7 December 2013 | William_G
A different spin on a classic, A great show on its own merits
Like many people, I love BBC's Sherlock and overlooked Elementary for many reasons. I recently decided to give it a chance and was pleasantly surprised to say the least. First off, don't make the same mistake I did and dismiss it for some of the rather odd sounding changes, it's intended to be a different spin on the classic and does so very well.
Jonny Lee Miller plays a great Sherlock. He's more human and flawed, where the original Sherlock was almost cartoonishly strong at times, but he still has the same confident eccentric brilliance that makes Sherlock Holmes so interesting. He's a recovering addict aided by Sober Companion Watson, a modern politically correct spin on classic Holmes drug use that feels tacked on and out of place at times, but helps drive the character development of both Holmes and Watson.
The new Watson angle was a big factor in what made me pass on the show at first. In addition to the Sober Companion job, it sounded very generic Hollywoody to find an excuse to shoehorn in a pretty female co-star, but Lucy Liu is very good in her role. She doesn't play a shallow sexy distraction from the story, rather just a different sex portraying the same inquisitive, intelligent, adventurous companion that Watson should be. And (as far as I am in the series - fingers crossed) there's no pointless romantic subplots between her and Sherlock, just a straight played female Watson. Hats off to Lucy Liu for making a tough character change that I was prepared to dislike so likable and real.
The best part of the show however is the writing. Writing good mysteries is a fine line to walk. You can either give too little information and blindside the viewer, leaving them feeling shut out and just along for the ride, or too much information delivered too overtly and ruin the fun of following step in step with the details. The truth has to be there somewhere for you to see but not too soon. Elementary manages to walk that line very well. There have been times when something was too obvious or too unpredictable, but much more often the truth is cleverly masked until just the right time - a little before it's revealed, if you're sharp.
I went into this series with low expectations but very quickly fell in love with it. Whether you like the different spin on Arthur Conan Doyle's characters or not, Elementary does mystery right, and it's worth a watch based on that alone.