Hey TV.com, Should I Watch Elementary?

By Lily Sparks

Sep 27, 2012

There's no escaping the billboards for Elementary and Benedict Cumberbatch has already lambasted the Colonists for daring to make an American version of Sherlock. So should you tempt the fates and watch it? Let's discuss.

What is Elementary, my dear?

CBS's new drama is an updated re-imagining of legendary crimesolver Sherlock Holmes, only it's set in New York (although Sherlock is still a Brit because Americans refuse to believe they are as smart as British people). More accurately it's also an (unsanctioned) Americanization of the BBC's excellent Sherlock that premiered in 2010 starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

When does it come on?

Tonight, fool! Thursday, September 27 at 10pm on CBS. Besta recognize!

Who did this to us?

This is a CBS show. CBS is the home of many procedurals I would rather put a chopstick through my eye than watch, but this is different. It is. It's floating and arty and thoughtful. Rob Doherty—who also worked on Medium, Ringer, and Star Trek: Voyager—is the executive producer.

Who's Elementary geared toward?

People with good taste and sharp brains! It's a procedural for easily bored folks who don't usually like procedurals, ya feel me?

What's good about it?

Everything, basically. Lucy Liu is a superior form of human being. The twist on Sherlock Holmes—he's an eccentric, an addict—makes him more accessible than the original character, who is kind of nebbish and hateful. Also, in trying to be so edgy Elementary deconstructs the Sherlock Holmes mythos enough that the main themes get through in a very cool, original way. The satisfaction of the series lies in the promise that truth coats every human interaction like a tangible residue, waiting to be detected. (Such a comforting conceit, so much more cozy than our real-world consensus that truth is as elusive as any other ideal.)

Watson (a female) has a much cooler reason for tailing Holmes. Watch it, you'll see.

Also this series is set in New York, and while I love London and would pretty much rip off my left arm to live there, this show seems to genuinely film in New York and that energy is certainly infectious and gives the show a level of grit that's very enjoyable.

What's stupid about it?

People who are enamored of the British series will be quick to punch holes in this version, resenting the liberties taken with Sherlock and Watson. Don't listen to the killjoys! Although know this: One is not a substitute for the other. Watch both. BBC's/PBS's Sherlock should not be missed if you like great acting and mysteries being solved.

Okay, okay, cut to the chase: Watch or don't watch?

Absolutely watch it. It's smart, and sexy, and restrained, and all those things you like about TV. And engrossing. And kind of arty in a video-art circa 2005 way. I mean that as a HUGE compliment.

Can you show me a clip? Because I don't know if I trust you, stranger.

Use your powers of observation to deduce from the trailer below whether or not this series is worth the inestimable boon of your time and attention! (It is, but enjoy the preview.)

What should I drink while I watch it, my dear?

Methadone, because Sherlock Holmes is an addict. WAIT JUST KIDDING. Sheesh, cool it, don't call up the clinic! They got real problems. Fix yourself a delicious traditional British cocktail like a Pimm's Cup or a gin and tonic, then Instagram yourself pouring it down the toilet (because you will enrage your British friends, much like the Americanized Sherlock Holmes iteration has enraged Benedict Cumberbatch). Then settle down with some whiskey, neat, to enjoy this lovely series.

Elementary premieres Thursday, September 27 at 10pm on CBS.

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  • Aeidail Apr 06, 2013

    I'm sorry, I can't watch this based purely on the fact that Watson is a chick. It feels like America is once again saying it can do anything better than anyone else. They've seen the BBC Sherlock become amazingly popular due to it being an amazing series, and decided they could do it better. Except of course, they can't completely endorse that whole Watson/Sherlock thing the Brits have, so they're going to change Watson to a girl. Even though they were only shipped by the fans, not the show. Maybe they didn't mean it that way. Maybe it's a genuine attempt the reinvent Sherlock Holmes yet again. But to me, it still feels like back in the 90's when any hint of a gay relationship in foreign media was dubbed, edited or erased into oblivion.

  • petemonster Sep 30, 2012

    Just another procedural with a protagonist who has some kind of "super power" and poor social skills...just like monk, psych, mentalist etc. Boring! So far, JLM's Sherlock is dull.

    I prefer the BBC Sherlock.

  • Auriken Sep 30, 2012

    "Just another procedural with a protagonist who has some kind of "super power" and poor social skills.."

    Are you serious? I'm surprised you could write that without laughing your ass off and pretending that the BBC Sherlock isn't a protagonist with some kind of "super power" and poor social skills. Did we watch the same Sherlock?

  • kok_warlock Sep 30, 2012

    @Auriken have you even seen BBC Sherlock? What he is trying to say, it's not another generic weirdo solving crimes weirdly, the writing is top notch, the acting superb and the stories are extremelly good and compelling.

    All that Elementary isn't, a show which looks very generic and seems to be almost exploiting the Sherlock Holmes name as a gimmick to get more viewers.

  • assenzaforzata Sep 29, 2012

    I will say this, Benedict Cumberbach and Martin Freeman's throne won't be usurped by this version, but I still like it, a lot actually. I didn't expect Elementary to be the best Sherlock Holmes adaption yet, but it's interesting, and come on, it has Lucy Liu in it. And Jonny Lee Miller isn't so bad either, really. I'll certainly tune in next week and the week after that...

  • DutchZombie Sep 29, 2012

    America already had a pretty good version of Sherlock and it was called House.

  • kok_warlock Sep 29, 2012

    "What's good about it? Everything, basically" Seriously!?!? Maybe I'm just spoiled, because when I first heard about this show here in tv.com, I read here that other than BBC Sherlock, this was a new take on it, then I watched BBC Sherlock, so maybe that was a mistake.

    When it comes to a tv show, it's alright, pretty average, and trust me, I wanted to like, because Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are great actors imo, however, when compared to BBC's Sherlock, this show is just plain pathetic when it tries to make a modern version of Holmes.

    This show presents Holmes as another weirdo solving crimes weirdly, like a lot of tv shows on the air right now, forced stories combined with subpar acting, and overall poor writing, doesn't help it's case, don't take me wrong, it isn't unwatchable, it can be a good time when you simply don't have anything better to do or watch.

  • AkiraHideyo Sep 29, 2012

    Think they are trying too hard. If this Sherlock character can simply surmise the brand of your dental floss by just your flashing your braces, where is the element of anticipation? Elementary Watson, elementary. Also his character is way too hyped up and reactive and borders on irritation. The Mentalist gets it right with clever and logical deductions and does it with class. CSI is brilliant & goes for the jugular with facts. Sadly Elementary is not believable unless they tone down Sherlocks's "magic" powers of guess work. Is there anything he doesn't know? Boring ! Duh! Lucy Liu is great but is unjustifiably under typecast for her role. C'mon, this is the ass kicking femme fatale Lucy we all know and love in Ally McBeal and Charlie's Angels. Where's her elementary SPUNK - pun and kicks intended? Hope they rev it up real quick or dun think it can move past the next case file. Good luck writers.

  • Wraith_2099 Sep 29, 2012

    I guess I'm part of the negative group.

    I watched the 1st episode and I'm sorry to say but 'Joan Watson' ? That wasn't clever in any stretch of the imagination.

    When your 10 year younger sister groans hearing the idea and says 'That is Sooo not clever' . There's a problem there.

    And about the show being smart? I'm sorry ... but I'm not going to go easy on it and defend it.

    The twist of the episode ... we figured it out and was joking that how bad would it have been if it actually was the twist.

    and ofcourse ... it was.

    I guess my main point is ... Sherlock Holmes ... is Sherlock Holmes.

    He's not 'The Mentalist - Patrick Jayne' or 'Shawn of Psych'.

    THIS ... is not Sherlock Holmes.

    This is as much as Sherlock Holmes as Batman Forever, Batman and Robin were Batman movies.

    Was the show smart witty and fun?

    Sure ... if it was called The Consultant.

    But not the level a SHERLOCK HOLMES show needs to be. This is just any other generic procedural cop show out there with the name Sherlock Holmes thrown in.

  • SoLiOZuZ Sep 29, 2012

    I like the British Sherlock series more but I'll give this one a shot.

  • TVwanderlust Sep 29, 2012

    Forget the show...I LOVE reading your reviews Lily! Without looking at the byline I can always tell when you are the writer.

  • suzieqster Sep 28, 2012

    I like it A LOT. It's clever and witty and you need to be listening attentively so as not to miss

    any of the quips, asides, etc.

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