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Investigating Television In Translation: Drama Focus

Sherlock Holmes has been distributed worldwide, being part of the public domain. As a result of this, Conan Doyle’s famous character has appeared in countless books, television shows and even Hollywood blockbusters and continues to pop up here and there! Now typically, many of the adaptations include the same characters, however cultural differences and variations have still been implemented. This is evident in the show inspired by Sherlock Holmes, ‘Elementary’. Set in New York City, a geographic alternation to the original tales, Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) resides as  recovering addict, and is being sponsored by his sober companion, Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Lui). It is this original relationship which eventually develops the connection between Holmes and Watson, with Watson ultimately becoming an apprentice of some sort to Holmes.

Elementary Official Series Poster

Elementary Official Series Poster

It is interesting however, that Watson was chosen to be played by a female in this American adaptation. Within this relationship there is no sexual tension and more of a common understanding and respect, which seems to be admired by American audiences. Such a casting choice adds elements of contemporary political correctness to the narrative.  However, another huge change to the original texts was introducing Natalie Dormer as both playing Irene Adler, Holme’s love interest who broke his heart after her unexpected ‘death’, only to re-merge as Moriarty, the criminal mastermind of the show. This once again gives the show element of sexual tension and sexualisation, another key factor which openly engages American audiences. Once again, like comedy in the translation, dramas’ successes are heavily influenced by the casting choices for characters as well as the motifs for which they are ultimately chosen.

Elementary Official Series Poster

Elementary Official Series Poster

Ultimately drama in translations are also heavily reliant on the factors that are influential in relation to comedies in translation as well. However, I personally believe that drama are easily adapted and are often more successful with their adaptations and spreads around the global communities.



Frew, C. 2014, ‘Television in Translation: Drama Focus’, Lecture Week 8, BCM 111: International Media and Communications, UOW, 20/9/14

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