Have American’s cracked the case of translating British Drama?

In my previous post, I discussed television comedy in translation across cultures. In this post, I will continue the television in translation topic, but will be discussing the translation of drama. Charlotte Frew led the discussion of how drama operates across cultures, locations, and nationality in her lecture ‘Sherlock and Elementary: Representing Englishness in Television Drama’.

Sir Author Conan Doyle’s story of Sherlock Holmes has been adapted many times for different mediums; such as television and film. Perhaps the most recent, and well known, would be the British, and later American, television adaptations of the famous tale.

The British BBC adaptation, premiering in 2010, tells the tale of the sleuth, and his partner, Dr. John Watson solving crimes in collaboration with Scotland Yard, in 21st century London. In the movie-length episodes, the characters are brought to life by the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. This adaptation has seen great success, both in Britain and abroad. At the 66th Annual Emmy Awards, Cumberbatch won Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie; Freeman secured the best Supporting Actor award and the series co-creator; and Steven Moffat, won an award for Writing for Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special for the season three finale, Sherlock: His Last Vow. The success of Sherlock on its own shores was not surprising, but what was surprising was its victory in America, especially amongst strong US competitors.

Sherlock (UK) staring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Source: http://harmonyradiantreads.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/show-you-must-watch-sherlock.html

Sherlock (UK) staring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Source: http://harmonyradiantreads.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/show-you-must-watch-sherlock.html

In 2012, the CBS American television adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes tale, Elementary, premiered in the US. This American take on the concept follows detective Sherlock Holmes, played by Jonny Lee Miller, living in New York, and his adventures with his partner Joan Watson. In this adaptation, the faithful companion is a female, played by Lucy Lui. Although the show faced a slew of criticism before and after airing, Elementary has beaten the odds and earned itself a +10 million audience and Emmy nominations.

American adaptation, 'Elementary'. Source: http://whatculture.com/tv/10-reasons-elementary-better-sherlock.php

American adaptation, ‘Elementary’. Source: http://whatculture.com/tv/10-reasons-elementary-better-sherlock.php

During my further reading, I have come across reviews of Elementary that I suggest you check out:

‘How Elementary silenced its critics’ by Frances Roberts: http://www.denofgeek.com/tv/elementary/24495/how-elementary-silenced-its-critics

‘Elementary, Sherlock and the adaptation problem’ be Gem Wheeler: http://www.denofgeek.com/tv/sherlock/29290/elementary-sherlock-and-the-adaptation-problem

‘Elementary vs. Sherlock: A critical review by Rozzychan: http://rozzychan.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/elementary-vs-sherlock-a-critical-review/

Reference List


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