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.
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.
RELATED TV SHOW REVIEW | ‘PERSON OF INTEREST,’ SEASON ONE‘ELEMENTARY,’ SEASON ONE (2012) #FWarchives Click To Tweet
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.