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.