It’s Elementary

Elementary, CBS

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.

What Now? Fall’s New Shows

Every fall networks try to peddle their news shows hoping that they find a wide audience. Often my favorite shows like Dollhouse don’t make it very far, but shows that I abandon after three episodes, like Bones, continue for years. It’s why I like to get into established shows even though each year I try out a few new ones. Here’s my take on the new Fall shows. We’ll see what lasts on what doesn’t.

Best Bets

Elementary

This is by far the show I am most excited about this Fall. This modern day tale of Sherlock Holmes transplants Holmes to New York City and played by Jonny Lee Miller. Fresh out of rehab, he and his live in sober companion become consultants for the police department. But here’s the twist: Watson is played by Lucy Liu and she has a past of her own. These two must overcome their pasts to move forward with their future.

Miller is a fantastic actor and will add so much to the role of Holmes. I really look forward to see the chemistry between him and Liu. But don’t expect to see the two romantically involved. Instead they will have romances of their own that will be complicated by their living situation. I find this a very fresh approach as women and men as co-workers.

Chicago Fire

Jesse Spencer as a fireman.

Well, really I need to say more than that. This Dick Wolf creation (Law & Order) delves into the lives of the Chicago Fire Department. Part procedural, part character oriented, this drama promises to be more than just eye candy. I am excited to see something other than a police procedural, reality TV show, or worn out sitcom this season. Chicago Fire should add flame to a boring Fall season.

WTF?

Revolution

15 years after the world looses electricity a group of survivors try to restore power to the earth. This J.J. Abrams vehicle sounds as interesting as Alcatraz and just as short lived. The show will focus on the quest to turn the power back on, but not on how or why it was turned off.

Millions of questions spring to mind. How can all the power go off? In 15 years why haven’t they used water wheels and such for rudimentary electricity? Why does the preview show someone with electricity? Where did they find all those swords?

I remember when JJ Abrams made good TV and that ended with the third season of Alias. His radical premises may have charmed some, but I have no patience for contrived plots and confusing story lines.

Animal Practice

This comedy about a veterinary practice features an ad that shows vets and techs rushing with an injured dog on a gurney being check our by a monkey. It all goes down hill from there. The show center around a man who works for his ex he now runs the veterinary hospital. On of the cast even told Entertainment Weekly that they knew the show was a long shot. If the cast feels that way, what is the point of the show’s existence?

On the Fence

The New Normal

From the mind of Ryan Murphy comes a semi-biographical tale of two gay men and a surrogate. Add to an already tense situation a racist grandmother and the show has the potential to make a statement. Even though the show presents the liberal and conservative sides of the gay parent argument, the show is already being banned by certain stations. You have two crowds for this show: those that want it gone and those that want it to succeed because of the egalitarian content. This show will succeed or fail not based on the quality of the show, but because of the hype.

Sherlock Continues to Entertain

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

now on: Blu-ray, DVD, & combo pack

 

The game is afoot again in Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows. Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law) come face to face with Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). Watson arrives at Holmes’s house for his stag party, Holmes has connected the dots between a string of crimes and Moriarty. Because Watson is getting married, Holmes tries to keep Watson out of the game that he and Moriarty are playing. But Moriarty knows that taking out Watson will hurt Holmes more than hurting Holmes himself. Holmes shanghais Watson’s honeymoon in order to keep the Watsons safe. Noomi Rapace joins the adventure this time as a gypsy looking for her missing brother who happens to be working for the professor. The party follows  leads to Paris and beyond.

Like the previous movie, the characters are wonderful. It is great to see Watson come into his own and be able to show the skills he has learned from Holmes. Downey Jr. portrays Holmes wonderfully, injecting humor into a vey serious character. Rapace’s gypsy is a welcome addition.  Her character was both strong and vulnerable. Reducing Rachel McAdams’ role works well, not because the character is flawed, but because of McAdams’ subpar acting. The only other character issue was Harris. Harris seemed not to be able to find a middle ground with Moriarty; he is either overacting or underwhelming. The saving grace for his character is in the final scenes as he and Holmes go head to head in a thinking wart.

There are two big drawbacks to the movie. The first being that the movie covers so much ground.  The movie encompasses the entire Moriarty tale including, to fans of the stories, a very familiar ending. The story could have spanned several movies, but Guy Ritchie was trying to create a comprehensive tale with finality instead of just another sequel lead in.

The second drawback is the shift in tone. The original film was very much a buddy/detective story. The second movie shifts to an action film. While this keeps the movie exciting and propels the plot forward, the witty banter between Holmes and Watson has been greatly reduced. This shift makes the sequel a different kind of movie. Some say it was better than the first one, but personally I do not agree.

Extras:

The Blu-ray only version contains minimal special features limited to three features with behind the scenes look on the two friends, their nemesis, and look at making Holmesavision.

Bottom Line:

A great follow up to a franchise that should have another sequel.