Sherlock Holmes. The original crime solver. Granted he was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  in the 1800s but nowadays we take what we can get. Falling into the public domain was great for this timeless character and CBS picked up the series for the upcoming fall season. The sad thing is that this show is getting more and more attention for its controversy instead of its quality. 

Across the pond BBC airs a Sherlock mini-series, featuring three episodes a season by Dr. Who Executive Producers Mark Gatniss and Steven Moffat. The internet loves this show, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock and Holmes respectively. The show is great, there’s no argument from me. 

So when CBS announced that their “re-envisioning” of Sherlock Holmes would have a female Watson, people were confused. I’m not sure if they were confused that television creators can do whatever they want in their shows or that Watson was an Asian Woman but in my observations people were upset either way. Nothing ever copies its source material directly, especially if they’re sourcing a book that was written over one hundred years ago.

Elementary stars Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Watson. These two are powerhouses on screen. I never thought Lucy would come to TV but this is one of those iconic roles for the history books. If the show goes well, she gets the kudos for owning a role that breaks stereotypes. If it goes badly she gets a gold star for trying. Her IMDB page will continue to fill up with hit movie roles. This is what I like to call a win-win.

Miller was most recently featured in Dark Shadows alongside Johnny Depp and the short lived show Eli Stone on ABC. He can act. He as a swoon-worthy accent. What’s not to love? 

To be honest, I don’t watch a lot of CBS. The network has some good comedies and a lot of NCIS and CSI. They need something fresh to add to their selection of dramas and I can see how it was a risk to have a show like Elementary in their repertoire.  It’s new. It’s different. Onto the pilot.

The show opens like most crime shows do, someone is attacked and their life hangs in the balance. I’m not sure this was the best way to start a pilot, but it seems to fit in with the rest of the storyline.  

In this retelling Joan Watson is Sherlock Holmes sober companion- basically forced to watch Sherlock so he doesn’t return to drugs or alcohol or whatever he was in rehab for. Sherlock is living at his father’s house in New York City and they make it clear that Sherlock’s father has hired her. If Sherlock slips up he’s out of house and home which is his incentive to keep her around.

One of the things that always bugged me about Sherlock is that people are so floored by his outstanding powers of deduction. He makes some good deductions about Joan and she wants to know how he came to his conclusions. As much as Sherlock might love being alone, he needs other people to complete his process. Saying things aloud, pointing observations out to others- it’s all part of how he connects to people.

Insisting that Joan come with him into the crime scene is just one of many examples.  The Crime of the Week picks up with a home invasion/missing person’s case. The local police chief is an old acquaintance of Holmes’ and he allows him to consult on the case, which seemed pretty weak to me but apparently Sherlock was on Scotland Yard’s Anti-Terrorism Unit, which is major accomplishment. And would be plausibly memorable.  A woman is missing and Sherlock quickly deduces that she:
  1. Has had plastic surgery
  2. Is missing a jewelry box
  3. Is not missing but dead
  4. Is in the panic room.

I don’t guess, I observe. I guess me and Sherlock do have something in common. But I digress.

We don’t really see that much onto the “police officer’s view” since he nor Joan are actually detectives, so the Detective on the case does the interrogation of the husband off-camera. Sherlock watches the husband and determines he is not the killer. Making Joan a former doctor definitely helps the investigative process. Instead of Sherlock saying “I know I’m right” constantly, he can turn to his handy dandy medical professional. Joan also catches on quickly. Sherlock approves. I approve.

Not to give the rest of the story away I’ll leave you with some of my stray thoughts:

  • “Go wait in the car” LOL
  • Tickets to the Opera. Great.
  • If the crime is solved halfway through the episode it’s not really solved.
  • Bag of rice to save wet electronics is a great trick, readers.  

So far Sherlock is pretty annoying. But I think he’s the puppet master pulling the strings, that role has to be a little annoying by definition. Living up to the name “Sherlock Holmes” is a lot of pressure and I hope this show can pull it off. I’ve definitely seen worse pilots but this cycle of asshole > apology > asshole > apology needs to stop. Sherlock is who he is.  On the Joan front they haven’t seemed to hit their stride with her just yet, she seems to be all over the place but then again this is a pilot and it’s owed a little breathing room.

I really hope they bring in more elements from the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle piece and that the reason that Sherlock left London was because of “The Woman”. They need to keep this show fresh and different to draw it away from the typical crime shows out there and delving into the Sherlock history would be a great place to start.

So far I’ll give it a B. I wasn’t particularly wowed by any of his deductions and they’re still in the awkward stage before their partnership really clicks.  I’ll definitely tune into the show on Thursdays.

You can catch Elementary on CBS, Thursdays this Fall.


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