Until recently, the most clearly Holmes-inspired character on American TV was Hugh Laurie’s Dr. House, from his punning name to his deductive skills (in diagnostic medicine) to his addiction to painkillers. It’s probably no coincidence that, just as Fox’s House left the air in 2012, we got CBS’ Elementary, with a Holmes whose chief character trait is that he’s a recovering addict. (His Watson, played by Lucy Liu, started out as a live-in drug counselor meant to keep Holmes clean, but she became enamored of sleuthing and has gone pro as Holmes’ consulting sidekick.)
Miller still plays Holmes as a Brit, though the character lives in contemporary New York City. That gives him access to a melting pot of criminality and a host of temptations to make Watson worry. Miller plays him like a man who hasn’t slept in years, jittery with a need for constant mental stimulation. Of course, with that posh accent, he already sounds smarter than everyone in New York anyway. In a nice twist on the Conan Doyle canon, his one love, Irene Adler, also turns out to be his nemesis, Moriarty (Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer). So Miller’s Holmes has found plenty of ways to have his vulnerabilities exploited and tested.