Friday, November 28, 2014

Elementary Season 3 Episode 5 "Rip Off" – Recap and Review

Sherlock Holmes Jonny Lee Miller in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 5 Rip Off

A business woman (Paige Patterson) discovers by accident a severed hand in a pool of blood on the road side.

Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) wants Kitty Winter (Ophelia Lovibond) to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA), to safeguard his interests. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) is still in Copenhagen.

Sherlock and Kitty arrive at the spot where the severed hand was discovered. Sherlock deduces that the hand's owner is already dead and that the dead body will be in a parking lot. He is proved right shortly.

Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) finds himself in a tough spot after physically assaulting Chris Stotz (Derek Grabner), a fellow cop. Turns out that he did so to retaliate against that Stotz's abusive behavior against his daughter Hannah Gregson (Liza J. Bennett), who is a police officer herself.

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Dr Grannis (Nadia Dajani), who performed the autopsy on the dead man concludes that he was attacked with a blunt instrument and had fought back hard. She also informs Sherlock that the deceased person was making a good recovery from an unknown ailment.

Sherlock deduces that the deceased was a devout Jew by observing his clothes. Sherlock and Kitty visit synagogues and track down the victim's brother, Josef Shapiro (Stuart Zagnit).

Josef confirms that his brother, Moshe Shapiro was recovering from bone cancer. Moshe owned a Postal Unlimited and was murdered within a block from his office.

Sherlock and Kitty visit Moshe's office and question one of his employees, Amit Hattengatti (Rafi Silver). Amit confirms that Moshe was a very kind human being, without whose help it would have been hard for him to get through graduate school.

Sherlock Holmes and Kitty Winter in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 5 Rip Off

While working together on the case, Sherlock refuses to lend his laptop to Kitty. We soon find out the reason for Sherlock's lack of trust: He has discovered a 474-page transcript titled “The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes” written by Joan.

Joan has not properly deleted her draft and Sherlock is not sure if she has any more copies lying elsewhere. He is determined to ensure that she destroys all other copies (if any exist).

Sherlock figures out that Moshe was involved in the diamond smuggling trade. At the NYPD, Sherlock does some lip reading and is able to recover the diamonds.

Kitty Winter Sherlock Holmes new apprentice in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 5 Rip Off

Sherlock further deduces that a yet to be identified strong individual has ripped off Moshe's arm. He hopes to find that person in Ritchie's gym, which is very close to Moshe's murder site.

At the gym, Sherlock has his eyes set on one Dana Kazmir (Michael DeMello). He challenges him to an arm wrestling contest. He does this in order to get Kazmir's DNA and accomplishes his goal successfully.

Realizing the possibility of facing legal consequences, Dana makes a full confession that he was hired by an unknown man (known only as “Mencius Blackbag”) to kill Moshe Shapiro. He was told to deposit the bag containing the diamonds in a dumpster.

Dana has not met his employer, but could make out a Dutch accent over the phone calls. Dana's attorney Cynthia Kerr (Leslie Hendrix) provides a list of three more persons who were supposed to have been killed by him. The third individual on the list is Moshe's employee Amit.

Sherlock Holmes cooking in the kitchen in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 5 Rip Off

Amit informs Sherlock that one Leonard Oosthuizen (Daniel Abeles) had threatened Moshe at his office in front of Amit and two other customers. Sherlock and Kitty realize that these three eye witnesses are the names on the list.

Leonard is taken in by the NYPD for interrogation. He denies any involvement in the murder of Moshe Shapiro.

Kitty proposes that Amit is the mastermind behind Moshe's murder. She is proved correct. Amit was working for Moshe in the diamond smuggling trade.

He bribed Kerr to make Dana make the false confession and provide the fake list of targets (including his name) to mislead the investigators. Amit intended to take over from his boss and at the same time get rid of his competitor, Leonard.

Elementary turtle Clyde Sherlock Holmes pet

Canonical References

1. The name of the manuscript written by Joan Watson: The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes is a direct reference to the final set of twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle.

2. Elementary Sherlock refers to Joan Watson's prose as prosaic - The Canonical Holmes often complained about Dr John Watson's writing style:

Sherlock Holmes writes about Dr Watson's writing style in The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier: “..since I have often had occasion to point out to him how superficial are his own accounts and to accuse him of pandering to popular taste instead of confining himself rigidly to facts and figures.”

Sherlock Holmes tells Dr John Watson in The Adventure of the Abbey Grange: “Your fatal habit of looking at everything from the point of view of a story instead of as a scientific exercise has ruined what might have been an instructive and even classical series of demonstrations. You slur over work of the utmost finesse and delicacy, in order to dwell upon sensational details which may excite, but cannot possibly instruct, the reader.” 

This is easily the best episode in this season and one of the best episodes in all three seasons combined. I did suspect Amit, but still the episode managed to surprise me with the twist. This is one of the best plots.

Credit to Jason Tracey, the writer for this episode. The director, John Polson has also done a great job. It is no coincidence, that he has also worked on some of the other episodes I have enjoyed so far:  “M.”  and “The Deductionist.

Sherlock Holmes and Kitty Winter in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 5 Rip Off

Jonny Lee Miller and Ophelia Lovibond share a good chemistry as a mentor and his protege. Despite being initially apprehensive about Joan writing about the cases, Miller's Holmes finally acknowledges that she did have the right to do so. He cancels the Non Disclosure Agreement and even encourages Kitty to publish her own memoirs about their cases.

Ophelia finally comes into her own. She shows her trust in Sherlock's judgment by destroying the laptop containing Joan's draft. Being a victim of abuse, she can empathize with Gregson's daughter Hannah and plays a crucial role in resolving the conflict between Captain Gregson and Stotz. 

Sherlock Holmes Detective Marcus Bell in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 5 Rip Off

I also enjoyed Elementary Holmes' comment about prosecuting Mencius Blackbag” for his crimes against the English language.

The best compliment I can pay is that Joan Watson was completely absent and the episode still managed to hold my attention till the end.

Hopefully, the show will manage to keep up the quality for the rest of the season.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Elementary Season 3 Episode 4 "Bella" – Recap and Review

Sherlock Holmes Joan Watson consulting detectives in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 4 Bella

Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is hired by one Edwin Borstein (Michael Chernus). Edwin owns a software company specializing in Artificial Intelligence. Someone has stolen a copy of Bella, an AI program.

Sherlock is so intrigured by Bella's thoughts about love, he takes the case without any pay. He is more interested in beating Bella, rather than catching the culprit. He leaves that part to Joan Watson (Lucy Liu).

Joan and Kitty Winter (Ophelia Lovibond) strike a working relationship. They notice a similar case involving theft of a human genome. They narrow down the list of suspects to a single individual, based on a match in fingerprints.

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Sherlock and Joan conduct investigation at Edwin's office. We learn that only Edwin and Melinda Yee (Condola Rashad) had access to Bella.

Sherlock has already identified the aforementioned suspect as Mr Raffles, the legendary criminal. He also discovers that Mr Raffles has recently started working for Robert Burnett (Bill Winkler), Edwin's competitor in AI field. 

Sherlock deduces that Burnett used Mr Raffles' skills to illegally obtain a copy of Bella. He threatens Burnett into destroying the stolen copy, failing which Sherlock will reveal his misdoings to the authorities.
Michael Chernus Jonny Lee Miller Sherlock Holmes Elementary Season 3 Episode 4 Bella

Before Sherlock can inform his client about the latest developments, Edwin is found dead. Melinda thinks that her employer has died from an epileptic attack.

Sherlock believes that his client has been murdered. Sherlock has a theory: Members of Existential Threat Research Association (ETRA) killed Edwin to gain more credibility for their message about the threat posed by AI to human survival.

Since Edwin was a fan of Death metal music, Sherlock listens to a CD (formerly in his client's possession) real loud in the NYPD office. He notices some anomalies in the track.

Sherlock's conjecture about ETRA is proven correct when another suspect, Michael Webb (Jonathan Judge-Russo) identifies Halley Feiffer (Ellen Rabin) as the person who entered his house under the disguise of a professional cleaning company worker.

Detective Marcus Bell Joan Watson Elementary Season 3 Episode 4 Bella

Halley adores her mentor Isaac Pike (Michael Cristofer) and makes a quick confession. Sherlock deduces that she is covering up for Isaac.

He devises a less than ideal way to make Isaac confess to his crimes - by using his drug-addicted brother Joshua as a trump card. But Isaac has already done some research on Sherlock's addiction problems in the past. Isaac knows that Sherlock would not send a fellow addict to prison and calls Sherlock's bluff.

This is probably the best episode of this season. I liked the final chat between Sherlock and Isaac. There were some genuinely funny moments involving Mason (Robert Capron), the irregular hired by Sherlock for his AI skills to take down Bella.

Sherlock Holmes Joan Watson investigating a corpse in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 4 Bella

This is the first time that Sherlock gets to do most of the detective work. Unlike the previous episodes, Joan enters the scene only at the sixth minute.

Speaking of hogging the limelight, it is Clyde (supposedly the breakout star of the show) whose face looms large at a very close range in the first scene. Sherlock is watching him eat lettuce, while delegating tasks to an understandably vexed Kitty. 

The secondary plot involved Joan Watson's boyfriend Andrew Paek (Raza Jaffrey) helping out Sherlock, after the latter explicitly seeks his help. Initially, Joan is not happy with this interaction, but Sherlock convinces her of his benign intentions.

Ophelia Lovibond Kitty Winter Sherlock Holmes apprentice in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 4 Bella

In the end, Andrew is off to Copenhagen on a new business venture with Magnus, one of Sherlock's friends. Joan accompanies him on his flight trip, giving her interest in exploring Copenhagen as a motivating reason for her action.

Ophelia's Kitty Winter is relegated to the background this time.

But the episode did have a jarring moment: In an earlier scene featuring Edwin explaining his case to Sherlock, Jonny Lee Miller delivered a line off screen as the camera cut him off. Hopefully, such glaring lapses will not recur.
Condola Rashad Elementary Season 3 Episode 4 Bella

On a side note, there was mention of Turing Test: this test measures a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to or indistinguishable from that of a human.

This somehow reminded of the soon-to-be-released picture The Imitation Game starring the other Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) as Alan Turing.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Anthony Horowitz Sherlock Holmes Short Story "The Three Monarchs" - Book Review

 Sherlock Holmes pastiche short story poster image screensaver wallpaper pic review recap blog

Having enjoyed Anthony Horowitz's previous Sherlock Holmes pastiche “The House of Silk, I had high expectations for his next effort. The book under review is not a full length novel, but a short story that makes a quick and a very enjoyable read.

Readers familiar with the Sherlock Holmes Canon will be familiar with the line spoken by Sherlock Holmes to Scotland Yard Inspector Lestrade in The Adventure of the Six Napoleans: “You will remember, Watson, how the dreadful business of the Abernetty family was first brought to my notice by the depth which the parsley had sunk into the butter upon a hot day..

This short story by Horowitz deals with this aforementioned incident.

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Dr Watson has moved out of 221 B Baker Street with his recently married wife, Mary Morstan. Memories of his adventures with the Bohemian detective still haunt him. On Mary's advice, he pays a visit to the old rooms and most importantly, his former roommate and friend, Mr Sherlock Holmes.

He finds Holmes listening to a case from another Scotland Yard detective Athelney Jones. As readers might be aware, Athelney Jones has appeared in the novel The Sign of the Four.

Jones needs the Consulting Detective's help to solve the mystery behind the break in at the Abernetty's house. The intruder is shot dead by the elderly Abernetty.

The thief has stolen three china figures from the Abernettys and others. I will leave it to the readers to discover the solution for themselves.

Sherlock Holmes Sidney Paget illustration Arthur Conan Doyle story

The author is good at imitating Arthur Conan Doyle's tone and style of writing. Like most of the original stories, this one begins with Dr John Watson's voice.

Canonical References
1. Sherlock Holmes refers to the Trepoff murder - In A Scandal in Bohemia, Dr Watson states: “From time to time I heard some vague account of his doings: of his summons to Odessa in the case of the Trepoff murder, of his clearing up of the singular tragedy of the Atkinson brothers at Trincomalee, and finally of the mission which he had accomplished so delicately and successfully for the reigning family of Holland.”

2. Holmes mentions the strange behavior of Dr Moore Agar - In The Adventure of the Devil's Foot, Dr Watson writes about Dr Agar: “In March of that year Dr. Moore Agar, of Harley Street, whose dramatic introduction to Holmes I may some day recount, gave positive injunctions that the famous private agent lay aside all his cases and surrender himself to complete rest if he wished to avert an absolute breakdown.”

3. The Abernettys have inherited their house from one Mrs Matilda Briggs - In The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, Sherlock Holmes explains: “Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson,...It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared.”

Despite the brief length of the story, Sherlock Holmes' powers of observation and deduction are on full display. Credit to Horowitz for making this an enjoyable experience.

Recommended read for fans of Sherlock Holmes. 

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Elementary Season 3 Episode 3 "Just a Regular Irregular" – Recap and Review

Elementary Sherlock Holmes Jonny Lee Miller in Season 3 Episode 3 Just a Regular Irregular

The episode opens with a quick refresher of the second episode of the second season, “Solve for X”. We had met Harlan Emple (Rich Sommer), the mathematician who was solving a mathematics puzzle being completely naked in the brownstone.

Harlan is back. He is playing a mathematics game “Belphegor's Prime” and encounters the corpse of a man over the course of the game. He calls 911 and is taken into custody as the main suspect.

At the brownstone, Kitty Winter (Ophelia Lovibond) is practicing single stick fighting. Yes, the people behind Elementary clearly love showing this over and over again.

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There is a knife thrower in the apartment and Sherlock is taking his help in solving the mystery behind a circus accident in the 50s. This talented individual is none other than NFL Legend Phillip Simms playing himself.

Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) offers a chance to Kitty to spy on one Keswick. Kitty claims to work only for Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and refuses to help Joan, despite being offered a share of Joan's commission.

Sherlock comes to Harlan's rescue and takes up the responsibility lf clearing his name. Harlan informs Sherlock that there were a total of nine competitors, including himself, in the game.

Harlan Emple Rich Sommer with Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 3 Just a Regular Irregular

One of the other players is Beka (Audrey Lynn Weston). She corrects Harlan that there were totally sixteen players. Next on the list is Paul Ladesma (Jacob Pitts). Paul explains about an anonymous mathematician who has been exposing government secrets.

Sherlock deduces that Harlan is the person Paul is after. I can go on with the rest of the plot, but this is the bottom line: This is hands down the weakest episode of the third season.

The mystery component was OK. The initial setup was interesting, but the rest of the episode did not live up the expectations.

The worst part was the handling of the conclusion. Readers familiar with Elementary know that the murderer/culprit is usually the character who is introduced and disappears shortly. By this rule, I had guessed the killer to be either Beka or Paul. 

Sherlock anonymously calls Paul and gives him Harlan's address. In the next scene (after the commercial break), we see Sherlock meeting Harlan at his place.

While Sherlock explains to Harlan, an unseen person is seen approaching. I was hoping that this person would turn out to be Beka. But it is none other than Paul, whom we just saw being contacted by Sherlock in the previous scene.

I was just dumbfounded by this revelation. What was the use of building up so much suspense when the resolution is so certifiably anti-climactic.

Joan Watson and Kitty Winter Sherlock Holmes new apprentice in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 3 Just a Regular Irregular

The subplot has Joan patching things up with Kitty Winter. Readers might remember that Joan accosted Kitty and engaged her in a single stick fight in the first episode.

Though Kitty initially refuses to work on Joan's case, she agrees to do so on Sherlock's instruction. With Kitty's help, Joan is able to solve the case.

In addition, Joan suggests to Sherlock that he have Kitty admitted to some kind of counseling session. Kitty is revealed to be a rape victim. Kitty acknowledges Joan's help and starts attending counseling.

Any readers out there seeking counselling can check out BetterHelp. As of April 2017, more than 1,500,000 people signed up to BetterHelp and over 2,500 counselors provided services through the platform.

Acting wise, it is the same story. Lucy Liu as Joan Watson gives the best performance. Ophelia is adequate as Kitty Winter. She seems to be going through the motions.

Joan Watson Lucy Liu in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 3 Just a Regular Irregular

Guest star Rich Sommer is good as the mathematician obsessed with solving puzzles. But his habit of going barechested is quite jarring. Speaking of which, he is not the only character to display male nudity. Joan's boyfriend Andrew Mittal (Raza Jaffrey) also goes shirtless after an unnecessary scene showing him and Joan in bed. 

It seems nudity is the norm when it comes to the recent Sherlock Holmes adaptations. In the first Guy Ritchie movie, both Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) both bare their skin. In the sequel, it is the turn of Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry).

Again in the BBC show Sherlock, Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Irene Adler (Lara Pulver) similary showed some skin.

The only difference being, unlike this show, the other two adaptations are much better in terms of production values, acting leads, music and pretty much every conceivable aspect. 

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