‘Elementary’ – A QRE Review

by Garv on October 2, 2012

ElementaryElementary – CBS, Thursday nights, 10pm EST

Sherlock Holmes and his colleague, Dr. Watson, have been portrayed in countless plays, television shows and movies. Most are modeled after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories. Holmes was the star of four novels and 56 short stories, and those tales have inspired playwrights and screenwriters alike to try and capture the sleuth from 221B Baker Street, London.

With two successful and recent revamps of the Holmes character (Robert Downey Jr’s films, and ‘Sherlock’, from BBC One), it’s not surprising that another television network has joined in the Sherlock Holmes fest. And since the BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ is set in modern times, this is sure to draw comparisons between itself and CBS’ latest offering, ‘Elementary’. And because you’ll be able to read about those similarities in plenty of other places, I’ll do my best to avoid them.

‘Elementary’ changes more than the time setting of the original Sherlock Holmes tales. Instead of London, the setting is New York City. We eventually learn that Holmes left London for one reason or another, but he is familiar with a local police detective with whom he had worked at Scotland yard. His address, at least in the premiere, is also not 221B Baker Street. I can only guess that this was his address when he lived in London.

But the main difference, and one we’ve not seen before, is the absence of Dr. John Watson. Instead, we have former surgeon Joan Watson, played by Lucy Liu. We learn in the first episode that Holmes (Johnny Lee Miller) is overcoming a drug addiction, and Watson has been hired by Holmes’ father to accompany him at all times in order to, for lack of a better term, babysit him and make sure he doesn’t and up back on drugs.

Holmes is played as he usually is – arrogant, yet brilliant. The powers of deduction are there, as well as the resourcefulness (he admits to learning several facts from the use of Google) that we’ve come to expect from him. Watson, as usual, is along for the ride, and quickly becomes both enamored and exasperated.

‘Elementary’ isn’t the best take on Sherlock Holmes ever, but, in my opinion, it’s far from the worst. Miller plays a wonderful Holmes, and he and Liu have a chemistry that, at least in this first episode, seems as if it would fit Holmes & Watson.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it will last long; at least not in the Thursday night 10:00 time slot. I will, however, continue to DVR the show and keep watching. If you’re a casual mystery fan and are tired of ‘CSI:Everywhere’, give ‘Elementary’ a try. You might just like it.

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