Elementary Series Premiere Review: Something Fun Is Afoot

Elementary S01E01: "Pilot"

Public domain, impeccable brand recognition and the insatiable American appetite for procedurals have summoned Elementary despite/maybe because of the excellent PBS/BBC version that electrified the UK only a couple years ago. This incredibly British property being rehashed through an American perspective is of course going to infuriate a few Brits (not least of which is Benedict Cumberbatch, who threw a fit about it) and you know, they can have that. I kind of get it, when I heard Jennifer Garner was cast in a Miss Marple series I lost my cool for a few hours, and I am as American as a Bald Eagle perched on the Statue of Liberty.

Re-telling stories defines them the way running defines muscles, streamlining and perfecting them. I'm not going to say Elementary improves the Sherlock Holmes mythos with the liberties it takes, but it certainly doesn't hurt it, and when compared with the original, I mean the REAL original, I mean black letters on white pages, the adjustments make for a contemporary re-imagining of Holmes closer to its source material than any amount of Robert Downey Jr. boxing his way through a dock of coal workers.

A lot of people initially gave Elementary guff over having a lady Watson. Holmes and Watson is the bromance of the century, and that makes people worry that if you remove the BRO you turn this series into the last season of The X-Files. The series itself plays with this a little bit: When Joan Watson first meets Holmes, he quotes awkward soap lines at her in a squirm-worthy moment.

However to these concerns I say, are you serious? I don't remember anyone complaining or denying the insane sexual tension between Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr.! Watson and Holmes are kind of in love with each other, albeit in a non-sexual way, and that's how it's always been.

The producers have basically taken blood oaths that Watson and Holmes will have only a platonic relationship, and so far that's what these two are building. And shame, shame, shame on y'all for saying men and women can't have mutually beneficial platonic relationships. That's why so many women get left out of office lunches, networking rounds of golf and other important social mixery, because everybody's got to play like girls got cooties.

I'd argue Elementary's version of Watson is superior to the PBS/BBC version's in how the show explains Watson shacking up with Holmes and tailing him day and night: Watson is Holmes' sober buddy.

That was the most brilliant stroke of the pilot. Being a sober buddy explains beautifully why she has to live in his house, why she has to shadow him at all hours, and why she observes him so closely that she can serve as a framing device for the story, just as in the original source Watson essentially existed to pontificate on Sherlock Holmes' mental facilities.

Plus: Lucy Liu?! Like many other '90s kids I see her as nothing less than a goddess and she's genuinely excellent in Elementary: restrained and frosty and strangely vulnerable by turns. When I first heard she was in it, I thought she'd be a lady Sherlock Holmes, and frankly I'd still love to see that version.

Harder to stomach for purists is Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock. With a corny tattoo sleeve and all abs-out when we first meet him, this is not the impeccable, dapper eccentric of 42 Baker Street but an addict "escaped" from rehab, continually at the mercy of an off-screen wealthy father. With flatscreens and BDSM and funny T-shirts Elementary tries hard to underline that this is Not Your Daddy's Sherlock Holmes, but this edginess is largely superficial—he's still an arrogant eccentric who talks like any improv actor given the prompt "Detective story! Go!"

I do appreciate turning the Sherlock Holmes archetype on its head by introducing him as an addict first, a genius second. Traditionally Sherlock is introduced as a flamboyantly clever walking computer with a later reveal that he's super into cocaine and such. Traditionally the character's drug use only vexes poor Watson, it doesn't mean he's been living up in Mile High trainspotting in London like Elementary insinuates this Sherlock has been doing. Re-framing him as a hardcore junkie whose new addiction is the truth achieves what the tattoo sleeve and hipster boots fail to: It makes Sherlock a more provocative character.

As for the first mystery: Please do not expect me to go into detail about this or any procedural's B plot. A procedural's weekly crimes succeed only to the degree that they reveal more about the primary story of every procedural, namely the development and growth of its main characters. Just know that the next time you drop your cell phone into the toilet, rice is a desiccant, y'all.

However: I was sort of alarmed that in this first foray Watson actually discovered the clue that would crack the case, showing observational skills almost on a par with Sherlock, which, HMMM. Seems like heavy lifting for Watson.

Despite being based on one of the world's most reiterated franchises, Elementary managed to say something new about these characters while maintaining their essence, and also looked great, sounded great, and didn't bore me. PBS/BBC fans please don't compare and contrast, its a disservice to both shows. As an entry into CBS's pantheon of outrageously successful procedural lineup, Elementary already feels somehow both cozy and fresh and engaging and personally I'm looking forward to the next one.


More importantly, what did YOU think of it?



QUESTIONS


– Is anger over a lady Watson kind of misogynist?

– Can't guys and girls have a bromance without having a romance?

– Would a Sherlock with an American accent have been the Final Straw for Benedict Cumberbatch?

– Sherlock uses Google and Facebook to get clues. Has social media made sleuths of us all?

Will you watch Episode 2?






Comments (163)
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Robert Downey Jr.'s version and Benedict Cumberbatch's version of Sherlock is so good, it would be hard to measure up to something that good. So don't do it. I will give it a chance but after seeing the first two, I can't help but feel let down by this version; CBS should have known to stick to the Brits version, just mentioning London doesn't account for the fact that most of the Sherlock mysteries are in London. Although I will say this: Lucy Liu isn't half-bad, she's nearing the edge of okay. What's weird about this is that Watson in this series can easily understand Sherlock a lot more than both of the other versions I've seen, so that's a bit odd.
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So I read this after belatedly viewing the pilot of Elementary and I have to say that I disliked the pilot, it just didn't grab me and the chemistry between the leads leaves quite a bit to be desired but what really drove me to comment (which I rarely do) are the kind of bitchy comments about Benedict Cumberbatch.



Considering you want everyone to judge Elementary on it's own merits than these comments are kind of unnecessary not to mention have been debunked completely by Cumberbatch well before the pilot of Elementary aired and before you published this article.



He has said multiple times that he was misquoted and has been very upset by the idea circulating that he wishes JLM (who is his friend) anything less than the best. Please do you research before making passive aggressive and immature comments about people...
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As an avid fan of the works by Arthur Conan Doyle, this adaptation is matter-of-factly much further from the original source material than the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr. Certainly the films take their liberties as well, but at least the character portrayed in these adaptations is more accurate to the manic/depressive Holmes than this new Sherlock, who seems to lash out irrationally, disregarding that he is meant to be a character above such primal things.



The new Watson is a very weak point in this television show. I can understand CBS wanting to shake something dramatically considering the rampant success of Sherlock and wanting to define themselves as something different, but Lucy Liu is far from a "goddess" in this role, if anything her acting is as weak as this new character was formed. Making Watson a woman is going to lead to the inevitable "romantic turn" that people just love to see in the stars of their television shows, regardless of the careful measures you point out. The Holmes/Watson relationship is the foundation of this story, and is a tedious formula to play with. No one has said that men and women cannot have a platonic relationship, but the writers have inadvertently planted the seeds of a romantic relationship to blossom.



"However to these concerns I say, are you serious? I don't remember anyone complaining or denying the insane sexual tension between Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr.! Watson and Holmes are kind of in love with each other, albeit in a non-sexual way, and that's how it's always been." There is in fact no sexual tension between these two actors on screen, what you are witnessing is the closeness of the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, which the show Sherlock also plays with. A female Watson is giving the writers what I'm sure they feel is a more "acceptable" way of showcasing a romantic relationship.



Also, "I'd argue Elementary's version of Watson is superior to the PBS/BBC version's in how the show explains Watson shacking up with Holmes and tailing him day and night: Watson is Holmes' sober buddy." What you are putting down in the PBS/BBC show is the exact way in which Arthur Conan Doyle began the relationship of Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Hamish Watson. So is Doyle wrong in the way he wrote the books? I would say this "sober buddy" they have made Watson to be is a rather weak ploy to avoid saying the same lines twice within such a short span of multiple television series. The real Watson follows Sherlock because he is a transfixing, impelling character, not because he has no other choice in the matter. This makes their friendship seem forced rather than a natural bond that occurs between them.



The purpose of the Sherlock Holmes stories is not the development of the characters. That is not the purpose of any mystery novel. This may surprise you to hear, their purpose is the MYSTERY (see how I use your CAPS lock tactic to push my point? However, my argument can actually stand to reason), and so it is the plot of the mystery that should be the focus of the writers. If they wish to really capture the minds of the viewers, the writers should takes notes on Doyle's stories, and even those of their competitor television show. The characters do not develop very much in Sherlock Holmes stories, it is their relationship that developed for the brief period of one story, of which by the end they were staunch companions.



Perhaps you should have done a bit of research into the immense realm of Sherlock Holmes lore before doing such horrible comparisons to the original source material, the film adaptations, and the much more accurate show on BBC, Sherlock.



Also, don't say "PBS/BBC fans please don't compare and contrast, its a disservice to both shows," (in which you also do the simple grammatical error of "its" (which is to describe the property/characteristic of something) and it's (contracted form of "it is"), which any type of writer, including a reviewer of television shows, should know), when you have been consistently comparing this show to the other materials for the entirety of your review. This just shows that there is something to defend in regards to the interest level of the show (I give it a snore, because this is a rather bland rehash of other "American genius" shows).



You are an awful writer. I truly hope no one paid you to write this weak series of arguments you consider to be a review. Your attempts to aim low with slang such as "y'all" are almost as painful as your remarks in CAPS to try and push your points further, as if knowing they are weak and are in need of reinforcement. Rather than constantly comparing this show to the other adaptations, perhaps you should have focused more closely on the show and whether it is a genuinely good program on its (remember: "its" - attributing a property/characteristic) own merits.



Regards,

John Kyle Wallace
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I saw both episodes and while I really wanted to like this show I can't. While Lucy Liu is quite nice and doesn't do a half bad job as lady Watson but I really dislike JLM's Sherlock. He isn't the genius and I kind of find him a bit of a joke. Sherlock would never needed google or facebook because he would have read something of of the napkin that he saw somewhere in a trashcan. And what was up with the bees in the first episode and the freaking locks in the second? It makes him look like a loony instead of a genius. I also have some concerns about the cases. They aren't that hard and are really predictable, the cases on Bones or finding out the identity of A on Pretty Little Liars is harder.



I'm giving Elementary till episode 5 to get it's act together otherwise it's goodbye.
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I did not like the pilot. It never grabbed me. I'll try episode 2 though, because I heard it was a big improvement. I will say that this did not feel like a better way of throwing Watson and Holmes together the whole "sober companion" thing. Simply needing an apartment is totally legit. There wasn't enough humor. That was it. There was almost no humor except for the fact that Watson is a Mets fan (because the Mets are always funny). There is always humor to be found, so when it isn't written in, it's a loss.



As I am a fan of the BBC's Sherlock, I can't help but compare them in my head.

I won't compare them here, but I do recommend that anyone who hasn't yet seen it watch it. It's really freakin' good.

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I did not like the pilot. It never grabbed me. I'll try episode 2 though, because I heard it was a big improvement. I will say that this did not feel like a better way of throwing Watson and Holmes together the whole "sober companion" thing. Simply needing an apartment is totally legit. There wasn't enough humor. That was it. There was almost no humor except for the fact that Watson is a Mets fan (because the Mets are always funny). There is always humor to be found, so when it isn't written in, it's a loss.



As I am a fan of the BBC's Sherlock, I can't help but compare them in my head.

I won't compare them here, but I do recommend that anyone who hasn't yet seen it watch it. It's really freakin' good.

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I watched the pilot, it was fun. I would have just called it "The Mentalist: New York".
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i love lady Watson, when i first read that they would have a female Watson i thought it would be more provocative and fresh to have a female Sherlock, i'd love that.

i also loved the fact that Watson isn't at a total loss when it comes to the case and wont be there as a punching bag for Sherlock ( hopefully)

and sherlock seems more human and real in this which is always good, if i was doing a new series i would totally rip off House's character which i've always found that he was closest to the original sherlock and felt like a real person.



p.s. i saw Benedict Cumperbatch and John Lee Miler in Frankenstein and they were both wonderful, why do i have to choose?!
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There's just one problem with this show: changing the names o the principal characters would not alter it in any way. Whereas BBC's Sherlock riffs on the original stories, there was not a single thing here that hinted at sherlockiana of any kind - other than the names, that is. JLM was quite good and Liu passable, although playing the exact same character she always does. But I fail to see what, other than the main protagonist having great deductive reasoning skills (some of which were sadly forced or underwritten), this show has to do with Sherlock Holmes.
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My only problem is the procedural format (same with Vegas), if it can break away from it, it might just be the smartest show of the new season
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Is anger over a lady Watson kind of misogynist?



Not really. A big change like that is often difficult for hardcore fans of a franchise to welcome. I've never been a big fan of Sherlock Holmes - just never got around to reading/watching much of it - so making Watson a woman makes no difference to me. If someone wanted to do a reimagining of King Arthur, however, and decided to make Lancelot a woman, I'd have a much harder time accepting that - not because I'm offended by the idea of a woman playing a daring, brave and noble knight (or the idea of Gwen being torn between her King and her Lady-Knight lover,) but because Lancelot is, you know, Lancelot. He's a dude :)



Can't guys and girls have a bromance without having a romance?



Almost all of my best friends throughout my life have been male - I just never was really good at all the things the girls I grew up around were interested in, and only a very few ever became anything beyond that. So, yeah, it's quite possible.



Would a Sherlock with an American accent have been the Final Straw for Benedict Cumberbatch?



I dunno - maybe it could have made him feel better, in that it would be making this a truly American telling of the story as opposed to his very British telling. What it would have done to Holmes fans, however, is a whole different matter!



Sherlock uses Google and Facebook to get clues. Has social media made sleuths of us all?



Only those of us who can take that information and make something useful of it, eh?
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My only complaint is the new trend of lets remake everything the BBC is currently doing. I think that reason is probably the cause for more bad reviews rather than reviewing it on the merits of the show. I myself like both current shows and think there is room for both. Some people say Watson cant possibly be a woman as the role is supposed to be a man or for god sake its not even taking place in London.



Some could even argue that merely changing the timeline to make it more modern is just as drastic of a change from the original version as Watson being a woman. I will probably just continue to watch and see how it goes. Who am I kidding I will probably still watch no matter what as bad Sherlock Holmes is still better than reality tv.
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US TV remaking British hits is nothing new - we've were doing it as far back as "All in the Family," which in Britain was known as "Man About the House." Back then, though, the only British shows we had much access to were things that PBS chose to bring over and air. Now it's just a LOT more obvious when our networks start copying because we know a lot more about what is being made over there and have probably watched more than a bit of it, what with BBC America and online options.
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Once again, Americans HAVE to have it THEIR way.

The Burger King nation.
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You say that like it's a bad thing. I was thinking more McDonald's "I'm lovin it."
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I personally love Elementary. And I do like Sherlock, have seen most of the movies and the BBC TV show and I like this version. Jonny Lee Miller manages to humanise Sherlock. In the BBC show Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant as Sherlock, but not a very likeable human being. He's kind of like Sheldon. Immensely brilliant, but has no clue how to act around normal human beings. His social skills are in the negative. But JLM brings a vulnerability to the role. And I also love Lucy Liu as a female Watson that's also damaged. In the original stories Watson is always so superior towards Sherlock, because he can form real honest to goodness relationships with people and he has this air about him that nothing can touch him, but here you feel like they're more equal because they're both damaged and because they're both highly intelligent. And I like how they embrace Sherlock's addictions. In the books Sherlock was addicted to morphine or something and I know that in the movies RD Jr experiments, but they always make it seem like he's doing it to get better insight. Not that it's a genuine flaw in his character and that he also is just human. I am sooooooooo going to keep on watching it. And I hope the people will give it a chance. Why do people always want a stupid carbon copy of everything. This isn't supposed to be a remake of the British TV show. It's supposed to be something new.
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Sherlock Holmes as written by Arthur Conan Doyle is meant to be an entirely unlikeable character and human being, and is actually how Doyle desired the character to be, the author himself even hated Sherlock! Sherlock Holmes does not have that connect with humans, like you compare to Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, because he is meant to be the character of logic, not vulnerability.
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As a HUGE Sherlock fan i have my reservations. Will the bromance really work with a female Watson? Maybe, I'll wait and see. But my biggest reservation is the case itself. Holmes is the greatest fictional detective of the century, but with this case Horation Caine would've solved with one knowing look up and a throw away line. For this show to have longevity the cases are going to have to be a lot more complex for Holmes to show off that crazy mind of his.
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I honestly don't care that Watson is now a lady, Lucy Liu is a brilliant actress!

I think people are too stuck in the past!

I think, you just have to give the series a chance, and you will be repaid by doing so.



Such as in Warehouse 13? They made H.G Wells a womam.

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I want to like this show. I'm a big fan of Lucy Liu and JLM but for some reason it just felt forced. Honestly I think this show would do better if it didn't have the Sherlock baggage restraining it. I like the BBC show and one huge advantage is they only do 3 - 2hr shows per season which allows them to focus on quality. I would imagine the BBC would get old real quick with 24 episodes of Holmes. The biggest key for the series IMO is both lead actors are likeable and perhaps they just haven't clicked yet. I will continue to watch and hope for the best.
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I think the best Sherlock twists i've seen is the movie "Without a Clue" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096454/) with Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley. In it, the real mind behind the crime-solving is Watson!
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"I'd argue Elementary's version of Watson is superior to the PBS/BBC version's in how the show explains Watson shacking up with Holmes and tailing him day and night: Watson is Holmes' sober buddy. "



My primary complaint is that BBC Sherlock stuck to the original story, and you dare call what I believe to be a contrived and ridiculous means of explaination superior.



In both the original and BBC Sherlock, you have to men who meet through a mutual friend and happen to get on well, and choose to share a flat out of necessity.



In Elementary, you have the son of a wealthy man. He lived in london,somehow managed to became involved with Scotland Yard, became and addict and subsequently entered rehab. Now he's out of rehab and his daddy has sent him a nanny to keep an eye on him.



It could have been done much better. I'm not saying that it needs to stick to the cannon in the same places as the BBC version, but I am saying it needs to be a bit less contrived.



I loved BBC Sherlock, and while it bothers me that Elementary even exists, I do want it to be good because I love the characters and I love the original. Unfortuneately it is not.
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lly liked this, not a thing not to like. I think contemporary Watson as a woman was a masterstroke.People looking to compare this should remember this is 21st century and not the turn of the century take on Sherlock Holmes.

I was looking forward to seeing Lucy Liu play a quirky kind of Watson she does quirky characters so great ( check out her lines blurring turn as a patrol cop on Southland!)

So yeah will tune in till this show is cancelled!
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Reading most of these negative reviews makes me feel like I've accidentally found myself on a BBC Sherlock forum. Stop comparing the two shows, please.



Personally, I like BBC Sherlock and I like Elementary. I adore Lucy Liu and think she stole the show. I do need JLM to get more comfortable in his Sherlock, just because I think his performance was a bit... much(?) But I'm sure he'll find his stride as the show continues.
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Seems most of the earlier initial negative reviews, including mine, were deleted. Tsk tsk. Guess it doesn't take much to spin this to an early grave.
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the case was boring and predictable,i can't tell about the characters yet, i'll have to watch one or two episodes.
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Of course it was predictable you twit it was based on one of Holmes' most well known stories/case.
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I've never read the Sherlock Holmes stories but even I could see where this case was heading. The cases are very predictable and i think that because of the whole focus lies on were the relationship between Sherlock and lady Watson is going.
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I really enjoyed this, I like the idea of a lady Watson
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I really hope Elementary is NOT a CBS procedural because they are all predictable and a bit boring. When I first watched CSI I was ingrossed until 4 eps in, I realised that it was following a set pattern for it's eps. Unfortunately, House and Law & Order do the same now but they have the main characters, personalities taking attention away from the tedium. If Elementary is going to be like this then I shall have to decline.



I will also disagree on making Watson a woman and then making her a sober companion to explain why she follows Holmes. If she was a man as in the original (or if both were women) then no explanation would be needed for the two moving in together other than to pay the rent...Elementary gives Holmes an off-screen wealthy father who he wants to mooch off of, so he don't need a roommate.



Elementary may be a good procedural but its a rubbish Sherlock Holmes.
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Premiere IMO was boring. I won't watch more - unless it gets renewed for season 2, then I might play catch up.
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I kind of liked it as a murder mystery show.



But it doesn't feel like it has anything to do with Sherlock Holmes. Calling it a new Sherlock was done by the show and not by the fans, so they of course ask to get compared to BBC Sherlock. And lose by far. BBC is a universe in front, in quality of acting and writing. Even though I really like Lucy Liu, probably the only new idea of the show.



So yes, it's worth watching. Its a nice murder mystery show. But I'm not even anywhere near to desperately wait for the next episode, as I am with BBC Sherlock.
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I am a huge fan of the BBC Sherlock, but that's not why I detested this pilot. Elementary is boring, pure and simple, and no amount of gimmicky casting a female Watson (although Lucy Liu's frosty performance was the only good thing about the show, but not enough to save it) is going to change that. I tried so hard to watch and evaluate with an open mind, but in the end I was so bored I turned it off with only 5 minutes left, that was how little I cared what happened.
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Lily tried here to argue that the main problem we (Elementary-haters) have with this show is Watson being a woman. Honestly, before actually watching the episode I thought the same - that the problem would be in HER.

Nope, I was wrong all the way. During watching I didn't think about it even once being too busy fuming over everything else. THIS was not Sherlock Holmes! At all! A couple of details (addiction, eccentricity, deduction) doesn't make JLM Sherlock! (House looked more like Sherlock if anything.) There was no atmosphere, no mystery, no personal tragedy - yeah, they TALKED about it a lot, but they didn't SHOW us.

It's another CBS procedural, not Sherlock - THAT'S my main problem. I can't see how British Sherlock fans could like it even a little.
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I feel like you can Love Love Love BBC's SHerlock and still enjoy this on a different level. This Sherlock is more about feelings and the psychology of Watson and Sherlock, the BBC is the purists' version where it really is just building incredible mysteries from delightful detail. I looooove the BBC version, but for whatever reason I don't feel forced to choose.
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I love BBC's Sherlock. I wish I could just enjoy them both, and not compare, but I can't seem to. I was a little disappointed after Elementary's pilot, simply because it's not as brilliant. I know that is not completely fair to Elementary, and I will keep watching to see if it develops into something I can enjoy, but I doubt I will ever enjoy it as much as I do BBC's Sherlock. Maybe I will like the next episode better because my expectations are no longer crazy high.
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But the Sherlock fanbase would not be so huge if it were simply just mysteries. Obviously the stories are told extremely well, but in fact, the best thing about Sherlock is it's ability to fun, and clever, and be emotional in it's very own subtle way (but never so subtle that we miss it). With Elementary it looks like it's trying to take the classic story of Sherlock Holmes, an incredibly clever man with very few friends who is driven by the need to solve mysteries - and bring only the name to the show. My problem with Elementary is that it uses the name 'Sherlock Holmes' and 'Watson' for it's two main characters. I don't care that Watson's a female. The problem for me in Elementary is that it may as well call it's main characters Victor Green and Regina Dubray and it would be basically unrecognizable asa story about Sherlock Holmes. It's using the name to tell another story. Whereas BBC's Sherlock has the same characters, with it's own twists, but it takes what MAKES Conan Doyle's novels and brings them into modern times, and it's still very clearly Sherlock Holmes. This? Not so much.
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I do not agree with you on this "This Sherlock is more about feelings and the psychology of Watson and Sherlock".

In the BBC version, the "pyschology" is shown, not told ; it is implicit but it's there, as Atlandida wrote.

If by psychology you mean in the CBS version, Sherlock and Joan talk about feelings, the BBC version show us ; look at episode 2x02 when Sherlock admits to Watson , against his own will, that he's his only friend ! If that's not psychology, then what is it ?

But, against all odds, I didn't dislike the CBS version ; I think I'll watch it as any other procedural, while grading essays ...



Thanks for your recap !
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I think there's a great deal of character development and relationship time given to the BBC version. But I agree that Elementary has a different feel which puts it in its own category. I like it. I'm from London, I love the Beeb's version and I love this too.

I want this show to do well.

Nice review btw Lily :)
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When I first heard of this show I thought the idea of basing it in America was awful. Baker street in particular seems essential to the world of Sherlock Holmes. I decided, however, that the best way to watch 'elementary' was to forget that it had anything to do with the English Holmes and just take it as a new TV show.



I found it watch-able, but not particularly exciting. I probably will watch episode 2, but it won't be a show I look forward to every week. I am hoping it gets more interesting as the show progresses and the characters more established.



Also, even though I personally don't have a problem with a female Watson, I think that's because I have decided to take this as a new idea. I can understand why fans of the original Holmes would not want his companion to be changed so much as to be made into a woman.
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It's perfectly possible to write a fe/male friendship without sexual tension. The question should be do the writers want to.
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Sheldon and Penny

Though I hate Sheldon because I think the writers have polarized his character too far, this is actually a pretty good example of a platonic fe/male relationship. It is particularly relevant to this Holmes and Joan's situation.
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That's more an example of a neuter-female relationship.
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Dr. Hank Lawson and Divya Katdare
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Veronica Mars and Wallace Fennel.
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Elementary is just a generic crime procedural. Nothing special.



There has also already been another American version of Sherlock Holmes: Detective Robert Goren in Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
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Surprisingly interesting version of both Holmes and Watson. Entertaining, but I would not call either of them likeable and that is not a bad thing because it makes them more intriguing. The procedural was nothing spectacular, it was fun to watch the way this flawed Holmes is alternatively brilliant and well sort of Walter Bishop-like in his seriously challenged social skills.

I never worshiped at the Lucy Lui throne and still don't get why people think she is such a goddess. (Truth be told, this is the first thing I have ever seen her in.) Her Watson was alright. Seemed a little too tightly wound and with zero comedic relief. So like I said, both characters were intriguing, but not likeable people.

I know it is not supposed to be there (and believe me, I am the last person to like or care about this sort of tripe), but something in Holmes's eyes when he looked at Watson a couple of times sure looked either sappy crush-like or vaguely erotic. Tell me I am seeing things.

I am cautiously optimistic about the next few episodes.

(And I still have zero interest int he BBC version.)
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After watching the exceptional BBC's Sherlock, Elementary looks like a poor imitation.
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I thought it wasn't bad for a pilot, but it was a totally generic US crime show with totally generic lead characters and I just couldn't see any reason for calling the leads Holmes and Watson other than to cash in on the BBC!Sherlock hype. They could have been called Jones and Smith and it wouldn't have changed a thing.
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Actually Elementary isn't the first Americanized retelling of the Sherlock/Holmes dynamic. It's not even the first to portray Watson as a woman. There was a 1976 made for TV movie entitled "Return of the World's Greatest Detective" starring Larry Hagman and Jenny O'Hara.



In that incarnation, a cop named Sherman Holmes wakes from a head injury believing himself to be the great detective Sherlock The woman who treats him is named Dr. Joan Watson, who subsequently finds herself involved in his adventures.



Then in 1987 there was another TV movie entitled The Return of Sherlock Holmes starring Michael Pennington and Margaret Colin. In that one Colin plays a private detective named Jane Watson, who is a descedant of the real Dr. Watson. She inherits his house and discovers a cryogenicly frozen Sherlock Holmes in the basement. She thaws him out and together they begin solving crimes.



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You know what I want to see. An eccentric brilliant female who is the product of every human race and some alien race mixed together team up with a robot solving crimes on Mars.



Im confused why people are attacking the idea of Watson and Holmes or for that matter the setting. You know what they say, all the great stories have already been told and all anything is, is just a rehash of what has been done (Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again) . If you think about it, House, Bones, The Mentalist, insert any buddy show where the main character is incredibly smart and solves some problem because of their keen sense of observation and deduction is really copying Holmes (which probably copies some other idea), just like how any romance that is ill fated is coping R&J.



Im actually surprised by how not too serious the show too itself. I honestly expected something a lot more dark and gritty (like I expect Arrow will be), but Elementary was surprisingly a lot more light hearted than I imagined it would be. The show wasn't OH MY GOSH THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER I MUST WATCH IT RIGHT NOW!!! But it wasn't bad. I actually like this take on Holmes. He's a bit awkward, has a bit of a tempter but he realizes these things.



The show is worth watching if you want any kind of procedural show and Im kind of confused about all the hate.
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-I think so. I'm trying to wrap my head around so many complaints about it being ripped off of Sherlock AND so many complaints about them taking such liberties as making Watson a woman. Either it's offensive because it's a ripoff of another series which was probably inspired by one too many forays into a fanfiction site (Let's be honest here...your average Joe who is/was a fan of the Original Sherlock Holmes has daydreamed about it in a modern era on more than one occasion...this isn't exactly an original idea, not like some of the diehards are making it out to be. The brilliance of Sherlock is that it was executed..not that someone thought up the concept. On that ground alone I can't knock Elementary for doing something that all of Hollywood has been doing forever...recycling other ideas.) or it's offensive because of how far away it is from the original. You just can't have it both ways. The biggest fear is that for whatever reason most people can't buy that Watson can be a female and still have a bromance going with Holmes, which is so not true. People immediately jump to the conclusion that there will be some hinky sexual tension (which still wouldn't be ruled out if they were two males honestly) as if that's the only relationship that men and women can actually have. It isn't. Half the time it's mostly the audience seeing what it wants to see. If you don't want to see sexual tension between them, don't set yourself up to scrutinize them to find it. For all we know Watson's a lesbian.

- Definitely. I'm looking at Elementary as an interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, not an exact replica. I actually look forward to how it plays out and I already like what I seen in their budding relationship. Fact of the matter is, making Watson a woman probably gives Holmes just enough vulnerability and openeness to balance out that traditional narcissism. Watson as a woman, the whole sober coach aspect of things, all of that...I thought was cleverly done and does indeed make Holmes a more provocative character and adds another dimension to him. It makes for another unique layer to the traditional "bromance" that makes it fresh.

- Probably. That would be sacrilegious!

- You show me a person who isn't part sleuth and I'll show you someone who's in denial.

- Definitely. I'm not a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast so I didn't get all hot and bothered and wrapped up in the controversy. I actually thought it was pretty solid and I like Lucy Liu. Works for me. Obviously we'll have to see more than an episode to get a real feel for how the show will progress.
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It was OK... the best thing it got going for it is being tagged next to "Person of Interest" - that's a one-two punch I will watch every week. You did it again, Les... you beautiful son-of-a-bitch.

But is it on par with "Sherlock"? Of course not. Then again, the mad genuis known as Moffat is behind that one and, by sticking to the original materials more closely than Robert Doherty and his team will ever be able to, he only needed to come up with 6 episodes thus far. So it will be interesting to see, with far more stories to come up with, if "Elementary" could eventually surpass its predecessor by making its characters more compelling. Good writing can make it happen - I just don't know right now if they have want it takes or not. We'll know soon enough...

By the way, the whole Sherlock-got-into-drugs-because-of-a-girl... does that mean he already meant Irene Adler? What about Mycroft - should we even expect him to appear at all in this incarnation? And, of course, there's M.... Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but for me, "Elementary" will rise or crash solely on how the bad professor will be portray (and he BETTER be portray - there's no such thing as Holmes without Moriarty. It would be like the Doctor without the Master around - just ridiculous...) I don't see how whoever takes on that role could ever be as insanely awesome as Andrew Scott was in the Moffat version, but, as long as he can be more fun to watch than Jared Harris was in "Game of Shadows", which shouldn't be HARD AT ALL, then we would have a winning villain to watch out for.

So, yeah, I'm in... by the way, when is "Sherlock" coming back again?
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First of all, I'd like to thank the BBC Sherlock fandom once again for making me want to watch Elementary. I'm not an American nor a Brit, so I couldn't care less about all the drama and the bitching, I care about the show itself. I watched Elementary and I loved it. Miller and Liu were excellent. I enjoyed the storyline and the characters. I'll be watching it.
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I'm a huge fan of Doyles original stories, so the only comparison I'll be doing here is to him, and possibly to other generic procedurals. First I'll say I will be giving the show a chance, it is by no means a must watch for me but I'll give it 5 episodes or so to become one.



A female Watson is a tricky subject, not because of the bromance; not because men and women can't have plutonic relationships in real life; but because men and women can't have platonic relationships on screen. Name the last (American) tv show where the male/female relationship stayed platonic. It's just the nature of the beast, views see two people with chemistry and they want them to hook up. Alternatively, take away that chemistry and no one is going to watch it. If they genuinely keep the two in the roles that were defined by Doyle (friends and working partners), the roles that have kept fans coming back to the stories over and over again, I'm fine with a woman Watson.



I do have a problem with the level of intelligence of this Holmes. The deductions being made didn't seem any more brilliant than something a regular detective could make: The volume of broken glass suggests 2 glasses; you're a surgeon because you have soft delicate hands and use beeswax (I would mention the idea of a mani/pedi to him and show him some berts beeswax commonly possessed by many people). Holmes is supposed to be the smartest man in the room, but it's not enough to make everyone else morons, or make his deductions seem like grasping at straws. I will admit that the googling of Watson's parents and the line that you can't deduce everything did make me laugh but I'm torn on what that says about this version of the character.



As for the article that quotes Cumberbatch as ripping on the show he claims to have been misquoted (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/24/benedict-cumberbatch-elementary_n_1908478.html).

There are many articles citing the misquote saying that Cumberbatch's only hesitation to Miller taking the role was that they would be in a position to be compared (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/benedict-cumberbatch-jonny-lee-miller-elementary-sherlock-366932)

He brought up a good point that "Over 70 actors have played this exceptional character before us. To say that there can be only one Holmes would be ludicrous."
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RE: The last show with platonic male / female leads.



"Monk" ran for 8 seasons, and never once did romance even cross my mind with respect to Monk and Sharona or Monk and Natalie!



This show actually reminds me of 'Monk' a bit. Crazy, genius consultant for the police being babysat by a beautiful woman (with hopefully NO romance in sight)
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Monk's still in a relationship with his dead wife. And any pairing where one of them is mentally damaged doesn't really count.
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RE: The last US Show with platonic male/female leads.



Warehouse 13. [Both major lead pair and minor lead pair are in platonic relationships].
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and the minor lead pair includes a gay guy..
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Oh please. Those 2 ooze sexual tension. If the show goes on long enough they'll hook up. Platonic doesn't just mean they're not dating. Pete would jump Micah's bones in .02 seconds flat if she offered.
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First off, when you post a review with a comments section please DO NOT tell us what we can and cannot comment on. Given that the most obvious comparison to this watered down Americanization of Sherlock Holmes would be the BBC series "Sherlock," who are you to take that comparison off the table? "Elementary" is lucky to be mentioned in the same breath as "Sherlock" and the only "disservice" in that comparison is to the latter. Second, get your facts in order. "Sherlock" wasn't only a hot property in the UK (and US) "a couple of years ago." The third series is currently in production with series 2 having aired this year. That's why the BBC and the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle flipped out when CBS announced "Elementary." It is also worth noting that Holmes was more than a cocaine (and morphine and opium) addict. His use of these and other drugs was integral to the very fiber of his being. It is both a tragic flaw and, in his mind, food for his powers of deduction. "Sherlock" has done an incredible job of using the drug addiction in smart and often funny ways. They tease and flirt with it and never really confirm that their Holmes is addicted to anything more than nicotine. It's the same clever way the show uses the "bromance" (a word I hate, btw) between Holmes and Watson when other characters frequently assume they are a couple. It's these kind of layered, nuanced updates that make "Sherlock" sparkle. It's also the complete absence of stuff like this that makes "Elementary" Sherlock Holmes in name only. It just another bland CBS procedural wrapped up with no loose ends and delivered to the NCIS/CSI crowd. If that's your thing, so be it but bastardizing the single most iconic figure in the mystery genre in order to deliver another mediocre crime series to the CBS faithful is offensive. I am all for re-boots and updates that are done with wit, creativity and a general affection for the source material (e.g. J.J. Abrams "Star Trek," the two most recent "Mission: Impossible" films, "Battlestar Galactica" on SyFy, etc) but "Elementary" is not that kind of re-boot. I was alarmed when I heard the BBC was doing a modern day Sherlock Holmes series...until I watched it. "Sherlock" has done what "Elementary" could never do: make fans of Holmes love the original even more, bring a whole new generation of fans into the fold and make everyone fall in love with the modern take on a classic. "Sherlock" is smart, dark, exciting, funny and emotionally messy. It's well written, cast and acted. The production values and melding of the Holmes mythos with a modern twist are without peer. Contrast that with the CBS version: bland, boring, almost humorless and without an ounce of soul or pathos. Johnny Lee Miller is just a quirky guy with a drug problem, a chip on his shoulder and a knack for solving crimes. Oh yeah, his name is Sherlock Holmes. He is, in fact, terribly miscast. Yes, a huge chunk of the most compelling aspects of the Holmes legacy are left on the floor when you cast a female as Watson. But, let's be honest, casting Katee Sackhoff in the role of Starbuck was not only brilliant, it pretty much erased the memory of the original "Battlestar Galactica" character. Lucy Liu is certainly up to the task and is coming off a very well received run on "Southland." A female Watson could work...if this show cared about that twist as anything more than a gimmick. It doesn't and it shows. That's a real shame because Liu is the one thing I liked in the pilot. Despite a lame back story, clumsy attempts to make her seem like a guy (she's a baseball fan! look, she wears a cap when she watches) and ZERO chemistry with Miller, there is something interesting going on there that, unfortunately, this show is not about. That the show is set in New York City (?!?!) is as offensive as not making New York City a character in the show. See ABC's excellent "Life On Mars" for a lesson on the right way to do a London to NYC translation. If this generic, wholly implausible crime is what they went out the door with (rice use to dry a cell phone...really?), I can only imagine the thrilling adventures yet to come. Oh, except I won't be watching "Elementary."
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Oh jeez. Take a Valium, will you? She CLEARLY wasn't telling you that you couldn't comment. It might work in a face to face conversation, but this is the Internet, and no one can stop you from rage posting.
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Holy wall of text Batman!
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Learn to use line breaks and paragraphs. And just write less. No one is going to read that all of text.
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I did.

11 thumbs up.

Don't agree with all of it. same as your comment.

Agree some line breaks could be implemented :)
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You know that you can actually use rice to dry out electronics right. That's not a made up thing.
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Staff
???? I meant please don't compare contrast while watching...you can comment however you choose, feel free...I never limit/regulate what people say in comments other than to say be polite to each other please.
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And here I was all happy you recognized us PBS people in there. :-)
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Lily, you must swap shows with Tim! Revolution with Elementary!! He'd probably rip apart this show as well! But atleast you give them a decent chance!

Even with all my apprehensions, I gave 'Elementary' a legitimate chance to impress me. You can't ask anybody not to compare the two shows! Its bound to happen and for good reason!

Before watching the episode, as much as I like Lucy Liu, I thought they would ruin Watson's character by introducing sexual tension and romantic subplots (which they will, in this show's last season if it gets renewed). But far from it, I agree with you. Thought she was great as Watson (except when she shied away from blood, which is quite sexist on part of the writers). On the contrary, Sherlock himself wasn't true to the original character. Miller's Sherlock is far too emotional and kinda not that much of a genius. While I adore Cumberbatch's contemporary take on Holmes, Miller came across as annoying and nothing else. He isn't more intriguing or brilliant than Mentalist's Patrick Jane and he is even less interesting than Gregory House! The case of the week was very boring. In fact, if the show didn't shove that he was supposed to be Sherlock Holmes over and over in our faces, we'd have never thought he was Holmes.

On a positive note, loved the camerawork which was straight out of BBC's version and the score was great!

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- It depends on why they are angered over it. Is it because of just the gender or because of the changes in the dynamic between Sherlock and Watson.

- Only in Hollywood you can't! In real life, you can be true friends with the opposite sex and be bros or whatever. All this friendzone crap is getting ridiculous.

- Lol!

- More like pathetic stalkers with no respect!

Bottom line, while I don't think the show was bad, it wasn't that good either. I didn't enjoy it. I may give the next 2 episodes a chance, but if it continues like this, I'm not gonna be impressed.
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The part where Holmes admits he knew Watson had lost someone on her table but had avoided it to spare he feelings was just wrong. In one of the early stories Holmes examines Watsons pocket watch and is brutally honest about it, at the end apologizing when Watson gets mad because Holmes had forgetten that Watson may have feelings. It's too far out of character for him to be sensitive like that.
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And Sherlock Holmes didn't have Spiderman Tatts either.

I think it's allowable to have some artistic license in there. It's not supposed to be a carbon copy of the original.

Furthermore, it's nice to show a human side tempering the almost autistic genius.
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Having watched all of Sherlock so far I love it of course. When I heard about this show I thought there was no way I would watch any of it. Not because of the female/Lucy Liu Watson which may be interesting if not done for cynical demographic grabbing or romantic subplot introducing purposes, but because it would inevitably be inferior and unnecessary. But I am susceptible to positive comments by Tv.com staffers so after reading them I needed to watch the pilot. I wasn't going to watch it straight away due to my misgivings but I realised I didn't want to have it sitting at the back of my mind for weeks or months, so I watched it and while it wasn't terrible I didn't enjoy it and will not watch any more. I think I can fairly say that even if Sherlock hadn't been made that I still wouldn't enjoy Elementary (at least they didn't Americanise it to the point of calling it Elemental). I'm eagerly looking forward to the next season of Sherlock which shouldn't be too far away.
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I liked it! I think Lucy Liu was a great choice for Watson. And even though we're not trying to compare, I actually think it compares favorably with the BBC version, or at least, is not anything to be embarrassed about. And, I really like that they plan to keep their relationship platonic. All in all, looking forward to seeing more of it.
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1. No. Having a lady Watson is sort of paternalistic in and of itself as far as I'm concerned. There are plenty of excellent stories with women as the lead, and you can always make up some more. Watson is a man and changing that changes the dynamic b/t the characters even if they are just friends. If you're a tomboy who hangs with guys you're fooling yourself if you think they'd behave exactly the same way if you weren't there. If you want a female lead, create a new character since you're reinterpreting the story anyway. Sexual tension b/t partners on a procedural is BORING. So is CBS, though, so I guess you can't expect anything better. Also, switching a female for a male character isn't exactly a new thought. I'm not really sure what they're hoping to get out of this other than having more men watch in case Lucy Liu takes her clothes off. But maybe that's cynical. That's my main complaint: not that they changed Watson's gender, but that they did it without a point.







2. Of course they can, but not on TV. Writers apparently can't resist going there.







3. LOL.







4. Nope, just stalkers.
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I was not impressed. It's rude to demand people don't compare and contrast similar shows because (let's face it) they're too similar to co-exist - and just because this one is American doesn't mean it's better. It really feels like CBS is slipping in while Sherlock's on its long off-season and with too much gusto. Joan is the only thing Elementary's got going for it and not enough for me to continue giving it my viewership.
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