The jury is still out on whether CBS’s present-day reboot on Sherlock Holmes, Elementary, truly works. In Elementary’s pilot, everything we assume about Sherlock Holmes is stripped away. The famous detective is now an eccentric, tattooed, drug-addicted young man living in New York City.
Even the gender of his partner in crime-fighting has changed and Sherlock’s companion is a sexy, beautiful and sassy Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu). The premise seems absurd, but Elementary’s premiere nearly works if you’re willing to drop most of your assumptions about the famous detective being a Victorian, pipe-smoking know-it-all for Scotland Yard.
Watson first meets up with Sherlock as a companion hired by Sherlock’s father to make sure he stays drug free. At least Elementary makes Watson a physician even if she’s a disgraced one. Watson gives up being a surgeon after her patient dies on the operating table. Watson seems sufficiently befuddled at Sherlock’s eccentricity although she doesn’t get mad at him often enough. Sherlock reveals he knows about her past from one little parking ticket to a pauper’s cemetery that falls from her purse.
The story does a couple of crazy leaps where Sherlock makes such a huge and amazingly accurate deduction it seems it’s not so much elementary as Sherlock reading the script. One such moment is when Sherlock deduced Watson was a surgeon from the beeswax on her hands and the lack of callouses on her fingers. She could have just as easily been an office worker with an affinity for beeswax over hand lotion.
Another is when Sherlock discovers the safe room of a murdered victim that somehow was unknown to the murdered victim’s husband even though they shared the same apartment. Sherlock’s first case on Elementary is interesting enough with a wife found strangled to death from a tall killer who left a big hand print bruise on her neck and a Size 11 shoe print on the door.
The premise is a bit of a stretch with the husband managing to get his wife to change her looks to a redhead; employ a former psychopath, Peter Saldul, who has an affinity for redheads; and then switch the psychopath’s medication to whip him into a murderous rage. It’s all too neat and tidy, especially when Sherlock discovers Peter’s cell phone in a bag of rice with complete recordings of Peter’s therapy sessions with the murder victim’s husband.
I want to like Elementary and the show could offer a fresh take on the famous detective and his companion. Perhaps Elementary is trying too hard to be modern and sexy and should focus more on creating solid, interesting cases for Sherlock to solve. I want my Sherlock to work to solve the crimes not just miraculously jump to the right solution.