Elementary Is, Unfortunately, A Good Name for This Show

Geek Culture

I tried to go into the premiere of CBS’ Elementary on Thursday night with an open mind but I was already concerned that this wouldn’t be a good version of Sherlock Holmes. I didn’t like the swap to contemporary New York City. Holmes stands out as an eccentric in his home environment. In New York City, eccentricity doesn’t faze them at all, so there would be little contrast between eccentric Holmes and the rest of the population.

I didn’t like the casting of Lucy Liu as Watson. Nothing against her gender but Watson is the everyman/woman stand-in for the audience. And Liu is not an everywoman. She stops traffic. It seemed like casting for sex appeal rather than for the part. I was indifferent to Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes. He seemed a little too pretty but I had a more open mind about him.

After I watched, these were my three conclusions:

1. Liu is wonderful as Joan Watson. She’s understated, intense, and views Holmes with just the right amount of disdain and curious respect. She does Watson proud. I apologize, Lucy Liu, for my doubts.

2. Miller is indeed too pretty and has too much overt sex appeal for Holmes. I didn’t need to know up front that Holmes has sex with goth girls, has great abs, and likes to walk around without his shirt. Holmes’ sex appeal comes from his restlessness, his razor intelligence, and his wit. Miller’s sexual appeal is all wrong for Holmes. Dallas Roberts had the right idea as the villain of the first episode. He’s sneaky smart, a little too smug, a little bit dangerous and yet intriguing. I wish he’d been cast as Holmes.

3. The swap to New York City added little to the atmosphere of the show. It felt like Toronto, not New York. If the show must be in New York, the city must be a character, not a bland background.

This show offers nothing I can’t find elsewhere.

If I want a contemporary takes on Sherlock Holmes, there’s Sherlock on BBC America. If a want detective eye candy in the 10 p.m. Thursday night slot, I already have Patrick Jane in The Mentalist. If I want Sherlock Holmes and Watson in New York City, I already have Goren and Eames in Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

However, if Elementary were to be revamped as “Joan Watson, addiction counselor, solves mysteries related to her clients,” I would watch the heck out of that show.

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