When I was in my early teens, I tore through a couple of Sherlock Holmes books. Now, I’m talking about the ORIGINAL books, such as “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and “A Study in Scarlet”…not any modernized versions of the character. But for as much as I greatly enjoyed those two, the other books written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fell flat for me. Thankfully, this did not dissipate my fondness for Holmes, but it did make me more critical of everything pertaining to him.
As I aged, I began to branch out and read other authors’ takes on the legendary sleuth. Some were spot on, while others missed the mark completely. Just recently (within the past couple of years), I added movie adaptations and television shows to the mix, such as the Robert Downy Jr. travesties and SHERLOCK, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as ELEMENTARY.
I initially thought I’d hate ELEMENTARY because it is such a drastic departure from the original material…but I’m happy to report I enjoy it immensely. Granted, I had to change my mindset, but once I did, I found the gem hidden amongst the stones. This show will probably not be for everyone, but it’s a lot of fun and greatly entertaining.
If you are not familiar with ELEMENTARY, here is the show’s plot synopsis courtesy of CBS Television:
Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is a recovering addict who meets Joan Watson (Lucy Lui) as his ‘sober companion’. Initially their relationship is strictly professional, and somewhat frosty, but they grow to understand and work with one another, eventually forming a friendship and partnership. Together they assist Captain Gregson and Detective Bell of the NYPD, where Holmes’ observational abilities and deductive talent unravel a series of complicated cases.
Alongside his police work, Sherlock struggles with a past he left behind in London involving an ex-girlfriend Irene Adler, a ‘nemesis’ in Moriarty, and an absent father.
To enjoy ELEMENTARY, I didn’t lower my standards or anything crude like that. Instead, I came at it like an outsider, as if I knew nothing about the Sherlock Holmes in classic literature. Obviously, this was not easy to do. But once I got past my preconceptions of Holmes in the literary sense, I was able to look at Johnny Lee Miller’s portrayal with fresh eyes. The result was a welcome jaunt into somewhat familiar territory.
And speaking of Miller, he’s an absolute joy to watch. I’ve loved his work since HACKERS way back in the day. The same can be said for Lucy Liu. She is also a delight to see onscreen. Both actors accent each other well in the show, and the chemistry between them is very evident. The rest of the cast does a fine job as well.
The storylines in ELEMENTARY are fresh and intriguing, and some appear to have come straight from today’s news headlines. Even so, the show is a nice mixture of intense mystery and light humor. I enjoy the “baggage” that Holmes carries because it makes him even more of a real person. Season five deepens the relationship between Holmes and Watson, but it also begs more questions that we will have to dwell upon until season six.
ELEMENTARY is a heck of a good show, I highly recommend it. Season five is available now.