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.