ELEMENTARY (2012)


Creator: Robert Doherty
(Based on the novels of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Cast: Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu, Aidan Quinn...

Runtime: TV series, 60 minutes

Genres: Mystery/Crime/Drama

Reviewed by Catherine Spencer

I was predisposed not to like the new television show, "Elementary." I was already a fan of ITV's "Sherlock," and when CBS announced their own version of Sherlock Holmes with a female Dr. Watson, it seemed as if the network was riding on the coat tails of the British show's success with a gimmick to ensure an American audience. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how good the debut show was on September 27.

This Sherlock Holmes (British actor Jonny Lee Miller) is a junkie who escapes rehab on the day of his release because he's bored. He is a recent transplant from London to New York, where he is staying in one of his father's five properties. His father hires Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), a former surgeon who is forced out of practice when a patient dies on her operating table, to be Holmes' "sober companion" for six weeks. Holmes has no choice: if he's caught using drugs again, his father will evict him; if he refuses Watson's help, his father will evict him. Instead, he invites Watson to be his sidekick on a homicide case being investigated by a New York City police captain, Tobias Gregson (Aidan Quinn), a former colleague of Holmes from his days as a Scotland Yard consultant.

In the premiere show, a psychiatrist returns home early one morning to discover his apartment door kicked in, broken glass and blood on the kitchen floor, and his wife missing. It doesn't take Sherlock long to deduce that the wife's body is in the apartment's safe room, a room the husband doesn't even know existed. The wife's murderer is caught pretty quickly, but Holmes thinks there's something fishy about the case and doesn't rest until he gets to the bottom of things.

Miller's Holmes is a man capable of watching television on multiple screens at once. His hyperactive mind notices everything and makes brilliant deductions from what he sees. He doesn't care about social conventions, like dragging Watson out of an opera audience because he needs a ride. But he is not purely intellectual. Watson suspects that his defection from London was due to a woman. She believes that Holmes can connect with people — he's just afraid to. And Holmes does seem considerate of Watson's feelings.

Watson is pretty bright herself — she's the one who notices the murderer's rice allergy in his medical profile and the bag of rice in his apartment. She gets caught up in Holmes' investigation, at one point breaking into a conversation between Holmes and a suspect to question the suspect herself. She may not be Holmes' equal when it comes to making deductions, but she's no stooge. One suspects that their relationship will become more of a partnership, with Watson's compassion and practicality balancing Holmes' lack of social skills and obsession with sleuthing.

The writing was good, the pace was fast, the production values were high, and the supporting cast was fine. I think we have a winner here.

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