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BBC ‘Sherlock’ Creator “Annoyed” with CBS for ‘Elementary’

It happens all the time in America, but that doesn’t mean the British have to be happy about it.  A number of UK-originating series have made their way across the pond to be adapted for American TV, some more successfully than others, and now ‘Sherlock’ creator Steven Moffat has a bone to pick.

Steven Moffat - Jonny Lee Miller
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images / ABC

It was earlier announced that CBS would plot a modern-day Sherlock Holmes pilot to feature the titular hero (as played by UK actor Jonny Lee Miller) re-imagined for the present, complete with it’s own version of the classic “Watson” character for fall 2012.  Of course, what sounded like a reasonable pitch for a brave new series had many BBC viewers asking themselves, “say, didn’t Steven Moffat already do that, and much better?”

There are of course key differences between CBS’ upcoming pilot ‘Elementary‘ and Moffat’s well-acclaimed BBC drama, most notably the CBS version setting its scene in New York City (Holmes himself is still British), and his Watson to be played by ‘Charlie’s Angels’ actress Lucy Liu, but now the ‘Sherlock‘ creator has spoken out against the upcoming adaptation.

Speaking to the BBC News, Moffat acknowledged the differences saying,”It isn’t a version of our show…They’ve just decided to go off and do one of their own, having been turned down by us to do an adaptation of our version. So how do you think I feel about it? ‘Annoyed’ is in there.”  Of course, ‘Elementary’ isn’t the first American series to “draw inspiration” or even directly import from existing series, as Moffat went on to note some of the pitfalls:

The bigger problem for us with ‘Elementary’ is, what if it’s terrible? What if it’s awful? Then it degrades the brand…I remember there was a legitimate American version made of ‘Coupling,’ actually adapted from our version. It was terrible and it was a disaster and it did sort of diminish the original. So if there’s this completely unrelated rogue version of ‘Sherlock’ going around and it’s bad, it can be bad for us.”

In spite of the similarities, Moffat also acknowledges that they don’t own the property of Sherlock Holmes, though cautions that ‘Sherlock’ has included a number of original elements to the mythos that shouldn’t find their way into the CBS pilot, lest legal action ensue.

What say you, ‘Sherlock’ fans?  Is ‘Elementary’ too clearly aping the Steven Moffat adaptation, or have you deduced that having two Sherlock Holmes on TV will be better than one?  Eloquently sum up your own analysis in the comments below!

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