Friday, September 28, 2012

TV Review: Elementary - Pilot Episode


Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson in Elementary Pilot Episode
 Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson in CBS Elementary

The pilot starts with a struggle inside a house between a red-headed woman and an unknown assailant and the scene closes with the assumed murder.

As is usually the case with other adaptations and the Canon itself, we first meet Watson. In this instance, it is Joan Watson, played remarkably well by Lucy Liu. She has been hired to be the sober companion to Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) by the latter’s father. Sherlock is a recovering drug addict and escapes from the rehabilitation facility he was admitted to, right on the day of his release. He attributes his action to sheer boredom.

Captain Tobias Gregson (Aidan Quinn) calls in Sherlock to solve the aforementioned murder. Detective Javier Abreu (Manny Perez) is not very keen on getting outside assistance.

Click on the link below to buy your copy of Season 1:


The rest of the episode goes along predictable lines: Holmes and Watson get to know each other and the murder case is resolved as well.

This adaptation in addition to being set in the modern times has a female Watson. What’s more, Sherlock’s father is around and is playing an active role in Sherlock’s life. To the best of my knowledge, this is a new in the annals of Sherlock Holmes adaptations.

Jonny Lee Miller makes an OK Sherlock Holmes. This version of Sherlock worked as a consulting detective in London, before moving to NY. Miller's Sherlock does not have any idiosyncrasies or quirks that can make his portrayal unique or stand out from the crowd.

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson in Elementary Pilot Episode
Lucy Liu as Joan Watson

Lucy Liu gives the better performance (in my humble opinion) as Joan Watson, the everyman we can relate to. Her interactions with Miller’s Holmes are very typical of the ones we have read in A Study in Scarlet. Liu successfully sells the concept of a female Watson and deserves credit. The casting of Liu raised a lot of eyebrows and I can say with confidence that Liu makes a great Watson.


Jonny Lee Miller and Aidan Quinn as Sherlock Holmes and Captain Gregson in Elementary Pilot Episode
Aidan Quinn as Captain Tobias Gregson

Aidan Quinn makes a likeable Tobias Gregson. He respects Holmes for his skills. I still miss Lestrade. The Official Police Force is never the same without our little sallow, rat-faced Inspector!

The direction by Michael Cuesta is competent. The music and cinematography are adequate.

Canonical References
  1. In the story His Last Bow, Sherlock mentions he is writing a book on Bee Keeping entitled “Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen”. Miller’s Sherlock quotes the exact name of the book and also maintains a bee hive on his terrace! This is easily the best Canonical reference and I am curious as to how they are going to top this one in the upcoming episodes.
  2. In The Adventure of the Red Circle and The Adventure of the Red-Headed League, Sherlock Holmes displays his enjoyment of music. In Elementary, Sherlock’s father informs Joan Watson about his son’s love for music!
  3. In The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton, Holmes breaks into a house to secure some documents. In a superb twist, Miller’s Sherlock breaks out of a facility.
I liked the modern updates to Sherlock’s methods – using Google and Facebook. Nice touches and very Sherlockian in nature.

The episode moved at a good pace and the acting is commendable. The solving of the case involves teamwork from Holmes and Watson.

Click here to read all my posts about CBS Elementary.

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20 comments:

  1. I have a feeling this show would annoy me, so I'm going to avoid it. =D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Long time no see, Charity.

      I respect your thoughts. If possible, please do share your thoughts on what annoys you about this show.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
    2. Mostly, it annoys me because I'm a book puritan and any major departures irk me.

      Like...

      + Watson being an Asian girl.
      + Holmes being a recovering drug addict.
      + Doesn't this show take place in NYC?
      + Isn't it a cheap American rip-off of Sherlock? If so, it'll suck, because American takes on BBC programming always sucks. ;)

      Delete
    3. I agree with you about the show taking some departures from the canon.

      What are your thoughts about BBC Sherlock. Do you think that show is faithful to the canon and especially with regards to the way Cumberbatch portrays Sherlock.

      Cheers!

      Delete
    4. Okay, I gave "Elementary" a half hour and then quit. Didn't hold my interest, didn't seem particularly clever... just not my cup of tea.

      I like the BBC Sherlock, although I don't always like its choices (making Irene a lesbian dominatrix? really?). It makes Sherlock a bit too mean but otherwise the way they incorporate the canon into the storylines is terrific. I could do without the incessant "Sherlock/John couple" gags, though.

      Delete
    5. With regards to BBC Sherlock, I agree with all of your points. Especially about the excessive sociopathic nature of Sherlock, as portrayed by Cumberbatch.

      Have you tried the Russian adaptation with Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes. This is my all time favorite adaptation of the canon.

      Cheers!

      Delete
    6. I haven't seen Vasily Livanov, no... I'm assuming it's in Russian? I'll see what I can do. =)

      Delete
    7. Yes, this series is in Russian. Click here to read my thoughts on Vasily Livanov's performance.

      You can watch the series (with English subtitles) online by clicking here . I look forward to your thoughts.

      Cheers!

      Delete
  2. Without a quirky Holmes i don't quite see the point. I'm all for a female Watson, as long as they don't get jiggy!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I admit, it wasn't as bad as I feared. I also agree with GK about Joan. I'm still going to watch, just to see if certain things get better/how some things turn out...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you Loveable Freak about the show being not as bad as many feared it would turn out to be.

      Yesterday's episode was the pilot. So hopefully, CBS would have allocated a bigger budget and more resources for the upcoming episodes. Lets hope the rest of the episodes get better and Miller gives a better performance as well...

      Delete
  4. I'm so frustrated with myself! I missed the pilot episode because of pet-sitting that night so I'm going to have to track it down online. Maybe hulu has it. I want to at least give it an honest try. If I love "Sherlock" this much then I have got to give "Elementary" a try. It could be brilliant and I might love it. You've made me all the more interested.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carissa, you can watch the full episode online here .

      Cheers!

      Delete
  5. I enjoyed this first episode. I thought Lucy Liu did a marvelous job as Dr. Watson and I enjoyed the whole cast. I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan from way back, to Basil Rathbone, and don't mind the updated versions as long as the acting is good and the scripts keep you interested.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Denise for stopping by. I too am a long time fan of Sherock Holmes fan and love Basil's portrayal of Sherlock. Click here to read my tribute to this great performer.

      Have you seen the Russian adaptation with Sir Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes. He is my all-time favorite actor to play Sherlock Holmes.

      Cheers!

      Delete
    2. No I haven't but I will definitely look this one up. Thanks and have a great weekend!

      Delete
  6. In the pilot we learn that Holmes had some kind of meltdown caused by a woman (which is why he had to leave London). Do you think as I do that perhaps "The Woman" might be a certain American actress with initals that are vowels?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I missed that one. Sounds like Irene Adler...

      Delete