I was asked the other night, in light of fans of BBC One’s Sherlock frothing at the mouth over CBS’ Elementary, why there isn’t room for more than one [in this case modern] reinterpretation of Sherlock Holmes. That is to say: the question was why fans of one couldn’t be fans of the other as well.
Potential infringement issues aside (Sherlock Holmes is a public domain character and this subject is touchy), I have to say, although there isn’t any reason a person couldn’t like both programs, it seems unlikely. In my response I reminded the person that “fan” is short for “fanatic” and then likened the whole issue to churches. People join a church. They really like it there, try to persuade others to visit in the hopes those people will join too. And if another group comes along and builds a new church just up the street, the adherents to the first church are generally not very welcoming. In fact, they’re angry at the encroachment. Their church is the best. There is no need for another.
And people don’t typically join more than one church. A few might, but those people are rare and are generally looking for something else entirely. For example, they are the people who find God in numerous places and are willing to worship Him wherever and whenever. In this instance, they are the core fans of Sherlock Holmes as a character, not just fans of a particular take. (Yes, I did just, in fact, make Sherlock Holmes analogous to God; he’d be pleased.) Even still, these people are likely to prefer one house of worship over another, though they’ll make the rounds regularly to get their fill.
Meanwhile, purists will already have taken issue with modernizing Holmes. Further removing him from London to New York may rankle even more. Who can tell?
To summarize: there is room for more churches, provided one has the cash to purchase the real estate and the resources to build. But attendance is not guaranteed, not for any show. As for me, I’ll see who and what gets delivered before passing judgment.