Is it possible to shake up a classic premise and without ruining it? That’s part of the test behind the new CBS show “Elementary,” which showed some early potential in the premiere due to the perfectly cast leads.
“Elementary” followed Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) who escaped from rehab early to revive his career as a consultant in New York after a fall from grace with his last job in London. Captain Tobias Gregson (Aidan Quinn) gave Holmes a shot at redemption after crossing paths in London years ago. He planned on giving Holmes some latitude in how he solved cases, but Gregson is keeping a close eye on Holmes just in case. His wealthy father hired Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) to be his sober living companion and help him stray from the temptation of going back to drugs. While Watson helped Holmes solve a murder, she was hiding from her past as a once prominent surgeon who made a huge mistake that cost her everything. Can Holmes and Watson make their new partnership work without driving each other crazy?
In terms of questions, “Elementary” will try not to entirely solve that mystery anytime soon because it would take a lot of the tension away from the show. Of course, the show will continue to test Watson and Holmes’ partnership on a weekly basis by allowing them to push each other’s buttons without any promise of them getting together. Although some of the cases were rather routine, the show tried to put a unique spin on them by looking at each mystery through Holmes’ eyes. It was interesting to see how Holmes was able to find a murder victim in a secret panic room with the help of a random marble in the series premiere. Let’s hope that the show will continue to put a different spin on each weekly mystery without turning it into a regular gimmick that nearly derailed TNT’s “Perception.” Fingers crossed that the show will also allow Liu to have her own storylines and examine more of her medical background down the line.
As for the cast, Miller and Liu make the sometimes campy murder cases work by focusing on their damaged characters are better together than they are apart. The show took a risk in shaking up the Holmes/Watson formula by changing Watson’s gender and moving the story to New York. Liu has managed to give her version of Watson a mixture of humor and sadness that wasn’t always apparent in other portrayals. She also allowed Watson to enjoy her own role as Holmes’ partner as she was able to find a key piece of evidence that exposed a murderer who thought that he covered up his tracks. Miller, on the other hand, was able to add a new layer of quirkiness to Holmes that made him much more complicated than ever before. Millers’ Holmes was good at solving cases, but he wasn’t a people person. He often rubbed them the wrong way more often than not. Hopefully, the show will continue to display Holmes’ unique personality without softening it in future episodes. Only time will tell if that’s the case.
“Elementary” premiered on September 26th and airs Thursdays at 10:00 PM on CBS.
Verdict: A show that had a promising premise and strong chemistry between the two leads.
TV Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)