October 10, 2013 20 Comments

Like the start of every new TV season, 2012 introduced a number of new shows; many of which were crime dramas, among those was Elementary. It’s not the cases that are different from its crime show peers so much as the methods by which the solving happens. The details that lead to arrests are things only Sherlock Holmes notices. Without question, this is what makes Elementary fun.

Elementary, Season One (2012) CBS TV Show Review

Having a keen sense of perception and high I.Q doesn’t save Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) from falling prey to temptation. That is why Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) shows up at his home on this fine morning. Fresh out of rehab, Sherlock’s father engages Miss Watson as his son’s sober companion. Before she throws herself into her new line of work, Joan was a surgeon and a good one at that. But today teaches her she’s never met anyone like Sherlock. His to-the-point observations hold nothing back and much to her chagrin, Sherlock pegs Joan before they exchange pleasantries.

‘ELEMENTARY,’ SEASON ONE (2012). Jonny Lee Miller plays the iconic Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle's detective. All text is © Rissi JC / RissiWrites.com

A London to New York transplant, Scotland Yard and various police entities use Sherlock’s skills, which is how he now works for the NYPD. This under the watchful eye of Captain Gregson (Adian Quinn). Along with Watson, who is always close by to urge Sherlock to attend support groups and share his feelings. However, Sherlock is generally happy to ignore Watson, and instead keeps busy solving  many a puzzling case. It’s not until a ghost from his past reappears that Sherlock may again be in danger of a relapse he not recover from.

If you haven’t already had a conversation with me about this, let me say this before getting into specific thoughts on this new TV show. I’m the girl who is sad when beloved television characters die but come to admire, err, understand it. In the bright, sparkling wit of Bollywood’s version of Pride & Prejudice I see only creativity. In short, I don’t mind shows or film re-tooling to adapt to a modern audience nor do I think it’s sacrilegious for writer’s to offer an alternative to the original material. That is what CBS’ recent television drama, Elementary does. They’ve not only mess with Sherlock’s head, they also swap out the male version of Watson for an opinionated female doctor and move Sherlock across the pond.  

‘ELEMENTARY,’ SEASON ONE (2012) #FWarchives Click To Tweet
‘ELEMENTARY,’ SEASON ONE (2012). Jonny Lee Miller plays the iconic Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle's detective. All text is © Rissi JC / RissiWrites.com

Exchanging so much of the “comfortable” canons of Doyle’s studious Holmes may not set well with everyone, and that’s okay. I did find this Sherlock hard to resist. The cases are similar to any peer you put it up against but that’s not what makes this stand out; it’s the quirky dialogue and character traits. From his wardrobe (talk about quirky socks!) to Watson’s habitual annoyance over his appearance in her room, Miller is good as Holmes. He adds pizazz to the role and it somehow works. While I don’t agree with all that writer’s do to this character, I think what they attempt to do is bring him down; to show that he’s not just the man who thinks of everyone else as “minions.” Drug use isn’t something that he “controls” no matter his brilliant mind. As a result, this makes him vulnerable and he’s more transparent to Watson.

Now, onto what is probably the biggest debate; the female version of Watson. I’m not going to fib, I like Lucy’s portrayal. Speaking of personality types, I don’t know how she stacks up however as a creative change, this works. Season one doesn’t wander into a romantic connotation and if I had a preference, I’d keep it this way. They’re better as working counterparts and adding in romantic or unrequited feelings will make things awkward, and follow nearly every other crime TV duo. Making comparisons between this and its British counterpart, I have to say that creator Robert Doherty (Medium) pushes us to look at the character of Holmes (and Watson!) differently. All of which is good.

The crime solving also has a more “old-fashioned” distinction attached to it; the cases are solved through Holmes observations rather than relying on snazzy technology. These elements are what makes Elementary stand apart. Miller and Liu create some nice moments (especially when he opens up to her prompting and the show is more fun once Watson becomes “the student”). Additionally, the same humor and sense of friendship is still there, with perhaps an even stronger bond.  

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)

You can find Elementary, season one digitally on Amazon Video

CONTENT: several sexual situations “trash” the show but scatter about the 20-plus episodes. Watson wakes up to find Sherlock has had overnight guests [playing up his casual attitude about sex and claims of doing so for more scientific purposes]; there’s a few “flashbacks” to “morning after” scenes. There are some sexual innuendoes and crude conversations. Various episodes naturally have victims die in multiple ways; some are poisoned, others shot, stabbed or hung. One particularly “graphic” crime cuts the victim open while hanging them from a tripod and draining their blood. Fortunately this happened off-camera. Profanity is the norm (da*n, h*ll) along with a few British slang. The show is TV14.

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

All posts


  • Rosie Wilson October 10, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Ah, Elementary. I like this one too, however, if it's ever up against the BBC show Sherlock, then, well, I'm going to pick Sherlock. lol Nonetheless, I like the twists the writer has thrown in. I'm with you, their relationship is fine as it is. Season 2 just started up a few weeks ago, and I'm happy to say if they have a relationship beyond friendship, it's brotherly/sisterly. :-) CBS writers are fabulous when it comes to wit and humor. Great review!

    • Rissi October 11, 2013 at 11:48 PM

      Yay! I'm delighted when finding fellow fans of shows that are… "controversial." This one certainly fits that bill, however I think it's great. I like the "intelligent" look at crime-solving, instead of "gritty."

      If the writer's put Sherlock and Watson together romantically, I don't know… that would seem "easy" and in the end be awkward. It's one thing to FINALLY put Castle and Beckett together (who were always attracted to each other), it's another to put two people who are nothing but good friends together.

      CBS writer's are grand when it comes to humor! Love that about so many of their shows. :)

  • Kristin October 10, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Even though I'm a Sherlock Holmes fan (and completely obsessed with BBC's Sherlock), I haven't had much interest in watching this show…but now you have piqued my interest! :) My dad, who is also a fan, saw one episode and liked it.

    • Rissi October 11, 2013 at 11:52 PM

      Many fans of the "original" Sherlock don't like this show, Kristin. I cannot judge it based on that, however in my reading while putting this together, I discovered that Doyle wrote Holmes as an addict. That was a shock.

      Hope, if you do watch it, you end up liking it! Glad your dad liked the pilot; mine liked the show, and surprisingly, he even watched the whole series! ;)

  • Kate October 10, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    I really like Elementary! I've read that there won't be any romance between Holmes and Watson, they will simply be friends (thank goodness!). Johnny Lee Miller is able to carry the quirkiness of the character really well. He does as well as Robert Downy Jr.

    • Rissi October 11, 2013 at 11:55 PM

      Me, too, Kate! Another *high five* to you also! It's fun to find fellow fans among such a "controversial" show; honestly, I didn't think many of you would have liked this one. :)

      Thank goodness! Many a good show has been ruined by putting partners together and then breaking fans heart. This show doesn't need to ruin a good friendship – plus I think that would be too "easy."

      You called that right; like RDJ, Miller plays this role quite well. Have you seen him in the Austen period films? He's good in those also. :)

  • Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com October 11, 2013 at 3:56 AM

    I keep meaning to try this.

    • Rissi October 11, 2013 at 11:55 PM

      Hope if you do, you find it fun, Juju! :)

  • Jack October 11, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    I didn't think I'd like the show, and while it had things I disliked in it, I did enjoy it. It had a new twist to the stories and was fun to watch. I'm even going to give season two a chance.

    • Rissi October 11, 2013 at 11:59 PM

      I would agree, Jack. Sure there were things I didn't love, however for the most part, I adored this show. It's a change in the sense that it's more of an intelligent look at crime-solving than the usual brawn. It's nice.

      I'll definitely be checking out S2. Cannot wait. :)

  • Renee (SteelerGirl83) October 11, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    I think this is the only CBS show that I watch other than the Price Is Right so that's saying a lot! I love that Sherlock and Watson are just friends, it's totally possible in real life so I like to see it in books and TV too! I really enjoy the series, but like Rosie said in her comment, I'd pick BBC's Sherlock a million times over. :)

    • Rissi October 12, 2013 at 12:04 AM

      Renee, I SO agree about Sherlock and Watson just remaining friends. I think that by making Watson female, eventually romantically entangling them would just be wrong. That would be one big common cliché that CBS writer's would do wrong.

      Sherlock does benefit from the more clever writing. However, there are a lot of differences and if I went over them with a fine tooth comb, I think there'd be some things I'd pick as "better" in this show, and vice versa. ;)

  • Kate October 12, 2013 at 3:45 AM

    I'm a huge fan of this Sherlock Holmes adaptation. I didn't watch it from the very beginning and it took me a few episodes to get into it, but once I did… I'm a lifer. As many seasons as they produce, I'll watch. I love that Watson is an American female and I love the fact that they are just really good friends. I hope that doesn't change as the show goes on. I think she's still an ISFJ as in the book and I would peg Holmes as an INTP with a really well developed sensor side.

    • Rissi October 15, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      *HIGH FIVE*

      That's my reaction also, Kate. I'm quite fond of this CBS adaptation. Right there with you; so long as they keep putting out the DVD sets, I'm there. I actually watched the pilot on TV and enjoyed it a lot – as with nearly every show, it's only gotten stronger since then. :)

      Casting Watson as a woman was great. It's a whole new perspective and while the "natural" progression would be to put the two of them together romantically, I'm hoping fervently they won't. That'd ruin a lot. I think the "original" Holmes is quite different than JLM's, however I still like him. He's bright but also more "human" than the usual interpretation of the iconic detective.

      Glad you stopped by, Kate.

  • Birdie October 12, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    Good review! I do really love Elementary. For me, the choice between it and the BBC's Sherlock wouldn't be so very hard: I'd choose Elementary. I love that you can feel a connection to Sherlock easier in this. And I really, really like Lucy Liu as Watson and the friendship between her and Sherlock.

    • Rissi October 15, 2013 at 5:53 PM

      Me, too, Birdie! …and to think I thought there was "no one" else who thought this show was good. How wrong I was. ;)

      Choosing between the two is hard. I think there are things that are good about both and each have certain elements they do better than their competition. With Elementary, I love how Lucy plays Watson and am glad they're "just friends." And like you, Sherlock is easier to relate to here and that's really nice. He has actually showed compassion at times where BBC's Sherlock wouldn't have.

      Glad to get your perspective, Birdie. :)

  • Little Lady October 20, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    OK. I love Elementary. It's addicting. Sometimes it's a bit gritty. Don't like the opening introduction to Sherlock at all….but still. I love a creative spin on an old classic! Keep up your review magic girl! Wish I had internet consistently so I could keep up better!!! L O V E your new blog style though!!! SO STINKING CUTE!

    • Rissi October 23, 2013 at 3:26 AM

      YES! Another fan! I'm loving all this gushing about Elementary in this comment thread. It rocks. ;)

      I watched the pilot over a year ago (on TV) then the rest on DVD just this fall, so I don't remember everything about that first episode, however I tend to agree, Micah; the intro was a bit "off." As with every show, things gradually got better and I'm glad for that. Spins on old classics are always entertaining plus it allows us to see new sides of the story.

      Thanks for the comments on the design! I like it, too. I've been meaning to go with a new header but haven't found a new pic I like. ;)

  • […] ELEMENTARY (2012) – another one I really enjoyed, and am sad to see cancelled; it’s a contemporary […]

  • […] Sweeny, an executive producer for Elementary (CBS’ modern and now cancelled Sherlock Holmes drama) will write Watson, for CBS. This show is said to focus on Dr. Watson a year after the death of his […]

  • Leave a Reply

    (Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

    Bonjour and Welcome!

    Welcome | thank you for visiting and reading. if you like, you are invited to join our conversations and follow along – join us.  You’re most welcome.
    Read more about Finding Wonderland

    ps: please excuse the “disorder.” you can read more about Finding Wonderland’s changes, new follow options and why archive posts are a mess in my “Disorder + Feedback” post!

    Finding Wonderland Elsewhere!

    Finding Wonderland in your Inbox!

    Subscribe! Have Finding Wonderland's new content sent to your inbox; sign up for our once (or twice) monthly round up of new content. If you'd like to have this newsletter sent to your inbox, you can enter your email address here. Please note, this does require a sign-up confirmation via email, and that email may be sent to a junk or spam folder.

    RSS Feed

    Enter your email address:

    Shop our Etsy Store



    Some of the links on this blog are affiliate links, which means that if you click on a product link, I may receive (a small) compensation. This compensation comes at no additional cost to you.

    Rissi JC (RissiWrites.com) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

    All written content (unless noted) is © Copyright Rissi JC and Finding Wonderland (RissiWrites.com).


    %d bloggers like this: