‘Elementary’ Series Premiere Review

Published 3 years ago by

elementary premiere sherlock holmes Elementary Series Premiere Review

Elementary may very well be television’s most highly anticipated new series, having a critical eye trained on it as television’s second Sherlock Holmes series on the air, following BBC’s Sherlock. CBS’s version, again, presents a modern take on Sir Author Conan Doyle’s iconic character, this time in New York City.

Sherlock’s character is set up as having already been established as a super sleuth across the pond. A drug addiction lands him in a New York City rehabilitation center and, upon release, he moves into one of his father’s least luxurious Brooklyn properties under the one condition that he maintains a sober companion. Cue lady Watson, a former doctor looking to save some lives after losing a patient.

As awkward as the premise may sound – using whatever Crocodile Dundee methods necessary to get Holmes to New York City – the actual execution is handled rather nicely. Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes, all tatted up and disheveled, is enjoyable to watch. His mannerisms are quirky and endearing, his ramblings are entertaining, and his monologues command attention. Miller’s Holmes may not be to the caliber of Benedict Cumberbatch, but his performance is strong enough to carry a series on his own.

Lucy Liu is surprisingly good as Dr. Watson. True, Liu has starred in numerous film and television roles, but the general response to her announcement was met with more than a little apprehension. Rightfully so, given the numerous Charlie’s Angels movies that nobody asked for. Fortunately, Liu’s role as Watson is subtle and nuanced, often helping to open up Miller’s performances and intrigue the audience.

elementary premiere johnny lee miller Elementary Series Premiere Review

Watson commands few scenes on her own, though they still manage to continuously slip in expository details throughout, leading to few impactful back-and-forths between her and Holmes. In a sense, Watson can been seen as the typical second hand in any character procedural, always helping to move the story along while the eccentric star does their thing, and there’s not much in the premiere that changes that. Even so, the awkwardly honest relationship that Holmes has with Watson helps to quickly build a relationship and attachment with the characters, making you want to see them together, and allowing Watson to have her moments to one-up her recovering addict.

Aidan Quinn rounds out the Sherlockian trio as Captain Tobias Gregson of the NYPD. Quinn’s performance is exactly what you’d expect from the famed actor, going back and for with Holmes, often annoyed, yet still respecting his opinion enough to go out on a limb for a case. Compared to all of television’s (many) other police liaison characters in procedurals, Quinn’s Gregson is one of the best.

Aside from its characters, what makes a Sherlock Holmes story different than any other tale of crime or murder is its unique story and approach. Elementary establishes that unique Holmes deduction and reasoning in spite of its tale, which takes far too long to become intriguing, leading off with a few too convenient assumptions coming from dirty walls and a tilted floor. As the episode progresses, the story eventually finds itself after a crime admission, leading to a relativity satisfying ending, though not due to the presence of Sherlock Holmes.

elementary premiere sherlock watson Elementary Series Premiere Review

As a procedural, Elementary is good, interesting – like so many others on television. In many ways, the Elementary series premiere feels like a television procedural with Sherlock Holmes as its guest star. Often times you’ll find Holmes obtaining the same type of information that any other television detective would in the same situation, only he’s rambling a bit more while doing it.

Overall, there weren’t enough familiar Holmes moments to make it feel like a genuine Sherlock tale – instead of just a version of The Mentalist, which itself is a version of USA’s Psych. Because it’s the first episode, you can forgive a few missteps. Character development and relationship establishments get rushed for introductions and such. Still, Sherlock Holmes is the center of the series, so there should have been more engrossing scenes to show off exactly what he can do. And using Google doesn’t count.

As the series continues, Elementary has the opportunity to refine itself, slowly falling into the storytelling freedom that a multiple episode order allows. With news of Moriarty soon appearing on the series, there’s no reason not to stick around to watch. For all the comparing and complaining over Elementary and Sherlock, the truth is that it’s a competent series which puts an entertaining twist on an overly-familiar genre.

But, no, it’s not better than Sherlock.


Elementary airs Thursdays 10pm on CBS

TAGS: Elementary
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  1. I love BBC’s Sherlock, and after watching it I actually like Elementary a little too. Sherlock is without a doubt the better show, but Elementary isn’t too bad and is engaging after you’ve watched a few episodes. Elementary is like a cheap substitute for Sherlock between seasons.

  2. Hi watched an episode the other week. About a plane crash.
    The crash looked to be something like a P31 Navaho
    Holmes mad a comment about being an aviation expert and then later asked if the investigator had listened to the cockpit voice recorder and later if the Flight recorder had been found.
    Well and good except Cockpit Voice Recorders and Black Boxes are not fitted to small Charter Aircraft.
    I would have thought that the writers would carryout some “Elementary” research.

  3. Yes the plane crash, not a Navajo it was probably a Cessna 400 series or 310 as the wing fuel tank was in the shape of a missile type shape. Yes the black box was definitely the come down as I really like the series but watching the way they spoke about the cargo hold ( there isn’t one) and putting sand in the tanks proved hard to swallow.
    Itl was pretty lame at best . Having flown 8,500 hrs in all sorts of light aircraft I’m used to digesting factual info and realistic action scenes when it comes to aviation anything, regardless I do enjoy watching it and hope the producers lift their game a little as it is a show based on the smallest detail catching the bad guys.
    If they ever do another one call me!

  4. Latest story line kind of sucks. I don’t know what CBS is doing with these invincible women. Just makes no sense.

  5. Elementary is in fact the way better of the two shows. The performances of the two main characters and the secondary as well are far superior to the British version where the actors are just caricatures. The plots are better (despite errors about small aircraft). The CBS Sherlock, is delightfully balmy and actually seems and sounds intelligent and articulate. Usually it is the British shows that are better, but this is an exception. Sure the British Sherlock is a good show, but by comparison it is shallow. (*Is barricading himself in the basement until the wrath of benedict fans dissipates*.)

    • I don’t know if you are kidding or not. Sherlock is clearly the superior television show.

  6. Definitely prefer Elementary over Sherlock. Cumberbatch is undoubtedly a twink with all the obnoxious flamboyance of one. Miller portrays a Sherlock of much greater character depth and interest. Even after a couple years, I still have a bit of difficulty fitting Lucy Liu as Watson. And now, with season 3, it appears they try to give her character a greater role in the show, but have only succeeded (so far) in making her into an ingrate to Sherlock for basically paying her to gain an education in a new field and launch a new career. And that, is not endearing.

  7. This new season is bizarre so far. Watson seems very bitter and mad at sherlock. Captain gregson’s marriage went out the window when it supposedly rock solid. Also he totally denies being a friend to holmes. If the rest of the season is going ti be this way just cancel at episode 10.

  8. Love Elementary. Too bad Sherlock doesn’t know
    English (or American). Electrocute is to kill
    with electricity, not to shock. Viscera does *not*
    come out of a hand.,
    Craig Anderson