Monday, August 12, 2013

CBS Elementary - Cast and Crew - First Season

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary
Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes
With the second season of CBS Elementary debuting about a month away, I decided to do a rundown of the first season. Before getting to the episodes, here is a look at the cast.

I enjoyed Miller's performance in the earlier episodes, Child Predator and Flight Risk  But as the season progressed, Miller's version became more and more distant from the Canonical version. By the time, the season reached its end in episodes Risk ManagementThe Woman and Heroine, the only thing common to Miller's Holmes and the Canonical Holmes was the character name and nothing else.

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

I feel that the lesser knowledge one has of Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories, the more is his/her enjoyment of Miller's performance.

Lucy Liu as Joan Watson in CBS Elementary
Lucy Liu as Joan Watson
I find Lucy Liu's Watson the better performed and the most consistent character of the show. Despite the gender and racial swap, Liu's Watson is not only one of the best acted Watsons, but also one of the smartest.

Unlike the Canon and most of the other adaptations, Joan herself is a Consulting Detective and is treated as Holmes' equal. In the season finale, she continues Holmes' detective work, when he is too love struck with Irene Adler (aka Moriarty) to be of any use to the NYPD and the general public.

Aidan Quinn as Captain Toby Gregson in CBS Elementary
Aidan Quinn as Captain Toby Gregson
Named after Inspector Tobias Gregson from the Sherlock Holmes Canon, Quinn's character remains one of the least developed recurring characters in the show.

Jon Michael Hill as Detective Marcus Bell in CBS Elementary
Jon Michael Hill as Detective Marcus Bell
Marcus Hill's character is a tribute to Dr Joseph Bell, the real life mentor of Arthur Conan Doyle. Even after an entire episode (Details) was focused on him, the fact that he remains an uninteresting character speaks volumes about the quality of writing behind the show.

Candis Cayne as Miss Hudson in CBS Elementary Episode 19 Snow Angels
Candis Cayne as Miss Hudson
Yet another main character in the Canon undergoes a change - Elementary's Miss Hudson is a transsexual. This character is the best example of the both the strengths and weaknesses of the show writers. Just like Lucy Liu's Watson, Candis Cayne's Hudson is one of the best developed characters, but disappeared out of the show after that single episode appearance in Snow Angels.

Jonny Lee Miller and Natalie Dormer as Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler Moriarty in CBS Elementary Episode # 23 The Woman
Natalie Dormer as Irene Adler/Moriarty
The show took the lazy route of combining the classic characters of Irene Adler and Professor Moriarty. Natalie Dormer did her best with the roles and gave one of the more interesting performances in the show.

Vinnie Jones as M in CBS Elementary Episode 12 M
Vinnie Jones as M
As can be expected of a character played by Vinnie Jones, M is a hulking brute and one of the many agents employed by Moriarty. M is one of the most memorable characters, thanks again to Jones' charismatic screen presence.

Click here to read all my posts about CBS Elementary.

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Image Source: CBS


  1. Amen about Jonny Lee Miller. Felt like for everything he did right, he did 3 things wrong...

    I HOPE season 2 fixes season 1's flaws, but at the same time I'm wary of optimism... :/

    1. Thanks Loveable Freak.

      There are a lot of things the show can improve upon - the first and foremost thing being the characterization of Miller's Holmes.


  2. The next season is about to start already? I suppose it is time for the Fall season of network TV shows to begin.

    Hopefully season two will not disappoint, although sticking closer to the source material is unlikely. The best Sherlock series won't air until November though, season three is taking too long!


    1. Thanks James.

      I think the third season of BBC Sherlock will be airing in December in UK and early next year in the US.


    2. Really!? The report I heard a while back must have been incorrect, thank you for the info.

      A quick off topic question. I noticed on your Twitter that you use something to make your URL links much shorter, can you please tell me how you do that? Also thanks for the Retweets!


    3. You are welcome, James.

      You can use this site: to create shorter URLs.


  3. I don't agree with you on all points ( I like how Moriarty and Irene were handled, although non-canonical), but you did make some very good ones.

  4. Enjoyed your post, Buddy. About halfway through the first season, I decided not to have many expectations. After that I began to enjoy the episodes more. I have mixed feelings about the Irene Alder episodes, though.

    1. Thanks Kathleen.

      Not having any expectations is an excellent way to enjoy the show :)

      I lost all hope and respect for the show, after the final 3 episodes.


  5. I'm surprised that you like Joan, considering that the character has nothing to do with the original Watson aside from being the friend of a Holmes. And I'm honestly offended by this character. In just one season she becomes financially totally dependent on Holmes. Without him, she would be now out of a job, a home and she even alienated some of her friends on his behalf. Some token deductions by her (most of them way too easy, but that's true for Holmes, too) don't make up for this in my eyes.

    Honestly, I won't watch the second season. It's a waste of time. This isn't really a Holmes adaptation at all, it's a generic CBS show on which the names were slapped. The only thing which can be considered an interesting take on canon are the bees. Everything else is just a disgrace.

    1. I agree 100% with your views, especially the bee reference. I think they threw that one out in nearly every other episode.

      On top of that, they also got a Canonical reference wrong in Episode # 21 (A Landmark Story) - Miller's Holmes refers to "a certain problem of Thor Bridge" when asked by Joan if he has broken into a mortuary before. In the Canon, Holmes and Watson enter a crypt in The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place.

      The adaptation has not much in common with Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories. The characters just share the names

      I think the performances of Lucy Liu and Vinnie Jones were the redeeming aspects of this disappointing show.

      Thanks for the comment.


  6. I confess to enjoying Elementary. I wrote that the decision to combine Adler & Moriarty into one would be one of the most divisive aspects of the show, and for me, the redeeming quality in this is Dormer's performance. I was stunned to hear speak w/a flawless American and British accent (I was not familiar w/Game of Thrones, so I thought she WAS American). Imagine my surprise... A sign of a true talent.

    Since I've only seen one episode of Sherlock, I cannot say much on it (I think you know where I stand on the Best Sherlock...a hint, Miller OR Cumberbatch ain't it), but w/just A Study in Pink under my belt, I prefer Liu's Watson over Freeman. Freeman veered closer (in my mind) to the Nigel Bruce mode (that of the dim second-banana, which always makes watching the Rathbone films difficult for me), but Liu's Watson never struck me as dim. I like that she stands up to Holmes, but again, holding final thoughts until I get Series One behind me.

    I too hope Ms. Hudson makes a return appearance or even becomes a semi-recurring character.

    1. Thanks Rick.

      I agree about the divisive nature of the decision to combine Irene and Moriarty. I also agree that Dormer gave a good performance.

      I too find the Rathbone movies a tough watch, mainly due to Nigel Bruce's Watson.

      I like Lucy Liu's Watson, but find her a bit too smart. Not that that is a bad thing. After all, Watson is never the equal of Holmes in the Canon. Still, this can at least be considered a positive thing for Liu's Watson.

      It would be good to have Miss Hudson back. Cayne did a great job.


    2. Really? Sherlock's Watson is more useful in the first episode than most of them are in their entire adaptation. In A Study in Pink, he immediately takes the role of an emotional compass, rescues Sherlock's life and tells him off for being an idiot. This works for me much better than trying to make Watson as intelligent as Sherlock, because honestly, this defeats the whole point of the character. He was always suppose to be as intelligent as an average human being (meaning the reader), but stumped by Sherlock's ability to deduce. If Watson is as good as Holmes than Holmes isn't impressive anymore. Therefore I think it is very clever that the BBC adaption concentrates on John being better in reading social clues and his ability to deal with dangerous situation.
      I don't know why, but female Watsons have the tendency to be "nearly as smart as Sherlock", which is one of the reasons none of them ever convinced me. It is missing the point of Watson, Imho. The worth of the character for the audience and for Holmes lays elsewhere.

    3. Thanks for replying to Rick's comment.

      I agree that Freeman's version is closer to the Canon than that of Lucy Liu.

      Watson has always been the surrogate for the reader and serves to make Holmes that much more of a larger than life figure. ACD walked the tight line perfectly - he did not make Watson an idiot in the stories, though he did refer to Watson as "an idiot" in an interview.

      I personally favor Watson to be just as ACD had written - a decent human being who is Holmes' best friend and does not have his powers of observation and deduction.

      From that perspective, I like Vitaly Solomin's Watson (from the Livanov series). Jude Law's Watson is also smart, but not as smart as Lucy Liu's.

      I think the idea of making Joan as smart as Holmes, is to avoid any accusations of gender inequality.

      In a way, Lucy Liu's Watson is the perfect antidote to Nigel Bruce's Watson. Though both are miles away from the Canonical Watson.

      BBC Sherlock made a masterstroke with "A Study in Pink". By starting the series with Freeman's Watson, they echoed ACD himself and set the right tone for the entire series.

      But yes, you are absolutely right: When you say that making Joan the intellectual equal of Holmes is not a smart movie, that completely misses the point of ACD's Watson. It might have helped, if Miller's version of Holmes had been good in the first place....

      Thanks again for stopping by and for the comment.