Thoughts: Elementary is an American adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories that aired on CBS and features some large differences with the original source material, namely Watson being a woman. If you read my review for the pilot episode, which you can click here to read, I was extremely skeptical about said change and the series in general. To my surprise however, both Watson and the series were great. The majority of this review is spoiler-free and I will give due warning before any real spoilers are stated.
At first the series appeared to be just another procedural crime drama like other thousands of clichéd ones on network television today however, after several episodes it quickly separated its self of the pack with better characters and more likeable characters than most other shows and some good mysteries. While there were some mysteries that could not be solved from the audience's perspective, others were well written mysteries with just enough information given to solve it, although a few were kind of obvious. The first thing anyone watching the series should know is that Elementary is not a good adaptation in terms of being faithful to the source material. The problem is that the series does not resemble Sherlock Holmes compared to the source material (according to a knowledgeable friend) and only uses characters' names and a few aspects of said characters to make people want to watch it. While I have not read many of the stories (one to be exact and it was a very long time ago), I know someone who has read every Holmes story written by Doyle and I have read many posts by super-fan and fellow blogger Buddy2Blogger. Also I have always been a fan of many Sherlock adaptation and I have seen the recent films, BBC's Sherlock, many of the old Bail Rathbone films and a few other. However, I do plan to read "A Study in Scarlett" at some point later this year whenever I have the time.
Because this is a review of the series as a whole, any statements made are referring to combination of all episodes, for example Jonny Lee Miller's performance was excellent for the most part, yet there were a few episodes where he was not on his A-game. Now a look at the characters:
Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes: Miller's take on the character has a few of the same qualities as the many previous incarnations of the Great Detective and he brings something new to the table. His mannerisms are probably the best aspect of his performance. Miller is a lot of fun to watch as the, he delivers his dialogue with wit and often good comedic timing during some scenes. His chemistry with Lucy Liu as Watson is great and it is refreshing to see a non-romantic relationship between a man and woman, hopefully it will stay that way. A big topic of the show is how Sherlock is a recovering drug addict and Watson is his "sober companion" for several months. My biggest problem with his portrayal is not necessarily Miller's fault as it is the writers'; Holmes is a womanizer and with the except of the deceased Irene Adler, he is only interested in the physical aspect of relationships. Fortunately this is only covered to much extent in the a few episodes, particularly the pilot and "The Deductionist". Something else that will probably annoy fans is that Holmes becomes emotionally compromised, which interferes with his deduction abilities, contrary to the source material.
Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson: Yes, I know that I said making Watson a woman was a terrible idea but it actually turned out surprising well. She was one of the best parts of the series. Keeping somewhat to the source material, Joan Watson is former surgeon who became a "sober companion" for reasons later explained as the series progressed. Unlike many of the Watsons that have been portrayed in other mediums, Liu's version is much more useful and becomes a capable detective later in the series. Her banter with Holmes is often quite humorous and Miller is usually at his best when acting off of Liu.
Aidan Quinn as Captain Tobias "Toby" Gregson: Typically in most Sherlock Holmes adaptation Inspector Lestrade works with Holmes as his conduit to the law, in this version however, Aidan Quinn as Captain Gregson plays in a similar role. Gregson has a history with Holmes when the two were back in Scotland Yard and Holmes was working as a consultant. Quinn gives a solid performance as a typical New York cop. Captain Gregson is loosely based on a character mentioned in "A Study in Scarlett" (thanks Buddy2Blogger for the info).
Jon Michael Hill as Detective Marcus Bell: Bell is Gregson's assistant and often conflicts with Sherlock's theories, especially early on in the series. While there are a few episodes were he is given some character development, Detective Bell is mostly a background character. Bell is not a character from the Sherlock Holmes cannon, however he is named after Joseph Bell, who is credited as inspiring the character of Sherlock Holmes (thanks Buddy2Blogger again for the info).
Natalie Dormer as Irene Adler: As it is revealed early on in the series, Irene was murdered by the mysterious Professor M and is only shown in flashbacks.
There are two main opinions of Elementary. 1: The fan for the most part, absolutely hate it or at least dislike it. 2: Many of the critics opinion ranges from good to fantastic, but in general critics the reviews are positive. Being a critic, I believe the show to be very good and definitely worth a watch and among the scripted show I watch on network TV, it is the best. Also the series is often in the Top 10 most viewed shows every week and it has already been renewed for another season.
Overall: 8.2/10- As with any TV series, not all episodes are fantastic, more often than not however, Elementary is an excellent mystery series with good use of humor and entertaining characters.
Closing comments: Basically, if you are a fan of the source material you will probably dislike it, however I recommend you give it a shot if you are the least bit interested and if you are not a fan or just enjoy good TV it is definitely worth watching.
Thank to Buddy2Blogger for answering my questions about the Sherlock Holmes source material. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan I recommend checking out his blog, just be careful of spoilers in his recent Elementary reviews.
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