Elementary "While You Were Sleeping" Review: Studio Notes on Sherlock

  • 90comments

Elementary S01E02: "While You Were Sleeping"

Are you READY for some FOOTBAAAALLL??!?!?! Is an inappropriate way to begin this post yet sort of encapsulates the "game day" tone of sitting down for the second episode of a series. The second episode of a new show reflects all the tweaks, adjustments, recasts and "forever" sets that will be in place for the rest of the season after the pilot was intially screened for the network. Not to mention souped-up, dramatic, artsy-for-the-sake-of-fartsy credits!

So my dears, I thought it would be fun to try and deduce what notes Elementary got coming out of the pilot for this second episode/rest of the season using my own fine sense of observation (it's not that fine, I'm continually finding Oreos under my keyboard that are months old). And so with no further ado, here's my case file of "Notes CBS Probably Gave to Elementary!"

1. "We love the addict thing. Can you do more with that?"

They went hard to the hole with the Sherlock addiction in this series. We learned he had concealed from the police chief he consults for that he was a recovering addict (considering he works for free I'd guess it wouldn't be a deal breaker) and he instantly recognized a meth head CEO because of his frenetic eye blinking and pulled him aside to break it down junkie-to-junkie to get some key information on the case.

Holmes also got hit with his most important clue while engaging in an AA meeting. Clearly the torments of abstaining from horse or smack or twinkle-veins or whatever the kids are calling it these days has but SHARPENED his crime-solving abilities, an original enough take but WE GET IT, GUYS. Please don't just solve every crime by finding the addict involved and threatening them with exposure?

2. "Have Sherlock and Watson's relationship be the major arc of the series."

Sherlock put a five-week clock on Watson last night, signaling a possible mid-season finale all about Sherlock convincing Watson to stay on as his legit valet versus his sober buddy. As this is an origins story, it's fair enough that their relationship would be a major arc and to arc it has to start low so it can go somewhere. HOWEVER… part of the magic of the Sherlock/Watson dynamic is that they are two people who "click." Watson is kind of dumb in the original stories and his medium-smart brain struggling to solve stuff provides a wall for Sherlock to bounce off of, and his doctor skills provide a factual basis for deduction. While TV/Lucy Liu Watson did get a little more engaged in providing medical clues this episode (she did make a coma victim slap herself)...

I actually really hated how much they talked about their relationship. His violin! Her ex-boyfriends! Companionship! Let's be friends! No we will never be friends! I don't know, I like the idea that they come together and immediately are a fit, that Watson, whatever his/her lack of deduction, can read and appreciate Holmes in a way no one else can. I hope they get there sooner rather than later because the relationship talk is t.e.d.i.o.u.s.

3. "Lose the bees. Didn't Sherlock play a violin?"

The episode ending with the dulcet tones of a violin was a detail I very much enjoyed (I guess he had two violins, since he torched the other one in a small hobo fire to make a point to Watson about relationships) because I love violin music and it's such an important part of Sherlock as a character. I also appreciated that no honey dripped out of the walls and the bees were totally missing from this episode (Holmes elected to spend prime bee-keeping time picking a bunch of rusty old locks instead).

I would guess we won't see the bees again, both because it's an unnecessary amount of bother and trauma to put the art department and set dressers through, and because it made no effing sense. (New York City bee honey probably tastes like exhaust mixed with pigeon sh-t) If they come back, I owe three readers a coke.

4. "Can you make the mysteries a little more complicated? This is Sherlock Holmes here, not Jessica Fletcher."

My main complaint with last week's mystery was that Watson basically solved it. Watson was again, this week, picking up clues at the crime scene that similarly pissed me off (sorry, but I like Watson more as a deductive foil for Holmes) but then as the mystery unfolded I was cackling like a middle school bully. TWIN SWITCH CRIME: The lowest of the low. AND a woman PUTTING HERSELF IN A MEDICALLY INDUCED COMA as an alibi!!! She just got high and napped for a week, okay. The premiere's mystery was a little too simple and the murderer was the victim's husband,the first/only suspect we met. For all the fancy footwork of imaginary woman/woman in coma/woman has twin it was very obvious from the outset what was going to happen. The only tension was hoping I would be wrong, because a woman getting high all day in a coma and then going out and shooting people is um RIDICULOUS.

And ridiculous though it was, we had no chance to solve it because the key physical evidence was a pale band of flesh on the doctor's hand that I think we only saw in flashback. Part of the fun of a Conan Doyle Sherlock story is you're presented with the same clues as Sherlock so you feel (probably mistakenly) that you have a fighting chance of solving the crime before he does. But there's too few clues to reason through anything in Elementary, deduction is downgraded to wild guesses, and even that is not what they want. They want you to just sit back and be impressed by the twists and turns, but they did not impress-a me much.

That's actually probably my biggest note to procedurals in general, there's usually only time to present two suspects for a case, one of which quickly becomes improbable by being too obviously guilty. Generally, you pick the person who obviously could NOT have committed the crime and BAM, you're done. You know how they could manage their time and flesh out the mystery more? CUT OUT all the Watson and Sherlock bickering & being touchy feely with their feelings hoo-ha. Hopefully once Watson and Sherlock become more of a sure thing they'll up the ante on these mysteries and make them more compelling, not through providing improbable killers but by providing misdirecting clues.

QUESTIONS…

…What key differences did you notice between this second episode and the pilot?

…Were you baffled/furious at how the mystery went down?

…Did you get a genuine chill though when Sherlock was like "Why do you think she was still in a coma? Who did she have left to kill?"

…Junkie vibes: overpowering the Sherlock character or fueling him?

…Put "you owe me a coke" in your comment if you think the bees are coming back & if they do I'll get the first three such commenters a coke.

Like TV.com on Facebook

  • 5:30 pm
    Thursday Night Football
    CBS