Friday, January 30, 2015

Elementary Season 3 Episode 12 "The One That Got Away" – Recap and Review

Kitty Winter and Sherlock Holmes in Elementary Season 3 Episode 12 The One That Got Away

As readers might remember, it was revealed at the end of the previous episode, Del Gruner (Stuart Townsend) was the man who had abused Kitty Winter (Ophelia Lovibond) five years back.

The episode begins with a flashback to eight months back with Kitty Winter in Scotland Yard. Kitty is trying to offer her assistance to the official force on a case involving the kidnapping of Latif, a boy by a suspected pedophile, but is politely turned down. While leaving the Yard, she runs into Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller).

Cut to the present. At the brownstone, Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) refuses to believe that her boss, Del Gruner had anything to do with Kitty Winter's sexual assault. Sherlock tries to convince her that Del has the money and power needed to track down Kitty.

Someone is listening to this conversation. Shortly, Joan receives a call from Del, informing her that she has been fired.

Del is taken for questioning by Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill). He denies any involvement in the murder of Simon de Merville (P.J. Sosko) and/or the sexual assault on Kitty Winter.

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Due to the lack of any concrete evidence, the NYPD lets him go. Kitty decides to go back to London. She texts Sherlock that she has landed in London, but is actually still in the NYC. She is keeping an eye on Del Gruner.

Detective Marcus Bell informs Sherlock about Tabitha Laird (Jessica Blank), who had some bad experience in the past with Del Gruner. Tabitha works for Hearth and Home Foundation, a charity foundation, on whose board Del serves as a member.

Tabitha agrees that there were a couple of incidents involving Del. She insists that she has patched up things with Gruner and that there are no differences between them right now.

Joan pays a visit to Del at a function hosted by the foundation and warns him that he will be behind bars soon. She informs him about the meeting with Tabitha, at which Del becomes visibly alarmed.
Back at the brownstone, Sherlock deduces that Del had impregnated on his earlier victims and that that child is none other than Tabitha's adopted son, Jesse Laird.

Kitty kidnaps Del from his apartment and keeps him as hostage with the intention to torture and possibly murder him. Sherlock observes an elastic band at Del's place and realizes what has happened. He is able to make this conclusion as he had trained Kitty to break locks using the same tool back in London.

Sherlock tracks her down using an app on her mobile phone. He reveals to Kitty that she had saved him in London. He assures that whatever decision she takes regarding Del, she will always hold a special place in his heart.

Del Gruner Kitty Winter rapist abuser in Elementary Season 3 Episode 12 The One That Got Away

Within a few hours, Sherlock is informed by Captain Gregson that  Del Gruner has been arrested. His face is heavily bandaged and he is unconscious. Gregson indicates that he might have to go after Kitty, if she is named by Del as the person who inflicted the horrific injuries on him.

Kitty finally leaves for London and calls Sherlock for one last time.

The episode keeps shuffling back and forth between the present happenings in the NYC and the budding relationship between Sherlock and Kitty in London, a few months back.

This was a good episode. A bit heavy on melodrama for a Sherlock Holmes adaptation. For a change, this did not sound as phony as it sometimes does on BBC Sherlock. Kudos to Miller and especially, Ophelia Lovibond for making these scenes work.

Joan Watson wearing black dress in Elementary Season 3 Episode 12 The One That Got Away

Joan also steals the limelight in her scene, when she warns Del to let go of his tight grip on her arm, citing the fact the she is a trained fighter and is not just some hapless victim for Del to intimidate.

In the original story, The Adventure of the Illustrious Client, Kitty throws vitriol on Baron Adelbert Gruner's face, thus disfiguring him for life. The Elementary adaptation follows a similar thread, with the difference being that Ophelia's Kitty uses a nutmeg concoction instead.

With Kitty gone (atleast for the near future), it is back to square one for Sherlock and Joan. The third peg in the wheel is gone and it is Sherlock and Joan' show all the way from the next episode.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Elementary Season 3 Episode 11 "The Illustrious Client" – Recap and Review

Kitty Winter in Elementary Season 3 Episode 11 The Illustrious Client

The episode delves heavily into Kitty Winter's (Ophelia Lovibond) past and the abuse she went through. The man who inflicted the horrific injuries on her has arrived in NY. His latest victim, Melanie Vilkas is a personal message to the authorities and Kitty in particular.

As can be expected, Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) pay extra attention to this case. Joan is lucky that her new boss, Del Gruner (Stuart Townsend) is very accommodating and gives her permission to spend time, despite having just joined the company very recently. 

The local authorities initially suspect Melanie's fiance, Brandon Powell. But Sherlock and company know better and interrogate Ron Davis (Robert Eli), the man whom Melanie had met on an online dating site. Ron was supposed to meet her at a pub on the same night she disappeared. Ron declines having met Melanie, claiming that he found her to be less beautiful in person than her online profile picture had suggested.

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A strong suspect soon emerges in the form of Simon de Merville (P.J. Sosko). He is a known face with the NYPD and is heavily involved in supplying women for prostitution. Just as he is tracked down and the NYPD arrives to take him down, he flees.

Simon has a sister, Violet de Merville (Tammy Blanchard) who works as a nurse. She claims to have only helped Simon by stitching him up, after having a fight in a bar. 

Sherlock deduces Simon's hiding place, but is too late as Simon is killed before he can be arrested.

In the closing scenes, Kitty recognizes the voice of Joan's new employer, Del Gruner as belonging to the man who had sexually assaulted her five years back. She also identifies him visually, after looking him up on the internet.

Del Gruner Joan Watson new employer in Elementary Season 3 Episode 11 The Illustrious Client

Canonical References
1. The episode titled is a reference to the Canonical story The Adventure of the Illustrious Client” (ILLU).
2. The name of the character played by Stuart Townsend, Del Gruner is a shortened version of the name of the main antagonist in ILLU: Baron Adelbert Gruner.
3. The  character of Violet de Merville - In ILLU, Sherlock Holmes takes up the case in order to break the impending marriage between Violet de Merville and Baron Adelbert Gruner.
4. Violet looking out for her brother, whom she acknowledges was always different” - This reminded me of The Hound of the Baskervilles, in which Mrs Barrymore cared for her brother, Selden. Selden is an escaped convict who is now hiding on the moor and receives food and clothes from the Barrymores.
Sherlock Holmes and Kitty Winter in Elementary Season 3 Episode 11 The Illustrious Client

Being familiar with the original story, I was not that surprised by the revelation involving Del Gruner.

I did enjoy Kitty's impromptu meeting with Violet, that involved Kitty using her single stick to coerce Violet into disclosing information about Simon. In ILLU, Sherlock Holmes takes Kitty Winter to meet Violet de Merville in an attempt to dissuade her from marrying Baron Gruner. Kitty was one of Gruner's former mistresses and Sherlock hopes to convince Violet by utilizing Kitty's personal experience. 

I liked the following quotes by Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock:
1. Given the narcissism that consumes the modern epoch, a solitary selfie is a minor miracle. 
2.  A fugitive is more difficult to anticipate than an obsessive. 
3. Those of us with exceptional sensitivities are prone to motion sickness. 

The acting was intense, with both Miller and Ophelia giving exceptional performances. A good episode by Elementary's usual standards.

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Elementary Season 1 Review
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Friday, January 9, 2015

Elementary Season 3 Episode 9 "The Eternity Injection" – Recap and Review

Sherlock Holmes Joan Watson Elementary Season 3 Episode 9 The Eternity Injection

Alfredo Llamosa (Ato Essandoh), Sherlock Holmes' (Jonny Lee Miller) sponsor is back. He presents a new challenge to Sherlock in the form of “Odin”, a tough-to-crack sensor.

A Shauna Milius (Julienne Hanzelka Kim) arrives at the brownstone. She worked with Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) at the hospital and is seeking her help to locate her missing colleague  Marissa Ledbetteris.

Sherlock follows Marissa's credit card trail and finds her corpse in a dumpster behind a pub.

Autopsy reveals that Marissa had the DNA of a man under her fingernails. This man turns out to be Christopher Jacoby. His wife, Sarah (Andrea Syglowski) strongly believes in his innocence. Christopher also went missing around the same time Marrisa was killed. 

Mason (Robert Capron), the irregular last seen in the episode “Bella, tracks down Chris from the surveillance cameras installed around the city. From the picture, Chris looks shabby, in contrast to the clean-shaven face he supposedly maintains.

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Sherlock and Joan try to track down Chris, who is living as a homeless individual. He has been murdered. Sherlock discovers a journal Chris has been maintaining. Sherlock learns that Chris had started to lose his mind in the recent past.

It is revealed that both Chris and Marrisa received deposits of 1,50,000 USD in their bank accounts. Sherlock deduces that Chris was being injected with a drug “E-ZED-M-77” by Marrisa as part of a illegal drug trail.

The drug has been created by Purgatorium Incorporated, a pharmaceutical company. It is a time dilating drug that alter a person's perception of time.

Sherlock deduces that there were five other patients receiving doses. One surviving patient is Louis Carlisle (Luke Robertson). He provides the useful information that in addition to Marrisa, there is a black man aged around 40 who looked to be in charge.

This person turns out to be Dr Dwyer Kirke (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.), head of Ubient Pharmaceuticals. He is arrested by Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) when he comes to visit his ailing aunt.

Dwyer confesses to conducting the trials, but steadfastly refuses to disclose the identity of the person who sponsored his research work.

Sherlock Holmes Elementary Season 3 Episode 9 The Eternity Injection

But Sherlock is up to the task. He digs into Dwyer's background and discovers that one James Connaughton (Dakin Matthews) has been the benefactor who has funded Dwyer's education.

James is suffering from a serious disease and is supporting the drug trials in an attempt to prolong his life. James claims to have played no part in the trials.

Sherlock and Joan next force James's nurse Brett Won (Brian Lee Huynh) to reveal the details. In order to provide a closure to the victims of the drug trial, Brett provides the details.

As Sherlock, Joan and NYPD arrive to arrest James, we learn that he has taken a heavy dose of the drug to prolong his freedom before landing in jail.

Lucy Liu Joan Watson Elementary Season 3 Episode 9 The Eternity Injection

This was an OK episode. The focus is primarily on Sherlock and his struggle to maintain his abstinence from drugs. His solution to a working arrangement that involves Bella/Edward/Jacob (from the Twilight mythology) was another reminder of why this version of Holmes is quite unlike the Canonical Version.

Sherlock playing “Reveille” on Bugle to wake up Joan failed to generate any laughs.

Kitty Winter (Ophelia Lovibond) is relegated to the background. The scene involving her trying her hand at picking locks was funny, with both Sherlock and Joan providing her unsolicited advice.

A run-of-the-mill episode that should appeal to fans of the show.

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Russian Sherlock Holmes 2013 Episode # 1 "221B Baker Street" - Recap and Review

Russian Sherlock Holmes John Watson in the new Russian Sherlock Holmes 2013 TV Series

There have been many adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic creation, Sherlock Holmes. The Guinness World Records lists Holmes as the most portrayed fictional character of all time with 75+ actors having played the Bohemian detective.

The portrayals of Sherlock Holmes have varied based on the adaptations. We have seen Victorian Holmes (Vasily Livanov, Jeremy Brett, Peter Cushing, Douglas Wilmer). We have also seen many contemporary Holmes (Basil Rathbone, Benedict Cumberbatch, Arthur Wontner).

There have also been some interesting ones like the Robert Downey Jr. version set in a steampunk England. There have been animated versions (The Great Mouse Detective, Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century to name a few).

When I heard about the latest Russian adaptation, I was not sure if we really need a yet another series based on the world's foremost fictional detective. Will it turn out to be another run-of-the-mill,  insipid and boring shows that are made just to capitalize on the current popularity of Sherlock Holmes (like CBS Elementary) without any understanding or affection for the original stories? The answer is a resounding NO.

Russian Watson Andrei Panin new Russian Sherlock Holmes 2013 TV Series Episode 1 221 B Baker Street

Andrey Kavun, director and one of the credited writers, differentiates this show from others by putting the focus squarely on Dr John Watson. As played by the late Andrei Panin, we get one of the best Watsons ever brought to life on screen. 

Right from the opening credits (set to a nice soundtrack), it is Dr Watson who takes the center stage with his voice-over.

The first episode “221B Baker Street” is based on A Study in Scarlet, The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton and The Adventure of Black Peter with a minor plot element taken from The Adventure of the Three Gables.

In the opening scene, Dr Watson lands in London with the intentions of starting a private practice and becoming a writer.

While walking down the streets he witnesses a man getting stabbed. He tries to save the man's life, but is interrupted by a young man who is more intent on solving the mystery. This person of course turns out to be Sherlock Holmes (Igor Petrenko).

After giving his eye-witness statement to Inspector Lestrade (Mikhail Boyarskiy) at the Scotland Yard, Dr Watson is approached by Holmes with the offer to share the famous lodgings at 221 B Baker Street.

Dr Watson starts noticing that his roommate has his own quirks and follows him on one of his late night errands. Soon, Dr Watson finds himself rescuing Sherlock from a potentially deadly attack from a gang of ruffians.

Russian Sherlock Holmes Igor Petrenko using magnifying lens in the new Russian Sherlock Holmes 2013 TV Series

Shortly, Lady Emma Neligan (Olga Volkova) visits Sherlock at 221 B Baker Street to retrieve some papers in his possession. She is being blackmailed by Piter Kerri (Aleksandr Ilin), who has knowledge of the letters written by  her niece, Luiza Barnet (Elizaveta Boyarskaya) to her lover, Rodzher Smit (Dmitriy Lysenkov).

Piter's wife, Jessica is working for Lady Emma and is suspected to have helped her husband in acquiring the letters. Piter demands a ransom to keep this fact hidden, to prevent Luiza's impending marriage to a man of high standing.

The resulting investigation involves Sherlock solving the mystery behind Piter's murder, for which Dr Watson himself becomes the prime suspect.

Canonical References

1. Sherlock requests Dr Watson to stop using the French perfume “Le Jovial” -  Sherlock Holmes states in The Hound of the Baskervilles: “There are seventy-five perfumes, which it is very necessary that a criminal expert should be able to distinguish from each other, and cases have more than once within my own experience depended upon their prompt recognition”.

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The show is obviously influenced by the Guy Ritchie movies. Igor's portrayal is remarkably similar to that of Robert Downey Jr. In addition, the show makes reference to other Sherlock Holmes adaptations as well.

Russian Sherlock Holmes and John Watson Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin

The boxing match between Sherlock and John is a reference to a similar scene from the critically acclaimed Russian series starring Vasily Livanov and the late Vitaly Solomin. Another nod is the old man disguise adopted by Petrenko's Holmes. Still the most obvious one is Petrenko's version wearing glasses consistently - Vasily Livanov's version too wore spectacles, but on rare occasions.

There is a hilarious tip of the hat to Basil Rathbone, that caught me out of the blue and brought a big smile to my face. I will leave it to the readers to discover this for themselves.

The relationship between Sherlock and Scotland Yard is quite unfriendly. Lestrade and his men surprise Sherlock by being present at 221 B and push him around. This reminded me of BBC Sherlock and specifically, A Study in Pink which had a similar scene.

The late Andrei Panin proves to be one of the best Watsons - right along with Vitaly Solomin, Jude Law and David Burke/Edward Hardwicke. He represents the simplicity and integrity of John Watson very well.

The latest Russian adaptation has superb production values. The sets, costumes, cinematography and the soundtrack - all are top notch.

The show has a light tone and a strong sense of humor.

Highly recommended to fans of Sherlock Holmes.

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Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes