Written by Prof. Jenn
If you are reading a site called Sherlock’s Home, you are probably a die-hard Sherlock fan. A Cumberperson. A FreeMan/Woman. Whatever. Today, though, I’m here to teach you that there are other vastly entertaining and brilliantly done Sherlockian things that exist that are just as good as our beloved Sherlock (dare I say better? Well, not quite in this case, but…). One of these things is the CBS series Elementary. Here are five reasons why you should watch it…
5. Nods to the Canon
I’ve heard fellow Sherlockians look down on Elementary as a cheap knock-off of Sherlock at best or a totally non-Sherlockian show that uses the name at worst. I disagree with these folks, as it’s obvious the writers know their Doyle, judging by the references and nods to the canon all over the episodes (I recently broke down one of the most Doyle-riddled recent episodes on my own blog).
Multiple references abound in Elementary, from brief nods (in a recent episode, Sherlock discusses superhero deaths, citing his personal favorite demise as “falling over a waterfall, locked in the embrace of his nemesis”) to full nearly-verbatim quotes (such as Sherlock’s famous “my mind rebels at stagnation” speech, which is one of my favorites).
4. Other Ancillary Characters
In Elementary, we’ve met plenty of classic characters. These characters have been written well for the modern-day New York setting, and all seem to have interesting tweaks from their original versions:
Mycroft is the classic super-spy (a restaurateur as a cover), but he also ends up in a relationship with Watson. Gregson is our reliable police captain, taking the place of BBC’s Lestrade as Sherlock’s main official “boss.” We also meet Lestrade, though, who is depicted as a drunken, glory-hungry fame vampire. And Irene Adler? Though she seems to be the usual love-interest-of-Sherlock, she’s anything but typical as… Well, maybe I shouldn’t say?
Several other pivotal characters are original to the series. Detective Bell is a great foil for Sherlock: a respectable, talented police officer who is constantly exasperated at Sherlock’s eccentricities. Former car thief Alfredo is Sherlock’s sober sponsor (now a friend), who is a fun minor recurring character. And don’t get me started on Ms. Hudson. Where did she go?
In this recent season, too, we’ve met Sherlock’s father, Morland Holmes, a scheming, brilliant cutthroat of a mogul who has a more than prickly relationship with Sherlock.
3. It’s Weekly!
A minor point, yes, but hey: we don’t have to wait two years between seasons, and there are around 20-ish episodes per season on top of that. So there’s a lot of frequent Sherlockian goodness to enjoy.
2. Weird Plot Twists All Over the Place
As much as Elementary is an American police procedural, and is written as such, I am still pleased by the writers’ ability to throw surprises into nearly every storyline. From surprise bombs to fatherly conspiracies to whodunit switches and back again, sometimes I actually don’t know how the story in any given week is going to end. Now if only they’d stop with the ‘show-the-clue, explain-the-clue-we-just-saw’ rhythm…
1. Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu’s Sherlock and Watson
If you read my Miller vs. Cumberbatch article, you’ll know why I appreciate Elementary for its treatment of the characters of Joan Watson and Sherlock Holmes. For all the limitations its police procedural structure brings, Elementary boasts one of the most interesting central relationships on “normal” TV today. Watson is female, and begins Season 1 as Sherlock’s sober companion, which means we’ve already got a nurturing relationship from the get-go.
As the show has progressed (we’re now nearing the end of Season 4), we’ve seen this almost-mothering dynamic become a fantastic partnership of equals. Both trained detectives at this point – though Sherlock will always leave everyone else in the dust – Watson has her own weight to pull. Both Liu and Miller are good actors: Miller with his twitchy vulnerability and Liu with her solid-as-a-rock Watson. And I can’t reiterate enough how much I’m glad the writers show no signs of forcing these two into a romance. Let’s hope this continues!
Have you been convinced to watch Elementary? Discuss in the comments.