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“Elementary” is a modern day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. Set in New York, Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) takes up the role of sober companion to Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller). Sherlock is a former drug addict and fresh out of rehab, ready to take on more cases for the NYPD. Joan quickly discovers that Sherlock is like no other client she has ever encountered. This eccentric genius takes her all over the city, solving murders, kidnaps and more; soon she finds herself drawn into his work and his world.
Unfortunately the show received a lot of backlash when the idea was launched. BBC threatened to take legal actions over CBS as they, along with some of their fans, believed that “Elementary” was too similar to their own modern day adaptation “Sherlock,” which aired two years earlier and has recently started to prepare for its third season. CBS fought back against allegations, stating that “Our project is a contemporary take on Sherlock Homes that will be based on Holmes, Watson and other characters in the public domain, as well as original characters. We are, of course, respectful of all copyright laws and will not infringe on any stories or works that may still be protected.”
Further criticism came from the decision to cast Lucy Liu as a female version of John Watson. Some people considered this move as destructive to the famous relationship between Holmes and Watson, while others said that this decision was fueled by the producers’ desire to turn their relationship into something romantic. Writer and Executive Producer Robert Doherty defended this decision, saying “There’s this idea that a man and a woman can’t be together on a show especially without needing to be together sexually or in love or whatever, and this is really about the evolution of a friendship and how that happens.”
“Elementary” has so much to offer fans: not only as it is based on much loved character’s from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic but because it is a funny, charming series with great potential.
The dynamic between Sherlock and Holmes as they move from simply a client and his sober companion to friends is wonderful to watch. They argue, they laugh, and they benefit each other. Joan finds passion in detective work while Sherlock gains a friend he can confide in. In fact, most of the relationships on the show are thoroughly enjoyable. The relationship between Sherlock and Captain Gregson, which is sometimes close to that of father and son, contrasts greatly with the bitterness Sherlock often voices about his real father. The banter between Sherlock and Detective Bell as they try to outsmart each other while they work cases together adds humor to the show as well as some humility to Sherlock’s arrogant character.
Emotional drama in “Elementary” is handled very well, particularly in episode 12 titled “M.” We get a deeper glimpse into Sherlock’s past and a darker side to his character, which shocks characters and audience alike. And at the end of the episode there is a heart-wrenching scene between Sherlock and Joan in which we see the vulnerability and rawness in these characters that he had not seen before in the show.
There are a few faults to the show. The episodes can be slightly predictable; often it’s not hard to decipher who the killer is half way through the episode. And in more than one occasion they introduce characters, such as Joan’s family, and then they are forgotten.
That being said, “Elementary” is definitely entertaining and there are so many aspects to the show to look forward to. One example is how they intend to further include the villainous Moriarty, infamous in all Sherlock Holmes stories, who they have only just begun to introduce into the show. And there are other charming, original characters they have added into the show who would be interesting to see more of, such as Alfredo who is introduced in episode 8 “The Long Fuse” and becomes Sherlock’s sponsor, and even Clyde, a tortoise that Sherlock takes from a crime scene and keeps as a pet in episode 13 “The Red Team.”
The most charming aspect this season in the show is watching Sherlock take up Joan as his apprentice detective. In the latest episodes he teaches her how to decipher clues at crime scenes, how to trust her own senses and even tries to make her take up martial arts. Obviously no one quite has the skills like Sherlock Holmes, but Joan does show a lot of promise as a consultant detective.
“Elementary” has a lot to live up to concerning other productions of Sherlock Holmes but CBS has put their own interesting twists to the classic which makes for an entertaining new series. So why not give “Elementary” a try?