Saturday, May 4, 2013

TV Review: Elementary Episode # 21 - A Landmark Story

Jonny Lee Miller and Vinnie Jones as Sherlock Holmes and Sebastian Moran in CBS Elementary Episode # 21 A Landmark Story

The episode starts with a brief flasback to episode # 12 "M" as a kind of quick refresher to Moran's character for new viewers.

Cut to the present. Two people related to the same establishment die in seemingly normal circumstances. The first death is due to a heart attack (a severe one though by any criteria) and second victim is killed by a falling air conditioner.

Sebastian Moran (Vinnie Jones) is out of his solitary confinement in Newgate. He requests a meeting with Sherlock and infroms his that the aforementioned first victim was on his hit list.

Lucy Liu as Joan Watson in CBS Elementary Episode # 21 A Landmark Story

Sherlock and Joan quickly zero in on a probable third victim and are able to stop the killer. Holmes apprehends the killer, Daniel Gottlieb (F. Murray Abraham) and interrogates him in his brownstone apartment. Holmes send a message to Moriarty from Gottlieb's phone. This leads Holmes to track down yet another of Moriarty's agents, John Douglas (Roger Aaron Brown). But John is killed by an unseen assassin, before Holmes can elicit any information.

Moriarty sends a new message to Gottlieb on his phone. Gottlieb informs Holmes that this is not the usual code. To save time, Holmes tries to get Moran to decipher the information. Moran however refuses to help and it is up to Holmes to crack the code. 

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Canonical References
  1. When Joan asks Sherlock if he has broken into a mortuary before, Sherlock refers to "a certain problem of Thor Bridge" - In the Canon, Holmes and Watson enter a crypt in The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place. In The Problem of Thor Bridge, there is no mention of mortuary or a crypt.
  2. The second victim is killed by a falling air conditioner - In The Final Problem, a similar attempt is made on Holmes' life by one of Professor Moriarty's agents: "I kept to the pavement after that, Watson, but as I walked down Vere Street a brick came down from the roof of one of the houses and was shattered to fragments at my feet. I called the police and had the place examined. There were slates and bricks piled up on the roof preparatory to some repairs, and they would have me believe that the wind had toppled over one of these. Of course I knew better, but I could prove nothing."
  3. One of Moriarty's agents is named John Douglas - In The Valley of Fear, Sherock Holmes sets out to solve the murder of John Douglas.
  4. Both John Douglas and Sebastian Moran refer to Moriarty as "him" - In The Valley of Fear, Holmes states about Moriarty: "When any of that party talk about "He" you know whom they mean. There is one predominant "He" for all of them."
  5. Moran refers to Moriarty: "He's got ears and eyes everywhere in here" - In The Final Problem, Sherlock Holmes mentions about Professor Moriarty: "But his agents are numerous and splendidly organized."
  6. Miller's Holmes refers to Daniel Gottlieb  as "a man after my own heart" - In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes remarks about Dr Mortimer: "This is a colleague, Watson, after our own heart."
  7. Miller's Holmes works on the case without a  sleep - The Canonical Holmes is known for skipping food and sleep when working hard on a case.
  8. Miller's Holmes deciphers the system of coded messages sent by Moriarty - In The Adventure of the Dancing Men, Sherlock Holmes solves the case by decrypting similarly coded messages
  9. Miller's Holmes is too late to prevent the outcome of the coded messages, that he deciphers. - In The Adventure of the Dancing Men, Holmes is unable to prevent tragedy and redeems himself by capturing the murderer.
  10. Miller's Holmes compliments Joan by stating that "some people without possessing genius have a remarkable knack for stimulating it" - In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes remarks about Watson: "It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it."
  11. Joan Watson is delighted by Holmes' comments about the improvement in his life due to their connection - This is not a direct reference, but still reminded me of Watson's reaction (to Holmes' praise of his deductions from Dr Mortimer's walking stick) in The Hound of the Baskervilles: "He had never said as much before, and I must admit that his words gave me keen pleasure, for I had often been piqued by his indifference to my admiration and to the attempts which I had made to give publicity to his methods."

F. Murray Abraham as Daniel Gottlieb in CBS Elementary Episode # 21 A Landmark Story

The best part of this episode was the Oscar Winner F. Murray Abraham's scenes as Gottlieb. He is the "scalpel" to Moran's "sledgehammer", as Holmes put it. Murray has superb acting chops and would easily make a remarkable "Napolean of Crime".  Coincidentally, I have been enjoying his work as a narrator on many PBS Nature videos. I am going to check out Amadeus for which he won the Academy award for best actor in a leading role.

He is easily the best casting choice so far and easily surpasses that of Miller and Liu as Holmes and Watson. Here's hoping he indeed turns out to be Moriarty.

Speaking of Holmes and Joan, there are some aspects of "character development" that I will be discussing in a separate post. Suffice to say, it was a big letdown.

Still, there were some enjoyable aspects - Miller's Holmes using Joan's legos to stuff his bag for his meeting with John Douglas. We also see Miller's Holmes trying out his skills as an escape artist. 

Joan's reply to Holmes thanking her for helping him decrypt the coded message was hilarious: "Oh, an insult and a boast".

Vinnie Jones as Sebastian Moran in CBS Elementary Episode # 21 A Landmark Story

Vinnie Jones continues his good work as Sebastian Moran. He has an intense screen presence. We also learn that this version of Moran has a sister.

The episode was more of a setup for the season finale. To give an analogy, this episode is like the individual Marvel movies (Iron Man movies, Thor and Captain America) that built the audience expectations for Avengers, the box office phenomenon. Let's hope the season finale does indeed live up to the hype!

  • Miller's Holmes is listening to the song "Singin' the Blues" by Bix Beiderbecke
  • The song "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" by Countdown Kids is sung by Sebastian Moran

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Image Sources: CBS, ONTD

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  1. Do the redbox codes last until July 1st or July 31st?

    1. According to the sponsor: "The codes are valid through July".


  2. Good canonical catches and references.

  3. Just saw it, and I really liked this one. Didn't catch The Valley of Fear reference. (Like the Marvel analogy ^_^). Agree with you on Jones and Abraham, though. They stole the show.

    I didn't realize he (Abraham) was in Amadeus. I kinda liked that movie, especially the end.

    1. Murray Abraham left a great impression. Amadeus is on my to-watch list.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  4. One of the better episodes in my opinion, and I agree that Abraham was an excellent casting choice. It would make for an interesting twist that he turns out to me Moriarty, especially since he does look the part. Looking forward to the finale, it should be great.


    1. Thanks James for stopping by. Abraham fits Moriarty to a T.


  5. Gottlieb is German for Love of God, which translates into Latin as Amadeus - coincidence or a nice in-joke?

    1. Great catch. I think it was an in-joke.

      Thanks for the info!


  6. I enjoyed A Landmark Story for the acting (particularly Abraham)...though you might reword the phrase "Oscar nominated" because it suggests he didn't win. I know you stated that he did win for Amadeus (an excellent film by the way) but so far he's received only one nomination so he's 1 for 1...and one of a handful to win on their first and only nominations.

    1. Thanks Rick.

      The post has been updated.