Translation of a different kind, Drama.

Dramas operate across cultures, locations and nationality; so changes need to be made successfully to be able to be looked at by the culture it emanates. (Frew 2014) Sherlock Holmes has been adapted many times and is accepted as a successful drama adaptation.

Sherlock is presented through an English detective genre with the typical English country style, a skilled amateur detective and interfering policeman professionals that can’t solve the crime. Elementary has been translated to be an American detective fiction, therefore its values differ. The hero in this case is more violent, attractive, damaged from drugs and alcohol, a womaniser and has strong morals.

The casting also differs as Elementary casts a female, Lucy Lui to play Dr Joan Watson to form a strong partner like relationship. Whereas the English version, Sherlock; Dr Watson is played by a male. This adds an ‘americanised element of political correctness to the narrative’. This also displays Elementarys’ modernity through changes of gender but also the use of a multicultural cast- highlighting ‘the open nature of American society’.

A huge noted change to the original text is having Nathalie Dormer play both roles of the lover, who broke Holmes’ heart as well as a the criminal mastermind. This provides an Americanised quality of ‘unresolved sexual tension’ which is desired by American audiences.

Both dramas have gained popularity and success through the positive translation and adaptation that is accepted by both cultures.

This Englishness is a constructed quality. The take on Englishness can be seen as a transnational trope which is used in each narrative to serve different dramatic purpose. – Frew 2014


YouTube video:

Asher-Perrin. E. 2014, ‘Battling Super Sleuths: The Awkward Case of Elementary, Sherlock, and Building the Better Adaptation’ visited 14/10/14

Frew, C. 2014, ‘Television in Translation: Drama Focus’, Lecture Week 8, BCM 111: International Media and Communications, UOW, 14/10/14


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