Television Review: Elementary Pilot

While at San Diego Comic Con, Fernando and I got sneak peeks at the pilots for three upcoming new fall television shows: Elementary, Revolution and Beauty & the Beast. Over the next three Fridays, we'll be doing sneak peek reviews. Today Fernando, our resident Sherlock fanatic, reviews CBS' upcoming modern Sherlock Holmes retelling Elementary.

Debuts on Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yes, yet another Sherlock Holmes interpretation is being dished out from CBS and under the title Elementary. Leslie and I were lucky enough to watch the pilot during Comic Con. I'm not going to compare this iteration of Sherlock Holmes with Steven Moffat's pitch perfect Sherlock on BBC. In fact, put those other Holmes out of your head. Take a couple of moments to clear your mind of those other performances. 

Elementary stars Jonny Lee Miller (from the ill-fated Eli Stone) as a British Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as an American Joan Watson. Yes, Elementary switched the sidekick from a John to a Joan, but more on that later. Miller does a great job as the very dark, fallible Holmes who escaped on his final day of rehab. Watson has been hired by Holmes' father to monitor Sherlock to keep him from relapsing. Another of the changes in the CBS version is the location has been moved from London to New York City. 

The rest of the plot is quite predictable: Holmes helps the NYPD by freelancing as a consultant, Watson is thrust into cases at his behest, and Holmes is always a few clues ahead of the on-case detectives. 

Miller really does fantastically as Holmes; however, this first case was not the best way to draw me in to future episodes. Elementary's procedural predictability is the biggest flaw in what should be a refreshing addition to the CBS line up. I hope that future cases allow Miller’s portrayal of Holmes to flourish. Future cases should also highlight Liu's acting prowess because her character seems to have more depth than we've seen on CBS in a while. 

Elementary has the right actors for a successful series. The big mystery for the rest of the season will be if the show’s writing can elevate to the level of the performances of both Miller and Lui as well as improve on the mythic persona of Sherlock Holmes. 

There are already many highly successful, well-acted, well-written versions of Sherlock Holmes, not to mention the original works. So what CBS? What is in this version that will keep me tuned in? I love Sherlock as a character and this has that, but a show like Elementary has to be more than that and this show should try to be more than that. The cases, the Watson-Holmes friendship, the city and the intellectual analysis all play a part in molding the Sherlock Holmes world. 

I hope that Elementary beaks the mold of other CBS police dramas that used to litter its schedule because some of the elements are in this pilot. Please, please let the rest of the season expand on the best parts of this pilot. I look forward to the rest of the season but I will be watching with fingers crossed. 


And here's a picture of Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu that Fernando took at Comic Con a few weeks ago.