Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sherlock Holmes and Elementary CBS #Review


The show Elementary stars Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr Joan Watson. It's on CBS. According to Wikipedia, "in Elementary, Holmes is a former consultant to Scotland Yard, and an addict who travels to New York City to check into a rehabilitation center, and stays on in Brooklyn with a newly-found "sober companion" Joan Watson." A "sober companion" provides one-on-one assistance to newly recovering drug addicts and alcoholics.

I was pleasantly surprised by Elementary. I hadn't expected to like it, since I think one of the major attractions of the written series was the homoerotic relationship between Holmes and Watson. That aspect would, by default, be missing from a Sherlock Holmes story with a female Watson as sidekick. I've read a few articles about the show and so far, it seems that CBS isn't going for a romantic relationship between them. Good to hear. I'd be disappointed if that happened. These two characters belong in one another's orbits, and there should be sexual tension, but a physical relationship would spoil the angst. The tension is what keeps readers (and watchers) coming back. How well that will play out with these two characters has yet to be seen.
Holmes and Watson
by Sidney Paget

A plus was Aidan Quinn as Captain Tobias Gregson of the NYPD, who takes Holmes seriously and listens to him. I dislike shows where the police hire a consultant and then don't take them seriously. (Perception on TNT comes close to that, which I hope they rectify in season two.)

I can't help but compare this show to other Sherlock Holmes stories. The recent Sherlock films starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law bring these characters to rip roaring naughty life, and play up the sensual, so-close-they're-all-but-lovers relationship of the two men. Benedict Cumberbatch's instense characterization on the PBS version of Sherlock won me over within minutes. I'm still debating Jonny Lee Miller's portrayal, but I'll give the series a shot. Lucy Liu has her own intensity, and I've admired her work for years. I hope she develops her laid back dimension of the character of Watson into a stronger, more convincing emotional response. Martin Freeman's version of Dr Watson (on Sherlock) is distinctive and focused. The angst and grit of the Sherlock-Watson relationship takes a believable toll on him. So far, Liu's character seems mildly annoyed and befuddled by Holmes. Again, with one episode to judge, it's hard to tell. If anyone can pull this off, Liu can.

221b Baker Street
I hope the series lasts long enough to prove itself. I'm glad it's on CBS instead of NBC. At least it'll have a chance for success. If it was on NBC, no matter how good it was, it would probably last only one season -- I think NBC stands for Now Being Canceled. CBS has developed at least two other Sherlock Holmes series over the years (The Return of Sherlock Holmes in 1987, and Sehrlock Holmes Returns in 1993 - both contemporary in nature). I think they'll give it a good chance. Someone at CBS has a clue that Sherlock is a winner.

While I'm far from ready to claim Elementary as favorite new show, it does get honorable mention. 
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img credits: Elementary © CBS (fair use for review)
Watson and Holmes by Sidney Paget (Public Domain)
The Sherlock Holmes Museum sign © The Sherlock Holmes Museum 221b Baker Street, London, England 


  1. I'm still on the fence but it did show better than I expected. I like how Watson and Sherlock are forcing each other outside their comfort zones.

    Will watch a few more episodes to see how it goes.

    1. That's what I thought too, Beth. Wait a bit and see. I'm willing to give it a shot. ;)

  2. Kayelle,

    I did watch the first episode and thought it was well done, and a great concept, except I could hardly understand Holmes. It wasn't his British accent, but there was either something wrong with the sound or he was speaking in a low tone, but he was almost unintelligible and it was annoying to have to struggle to hear him. I wonder if anyone else had a similar issue with the show. Great review. And I loved Aidan Quinn, too.

    Marilyn Baron

    1. You know, I had to turn it up myself. I figured it was his accent, but maybe it wasn't. I'll be watching for that in the next episode. Good point, Marilyn.

  3. Always a pleasure to meet a Sherlockian!

    I too loved the pilot episode. Lucy Liu was surprisingly good as Joan Watson. Like you, I too am not sure about Miller's performance yet.


    1. Having seen a second episode, I find I still have trouble figuring out what he's saying. I think some of it is the sound, and some of it is his accent coupled with his fast delivery. I'm thinking about turning on the captions so I can keep up. Would rather not, since they tend to be distracting, but I think I'm missing things and don't like that either. But Lucy Liu is very good in this role.