Having a keen sense of perception and high I.Q hasn’t saved Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) from falling prey to the temptations of the world. That is why Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) is showing up at his home on this fine morning. Fresh out of rehab, Sherlock’s father has engaged Miss Watson as his son’s sober companion to be sure that he doesn’t fall back into bad habits. Before she threw herself into her new line of work, Joan was a surgeon and a good one at that, yet she has never met anyone quite like Sherlock. His to-the-point observations hold nothing back and much to her chagrin, Sherlock pegs Joan before they’ve had a chance to exchange pleasantries.
A London to New York transplant, Sherlock’s keen observations have not gone without notice by Scotland Yard and various police entities which is why he now works for the NYPD as a consulting detective 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 may be unable to 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
err, I mean understand it them. In the bright, sparkling wit of Bollywood’s
version of Pride & Prejudice I
see only creativity and it proudly has a place on my shelf. In short, I don’t
mind shows or film re-tooling themselves 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 has done. They’ve not only messed with Sherlock’s head,
they also swapped out the male version of Watson for an opinionated female
doctor and moved Sherlock across the pond.
Exchanging so much of the “comfortable” cannons of Doyle’s studious Holmes may not set well with all would-be viewers and that’s okay. For my own preferences of TV drama, I found this Sherlock hard to resist. The cases are similar to any crime show you put it up against but that’s not what makes this stand out – it’s the quirky dialogue and character traits. Every detail is considered in putting together Sherlock’s character; his decidedly British ancestry is present even when plopped in the middle of NYC. From his wardrobe (talk about quirky socks!) to Watson’s habitual annoyance over his appearing in her room to wake her, Miller is quite good as Holmes. He adds his own pizazz to the role and it somehow works. While I don’t agree with all that writer’s did to this iconic character, I think by making his drug addiction a prominent part of the stories, what they were attempting to do was bring him down a level – to show that he’s not just the man who thinks of everyone else as “minions.” Using recreational drugs wasn’t something that he “controlled” no matter his brilliant mind. As a result, this makes him vulnerable and he is more transparent to Watson and her attempts to keep him from “falling.”
Now, onto what is probably the biggest debate; the female version of Watson. I’m not going to fib, I liked Lucy’s portrayal. Speaking of personality types, I don’t know how she stacks up however as a creative change, again this works. Season one doesn’t wander into a romantic connotation and if I had a preference, I’d want to keep it this way. They're better as working counterparts and adding in any romantic or unrequited feelings would make things awkward plus follow nearly every other crime duo on television. Making comparisons between this and its British counterpart, I have to say that creator and writer Robert Doherty (Medium) has pushed us to look at the character of Holmes (and Watson!) differently… and it was good. Miller is a portrait of Sherlock Holmes we’ve not seen before. Not from the more recent takes anyway. He’s still crazy eccentric yet there are cracks in his armor that all prove he does care – he even shows it more often than any portrayal I’ve seen. 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") and of course, the same humor and sense of friendship is still there, with perhaps an even stronger bond.
(Be Aware: several sexual situations "trash" the show but are scattered about the 20-plus episodes. Watson wakes up to find Sherlock has had overnight guests [playing up his casual attitude about sex and also his claims of doing so for more scientific purposes] and there are 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 rated TV14.)