Sunday, 3 May 2015

Elementary Season 1 (CBS)

Sherlock Holmes gets an American makeover in the first season of CBS’s modern-day take Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu, Aiden Quinn, Jon Michael Hill and Natalie Dormer.

I’m a massive Sherlock Holmes fan but have grown somewhat disillusioned with BBC’s Sherlock as of late, or I have been ever since the third Season, where I ended up falling asleep midway through the second episode, and the modern day adaption of the character solving crimes in the 21st Century does sound kind of cool, but at first, I was kind of put off when Elementary was announced a few years ago. I mean, it’s going to suck, right? An American version of Sherlock Holmes that’s clearly trying to cash in on the popularity of Sherlock, with a gender switched Watson? It’s going to be terrible. Needless to say though, like Fargo and Hannibal, other recent, and highly successful TV remakes, I was kind of interested to check it out, and when I did, I was pleasantly surprised just as to how good it was even if the case of the week formula remained unchanged. However, I sort of stopped watching it around episode 7 and never really returned to it until earlier this year when it was announced that one of my regular go-to writers, Adam Christopher, was doing a tie-in for Titan Books, and thought that it would be the perfect excuse to catch up on the show. And I did, and as of now, I’m on course to be caught up with this show before the Season 3 finale, which is great, because I don’t normally have the best track record with CBS shows, with only Person of Interest being the other one that I enjoy. I can tolerate Scorpion as well, but that’s nowhere near as good as I hoped it could have been, and other shows that I’ve tried have been The Big Bang Theory, Stalker, and CSI: Cyber, are just flat out terrible.

Elementary takes Sherlock Holmes to America following his fall from grace in the UK after a stint in rehab. Arriving in Manhattan, New York, Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller), finds that his mysterious father has hired a new sober companion for him, Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), a former surgeon whose license was revoked when she lost a patient. Now she wants to help Sherlock get back on the straight and narrow, unaware that the consultant already has his own plans – to assist Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) in solving the cases that the NYPD can’t.

The acting from the main cast is superb and one of the highlights of the show. Jonny Lee Miller kills it as Sherlock Holmes, delivering a performance to rival Benedict Cumberbatch. However, the real star here is Lucy Liu, who is on top form as Joan Watson, and the chemistry between the lead cast is great as the show refreshingly avoids falling into the trap of a ‘will they or won’t they’ clichéd romance plot between the two leads that shows like ABC’s Castle thrive upon. Much of the first season is built around fleshing out the character development and it’s not really until episode 16 that they become a proper crime fighting team, but the mysteries are fun and engaging to watch all the same. Yes, they’re typically case of the week, and there’s very little in terms of overarching plot, but they’re often fun and engaging. Whilst Sherlock is restricted to three episodes per season once every couple of years, Elementary has no such restriction, compromising of twenty four in its first season alone, with second and third seasons having a similar count.

The show tackles an interesting twist on characters as well. Irene Adler shows up towards the end of the season, played by the always fantastic Natalie Dormer, who has a past history with Sherlock Holmes, and the show even introduces a transgender Mrs. Hudson (Candis Cayne) as another guest, and has Vinnie Jones play Sebastian Moran (one minor detail that did bug me about Moran’s character is that – not just in Elementary, they always seem to make the bad guys Arsenal fans for some reason), and there’s a very good twist concerning Holmes’ arch nemesis, Moriarty, that you won’t see coming an offers a fresh take on the character.

Elementary is fresh, engaging and entertaining. There’s some great elements of humour to be had in this show as well. The characters are fun and the supporting cast is mostly great, with Aidan Quinn and Jon Michael Hill putting in impressive performances as Gregson and Bell respectively, and the soundtrack and opening theme are pretty great as well. If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes and are open to trying a new take on the character and haven’t watched Elementary already, then I urge you to give it a shot. It’s the best modern day take on the character currently on TV and hits the ground running with a fantastic first season.

VERDICT: 8.5/10

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