to do with Sherlock Holmes.

vansau:
...if things become too much of a hassle, CBS may just abandon the project.

Honestly, I hope so. Based on their last "remake" of a British show, Life on Mars, that I saw, no. Don't.

Lunncal:
That just seems stupid to me. How can anyone own the concept of a modern day Sherlock Holmes show (other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, maybe)? It wasn't an original idea to begin with...

If Arthur Conan Doyle still held the rights to Sherlock Holmes, then you could only own the concept of a modern day Sherlock Holmes by him licensing you the rights.

But due to the time its been since he wrote Sherlock, it is now public domain. You still cant simply own Sherlock Holmes and stop other people from using it, but if you create a work based on Holmes you can own the parts that you invent. In this case, the idea of him being in the modern day, the particular way you incorporate modern technology into the story, and changes youve made to the original, etc.

If you were to try to sue someone for copyright infringement then the court would look at how many of your unique inventions, as opposed to the stuff from the original Holmes stories, were copied and whether those elements indicate that the person youre suing was deliberately copying not just the classic Holmes but your own original work.

(I strongly recommend Law of the Geek for an interesting explanation of IP, for anyone whos interested. Its a podcast hosted by two geeky IP lawyers, covering geek culture IP cases.)

I'd like to point out two things here.

1. Sherlock didn't invent the concept of a modern day Sherlock Holmes. There have been novels about it, and even that Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century deal (I didn't say there were GOOD examples...)

2. Yes, most American takes on British shows are pretty bad, but I've yet to see a good British take on an American show either. (Days Like These...ugh...just awful)

I'm a fairly avid Sherlockian myself, and yeah, I like Sherlock...a lot. In fact it's no hyperbole to say I was utterly surprised at how much I really liked it (except the second episode...it wasn't that good) and I'm even prepared to admit that Elementary probably won't be that good, and will probably even get cancelled after one season.

But I'm at least willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and check it out first.

There's room in my heart for two modern day Sherlock Holmes. Honestly, with both of these series and the RDJ movies...I'm just happy that Holmes is getting shown more in the public.

As long as elementary doesn't try to portray Watson as a bumbling sidekick, I'm happy.

This message brought to you by the captcha message "Band tsMynal"

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Even if said offspring is actually the child of Arthur Conan Doyle, not the BBC, and has been in the public domain for decades now...

Yes, THAT's the part of the material they're talking about.

Caffiene:

Lunncal:
That just seems stupid to me. How can anyone own the concept of a modern day Sherlock Holmes show (other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, maybe)? It wasn't an original idea to begin with...

If Arthur Conan Doyle still held the rights to Sherlock Holmes, then you could only own the concept of a modern day Sherlock Holmes by him licensing you the rights.

But due to the time its been since he wrote Sherlock, it is now public domain. You still cant simply own Sherlock Holmes and stop other people from using it, but if you create a work based on Holmes you can own the parts that you invent. In this case, the idea of him being in the modern day, the particular way you incorporate modern technology into the story, and changes youve made to the original, etc.

If you were to try to sue someone for copyright infringement then the court would look at how many of your unique inventions, as opposed to the stuff from the original Holmes stories, were copied and whether those elements indicate that the person youre suing was deliberately copying not just the classic Holmes but your own original work.

(I strongly recommend Law of the Geek for an interesting explanation of IP, for anyone whos interested. Its a podcast hosted by two geeky IP lawyers, covering geek culture IP cases.)

Yeah, I get you, and I understand how it works (in a very broad sense). I just think it's stupid.

They should own the rights to their own show, I guess, but that's it as far as I'm concerned. I don't understand why they should be able to arbitrarily "own" and therefore be able to halt any other modern interpretations of Sherlock Holmes, or any other modern interpretations of Sherlock Holmes that share certain similarities with their own. It becomes even more stupid when the thing you own the rights to wasn't an original idea in the first place, as in this case. Making modern versions of classic books isn't exactly a revolutionary thought, and I'd be extremely surprised if there wasn't a whole host of modern takes on Sherlock out there.

Besides which, doesn't it completely fly in the face of capitalism and legally enforce monopolies? If someone out there can make a better modern day Sherlock Holmes than you can (doubtful in this case, as I hear the show is really good), then why shouldn't they be able to do it? That's what capitalism is all about, yet copyright laws make it illegal to compete with the first product in that specific area.

The only real benefit I can see to the laws are entirely for the existing companies that already own ideas, who get to stifle their competition. Why do we want that?

This reminds me that I need to watch Sherlock, but that is neither here nor there.

Anyways, this sounds interesting. I hope that CBS will do the right thing here.

Huh, with US non-cable television's track record in show quality (either predictable or with a "we-need-to-point-out-the-obvious-because-our-viewers-are-stupid mentality - just compare Law and Order and Law and Order UK) regardless of it being remakes or originals, I can't say that I have high expectations for this one.

The UK Sherlock series was truly great, with deep characters and some original twists on the material, although I felt it went a bit overboard and had plot points that would better fit a Tom Clancy novel on occasion.

And that's the UK version. Imagine what the US version would be like. Subtlety has not really been a staple of US television...

In any case, since I am neither a UK nor US viewer and therefore will only watch both on DVD, it will be interesting to see which I will stick with. In any case though, it will be hard for the US' version to reach Sherlock's standard. Although of course I hope that it will be even better.

PurePareidolia:
Well I for one learned a lot about whether or not it's illegal to display the Swastika in Germany, but I'm not sure what that has to do with Sherlock Holmes.

I was wondering about that interesting link, myself.

Lunncal:
Making modern versions of classic books isn't exactly a revolutionary thought, and I'd be extremely surprised if there wasn't a whole host of modern takes on Sherlock out there.

I strongly doubt that they actually could protect the "Sherlock" TV show based only on the fact that its a modern take. I think it would need to have many more similarities than that. As you say, the idea to set a classic story in the modern day is very common, and certain things naturally extend from that idea (for example "people have mobile phones" is just a natural part of the modern setting) - you couldnt just own those parts. Where you would start having a case is I think more in specific things like

The point of the court case is to figure out where to draw the line as to what counts as being specific enough to be an original idea and a new invention to the story.

If someone out there can make a better modern day Sherlock Holmes than you can (doubtful in this case, as I hear the show is really good), then why shouldn't they be able to do it? That's what capitalism is all about, yet copyright laws make it illegal to compete with the first product in that specific area.

Its a bit of a chicken & egg problem... Would that person have had the idea to make a better modern show if the original modern show hadnt existed? I mean, in the case of Sherlock the stories have been around for decades... CBS hadnt wanted to make a modern sherlock holmes before now, why the sudden interest? Or, if the original modern show hadnt done the work to get people interested, would the new one have actually managed to be more successful? It needs to be figured out whether the new competitor is actually creating their own customers, or if theyre just stealing the customers the first guy spent their time and money creating.

The other part of the idea of IP laws is that they are intended to create an incentive to take risks and make new things. Like the chicken & egg problem I mentioned above: Its much easier to come into an existing market than it is to develop something from scratch. Without IP laws to say "you have some exclusive rights to ensure you profit from your hard work", a lot more people would want to just sit and wait for someone else to do it first and then copy them, because theres no benefit to being the first. IP is supposed to reward people for creating new things, so that we end up with more new & unique things being made.

Oh no, please don't stop the Americans making an American Sherlock Holmes, the character would be a lot poorer for it.

That should cover my sarcasm quota for the day.

As long as Robert Downey Jr. has absolutely NOTHING to do with this version, It could be good.
I wonder who they WILL get to play the definitive detective.

The_root_of_all_evil:
Need I mention the US Red Dwarf, Life On Mars, Coupling(Moffat), The IT Crowd...

You've got the US "Holmes", he's called House MD.

They're afraid that this might turn into the Office.
And I don't think House really counts since Hugh is British.

To be honest Sherlock Holmes is so iconic and has been used so many differant ways over the years that I don't think the BBC show has a leg to stand on here. Relocating Sherlock Holmes to the modern day is such a typical idea that I can't see anyone making claim to it, and really any arguements about it in terms of costumes, plots, and similar things when the vibe for such a show is pretty much self-suggestive are likewise extremely silly.

IMO both groups should just zip it and try and make the best shows they can, and see which stands the test of time (or if genere fans are lucky, both will). TV knocks itself off regularly anyway.

To be entirely honest I think one of the big reasons why you see so many attempts to remake things for the US audience is that the BBC tends to do most of it's stuff on a comparitive shoestring. Even the best show from the BBC seems to come accross as being rather cheap.

I've long since thought that if the BBC increased it's production values it could more easily release accross the english speaking world.

What's more I've typically found that like with everything the original version usually has better writing. The creator usually does things a specific way for a reason after a lot of though, and when something is re-produced the creative team there feels the need to put their touch into it to make it "theirs" without half as much thought and the results are rarely positive.

With a general idea like this since I don't think we're dealing with a direct knock off/re tread I'd immediatly guess that the US version "Elementary" is probably going to be better because more money is going to be put into it even if that doesn't always guarantee quality. I doubt there is going to be much effort to knock off costumes and sets, because and American studio is probably going to have that all over your typical British production.

I'm not surprised at all, this is what american directors do. They just take foreign show concepts, steal them and just make all the 'good' characters american. Let me guess. They will all be highschool teenagers? Oh and let us not forget that Hollywood just simply cant help making a series without every character participating in some lame romance, and each season all the characters will rotate love partners atleast 3 times.

Since Sherlock, like Doctor Who and most anything else the BBC creates recently seems to be marketed to 13 year olds with short attention spans who needs bells, whistles and fancy crosscut chase scenes to keep them entertained. I find myself utterly unable to care if the US series is a rip off or not.

Go ahead and copy rubbish, but copied rubbish is likely to be more rubbish...

vansau:

Sherlock executive producer Sue Vertrue (who's married to the show's co-creator Steven Moffat), took to Twitter after CBS announced the ordered pilot. While she didn't exactly call the network out for being run by unoriginal hacks, she did note that this show was ordered only after CBS offered to do an American remake of Sherlock:

Just FYI: It's Sue Vertue, not Vertrue. :-)

People who don't like BBC Sherlock won't like this and people who DO like BBC Sherlock will watch that instead ... why bother?

I love BBC Sherlock and Cumberbatch is epic (as is Freeman as Watson). Who the hell could be better?

This is just pathetic on CBS' part.

Sherlock Holmes is in public domain so while id rather not see an american Holmes since being British and living on baker street in London are part of his character and to make him American for the sake of it seems like an unfitting portrayal of the charater. However it seems they may simply be re-making the recent BBC series rather than making an original show. That I dont really view as fair as while the plots of the BBC series are based off the novels (I think I never read them and some of the characters have been totally re written apparently again i dont know) they have been extremely well done and well written for their new setting.

This remake is pointless because Sherlock already set the bar way high.
And this remake is just a waste of time and money but I could be wrong.
I doubt it but I could be wrong.

Honestly i this is less of sign of wholesale palgarism as it is a sign of the complete creative bankrupcey of the entire US TV system. "Make a show that already exists, if its not a proven formatt we won't run it!". 'The networks' have been putting out a pale immitation of creative content for years.

And they wonder why people would rather just use the internet...

Quellist:
Since Sherlock [...] seems to be marketed to 13 year olds with short attention spans

Uh... which episodes have you seen, exactly?

Caffiene:

Lunncal:
Making modern versions of classic books isn't exactly a revolutionary thought, and I'd be extremely surprised if there wasn't a whole host of modern takes on Sherlock out there.

I strongly doubt that they actually could protect the "Sherlock" TV show based only on the fact that its a modern take. I think it would need to have many more similarities than that. As you say, the idea to set a classic story in the modern day is very common, and certain things naturally extend from that idea (for example "people have mobile phones" is just a natural part of the modern setting) - you couldnt just own those parts. Where you would start having a case is I think more in specific things like

Yeah, this. Absolutely, BBC has no claim to all modern reimaginings of Sherlock Holmes. But given that CBS is acting on the heels of BBC's success, and that they actually asked BBC's permission to do a remake of their version before embarking on the current one, you have to assume that they're taking what the BBC's done into account - and if it's stylistically really close, then that's is plagiarism/copyright infringement on what the BBC's done.

ablac:
Sherlock Holmes is in public domain so while id rather not see an american Holmes since being British and living on baker street in London are part of his character and to make him American for the sake of it seems like an unfitting portrayal of the charater. However it seems they may simply be re-making the recent BBC series rather than making an original show. That I dont really view as fair as while the plots of the BBC series are based off the novels (I think I never read them and some of the characters have been totally re written apparently again i dont know) they have been extremely well done and well written for their new setting.

Oh crap, I didn't even think of this until you mentioned it. This would be AN AMERICAN HOLMES. IN AMERICA. While that certainly gives it the potential to skirt the whole infringement issue, it does it by... gah, I don't want to think about that. An Americanized Holmes is just so alien a thought that it defies the imagination.

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here