The game is afoot! CBS’s newest police procedural takes a Sherlock Holmes spin. The series premier of Elementary aired last Thursday bringing in a very different Holmes and Watson to skeptic fans. Can Elementary hold its own? Watson is a girl?
I, personally, was very excited to see Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu take on the roles of Holmes and Watson. They are both fabulous actors and they bring a lot to their characters. I have always been a Sherlock fan. Jeremy Brett is my favorite Holmes, and Jude Law won me over as Watson. But Miller and Liu carve out a niche in the Sherlock Holmes fandom.
Elementary takes the detective in a different direction. Confronting Holmes’ drug problem head-on, Watson is a sober live in companion hired by Sherlock’s father. As ex-surgeon, Watson herself has a deep, complex past that lends to a more developed character. In order to start again after rehab, Sherlock has been shipped to a crappy apartment building in New York City, and he is doing the same thing he loved to do in England: solve crimes. Watson goes with Holmes while he is consulting for the police department and finds that she loves the investigating herself. The two become a team on more than just a “say no to drugs” level.
As any police procedural viewers are presented with weekly cases, and Sherlock helps solve them. These original cases do not yet copy those of the classic Holmes tales but puts him in new, modern situations. In the pilot, Holmes is confronted with a wife killer who uses an unusual method to kill his wife. Using keen observations, psychological profiling, and leaps of logic, Holmes is able to see things that the police have missed. But this talent comes without a price.
Sherlock is a brash but charming eccentric detective. Miller plays Holmes’ ticks with grace and finesse and viewers marvel over his dedications the same way one marvels at Spencer Read when he comes out with some amazing fact. Holmes will do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of the case including getting verbally rough with a witness. But Miller manages to make you like his Holmes because we can clearly see the driving force: solving the puzzle. With a zeal that puts Gregory House to shame, Holmes’ obsession is the puzzles in the crimes, and now with out the drugs he needs them more than ever.
Liu is the more reserved Watson who has a fiercely independent streak. But she harbors a secret past that Holmes and the viewers are salivating to hear about. She’s not your average happy go lucky Watson. She gives a nice balance of stability while Holmes bounces around the room, while having her own dark side. There is great chemistry between the two and it’s great to watch them work off each other.
It is hard for many people not to compare this with the BBC Sherlock, a drama that was nominated for several Emmys. But the two shows are so different. One is a police procedural while the other is British detective story. As for a comparison, all I can give you is that Elementary has the more likable Holmes while Sherlock has better writing.
Elementary is a joy to watch and gets your brain thinking. It has a unique quirky side that does not diminish the dramatic aspects. It is in fact, my dear Watson, one of the best new shows on television.
- Elementary Premiere: Modern Day Sherlock Takes On NYC (rr.com)
- Elementary Series Premiere Review (girishkumar.me)
- A New Twist On An Old Story of Sherlock Holmes-Elementary (brouhaha-access.com)
- Fall-TV Check-in: “Elementary” (utsandiego.com)