Saturday, December 15, 2012

TV Review: Elementary Episode # 10 - "The Leviathan"

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in Elementary Episode # 10 The Leviathan
Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes

After a couple of particularly weak episodes, Elementary makes a rare comeback. This episode is not great by any stretch of imagination, but is not the mediocre fare that I have become used to.

A supposedly uncrack-able bank vault called “The Leviathan” is breached and Sherlock is hired by Micah Erlich (Reg Rogers) to catch the culprits. A bunch of clues and some customary character development scenes and Sherlock has solved the case successfully!

The problem with this episode (and the show in general) is not that it is terrible. It is just that it is not terribly exciting and is in fact quite predictable … and these factors do not bode well for a mystery based show, least of all one that is supposed to be based on a certain Bohemian English detective.

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Canonical references
  1. The bank theft by 4 guys reminded me of the story - The Resident Patient, which had a similar plot.
  2. “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth” – This is hands down my all-time favorite Sherlock Holmes quote. Elementary is on to this secret somehow as the quote was repeated at least 3 times!
  3. Miller’s Holmes quotes the following line almost verbatim from The Red-Headed League: “I know, my dear Watson, that you share my love of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions and humdrum routine of everyday life.”
  4. Miller’s Holmes displays his knowledge about a certain species of flies that feeds on corpses - A nice nod to A Study in Scarlet where Watson makes a list about the topics on which Holmes either displays astonishing levels of expertise or is just plain ignorant.
  5. Joan Watson is fast asleep on the bed and is roused out of her sleep by Holmes. In the Canon, it has happened in many cases – either due to the sudden visit by a client (The Adventure of the Speckled Band) or after Holmes has had a sudden brainwave (The Man with the Twisted Lip).
  6. Miller’s Holmes is not sure about the rates for a job that he estimates will take 2 hours to complete. In The Problem of Thor Bridge, Holmes states: “My professional charges are upon a fixed scale... I do not vary them, save when I remit them altogether.”
  7. Miller’s Holmes notices some expensive paintings when waiting to meet a suspect. In The Valley of Fear, Holmes mentions to Inspector MacDonald about noticing a very expensive painting in Professor Moriarty’s study. I agree that this is quite far-fetched, but still stuck out to me strongly enough that I decided to put it down. May be, it is the hopeless fan inside me, trying my best to find something exciting in an admittedly dull show.

Lucy Liu as Joan Watson in Elementary Episode # 10 The Leviathan
Lucy Liu as Joan Watson
We also learn some new things about Miller’s Holmes:
  1. He hires consultants with highly specialized skills, such as lock picking or decrypting code written in Malbolge, an esoteric programming language.
  2. He plays piano with considerable level of expertise.
  3. He does not drink.
As we have seen in the previous episodes, we have a customary subplot: A dinner meeting with Joan Watson’s family – her brother Oren Watson (Steve Park) and his girlfriend Gabrielle Harper (Jennifer Kim) and Joan’s mother, Mary Watson (Freda Foh Shen). As readers familiar with the Canon will remember, Watson’s brother is mentioned briefly in The Sign of Four.

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in Elementary Episode # 10 The Leviathan
Jennifer Kim as Gabrielle Harper

Holmes praises Joan’s contributions to his work and his recovery from drugs. Later we come to know that Holmes was actually being economical with truth and was just telling things that Joan’s family wanted to hear.

The mystery element had a good twist in the end. On the whole, a passable way to spend one’s time.

Holmes plays the song “Scenes of Childhood: I. of Foreign Lands and People” by Robert Schumann on the piano.

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in Elementary Episode # 10 The Leviathan
Reg Rogers as Micah Erlich

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  1. I agree with you on the predictablity factor. The show is very formulaic. 1.Get case. 2. Capture first suspect in the first few minutes. 3. SUPRISE! The guy we caught in the first few minutes ISN'T the cuplrit! 4. Turns out this new character we met in the first half was our culprit. 5. Wrap subplot and other things up and play some song... T_T

    ...Mayhaps I should go write for them, I've already got the formula down! ;)

    1. "...Mayhaps I should go write for them, I've already got the formula down! ;)" - Yes, I think you should :)

  2. Well, first I always love your reviews, even when we are not on the same page.
    I still love this show and look forward to it. Yea some things need improving, and it sure could be more canonical but over all, I think it is doing a pretty good job.
    When saying it is very formulaic, isn't that what the canon was. 'Holmes gets a case, Holmes follows clues, Holmes confuses Watson. Holmes catches bad guy (most of the time, some times Holmes make a mistake and has to fix it."
    The canon is not full of high speed hansome cab chases and fist fights, we have RDJ for that. They are usually rather plodding with much of the leg work taking place without Watson.
    The show is trying to be a little grittier than we have seen before.
    I loved the scenes with Watson's family (although I have not finished the show yet and don't know how it ends.)(So, after I watch the last fifteen mins, I make take most of this back.)
    I don't think a show like Brett's Holmes would find the mean stream audience they are trying to reach with this one.
    I respect your thoughts and most of the time we agree.

    1. Thanks John for the compliment.

      I agree that I love the Guy Ritchie directed movies for their light-hearted take on the legend. I loved Jared Harris's Moriarty, Jude Law's Watson and Hans Zimmer's music. I do like RDJ's take but am very aware that his performance is equal parts RDJ and Holmes :)

      I look forward to the third movie for the same reasons as above: more of Jude Law's Watson and Hans Zimmer's music.

      In the Canon, Holmes was intrigued by Irene Adler (The Woman). Both BBC Sherlock and the Guy Ritchie movies took some liberties with this and put their own spin on the Holmes-Adler relationship. But Elementary seems to be going in totally different direction. In this episode (and in the first episode), Miller's Holmes is involved with women. This is on top of the fact that the show has already indicated some kind of intimacy between Holmes and Adler in the past. That kind of takes away a lot of fun out of this adaptation....

      I will be very happy if Elementary introduces more people to the Sherlock Holmes Canon. I just think that there are better ways to give a contemporary update while still retaining the spirit of the Canon and still reach mainstream audience. Best example of this would be the Basil Rathbone adaptations. Except for the first 2 movies, the remaining 12 were set in the 1940s and Holmes was in a battle of wits with Nazis. Still, we could see that it was Classical Holmes with his trademark characteristics (skills of observation and deduction, disguises).

      I look forward to reading your thoughts about Elementary.


  3. Can someone tell me what is the name of the melody Holmes was playing in this episode?? Thank you so much.

    1. “Scenes of Childhood: I. of Foreign Lands and People” by Robert Schumann.


  4. I just got into this show and have been going back like crazy and downloading/binge watching episodes to catch up, and despite some occasionally cheesy dialogue, I love it! Dr. Joan Watson is the best role Lucy Liu has played since O-Ren Ishii in the Kill Bill films...and finally, there's a Sherlock that has a compelling Watson character, instead of just a silly sideshow. In fact, I'd say Liu's Watson is much more compelling than the Sherlock character (though this is not at all Johnny Lee Miller's fault, just speaks to the strength of Watson). This epsiode really did a great job of providing even better characterization for Watson, and that alone made it interesting.

    Anyway, regarding this episode's mystery specifically, I really like how it was a bit of a change up to focus on a robbery instead of a murder, and I really got caught up in the mystery of how the lock was breached. Oh and to top it all off, I loved that they used "Medicate or Stimulate" by Minutes Til Midnight during the vault robbery scene - I always hear their other song "Unstoppable" being used in shows but never "Medicate or Stimulate" and that is my favorite song of theirs so that was a cool surprise.

    1. I agree with you darci that Watson often outshines Holmes in this show.

  5. It's actually by Robert Schumann.