Interesting, though elementary [HOUN]

As the limitations of my army pension and Mrs Hudson’s reluctance to have a satellite dish fitted to 221B prevents me from seeing the latest incarnation of Holmes and I on the small screen, I have asked someone of more independent means, whom we will refer to for the moment as “The Woman”, to review the “Elementary” series, starting with the pilot episode (which I have managed to see myself).

Finally ‘Elementary’ hit UK screens this week after months of suspense and already it has picked up mixed reviews in the US. The very popular and successful BBC series ‘Sherlock’ is always uttered in the same breath, the Robert Downey Jr films get muted noise. ‘Elementary’ was never going to be ‘Sherlock’ and whilst the wait for Season Three is agony, ‘Elementary’ takes us on a different interpretation of the great detective Sherlock Holmes.

There are three big changes to the Sherlock Holmes adaptations we have seen before.

The first major change is Joan Watson played by Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Kill Bill, Ally McBeal) who is hired by Holmes Senior to babysit Sherlock after his rehab. She makes the perfect accompaniment to Sherlock’s insulting and rude behaviour. Having a female Watson makes me think there will be a romantic will they-won’t they storyline building.

Have I been watching too much American TV?

I like the female aspect despite this being against everything written before, it’s a new angle that has had me intrigued and Lucy Liu was a superb casting.

The second change is no 221B. Sherlock is now in New York and there is no Mrs Hudson either. I guess Joan is enough “woman” for Sherlock.

The third change, the man himself – Sherlock Holmes. He’s a tattooed, unshaven, unkempt scruff but somehow made me think of Captain Jack Sparrow with his way of doing things. Jonny Lee Miller (Hackers, Trainspotting, Dexter) makes a good Sherlock and despite certain odd un-Sherlock behaviours he is very likeable. I found the baseball score guessing scene very silly as he had no basis for making that prediction. His physic powers are very strong in ‘Elementary’. He also brings new sex appeal to the character and is frequently seen shirtless, not that I was complaining!

After reading a few reviews before of this I wasn’t expecting much from the pilot, however I found it to be enjoyable and I didn’t let my eyes leave the screen for one minute. The programme was fast paced and missing a part of it would have been hard to keep up with, or so I had thought. The crime they need to solve is over complicated and doesn’t need to be. When it had finished I had thought it probably wouldn’t have mattered if I had missed parts of the middle section but anyway this was just the first episode.

Here are my other highlights of the first episode:

  • Sherlock knowing Joan’s father had an affair because he had googled it
  • He keeps bees
  • Joan’s comments about there being no mirrors in his house “I think you know a lost cause when you see one”
  • The episode ended with the Elvis Costello song “Watching The Detectives”

I’ve often noticed a TV programme’s popularity can be assessed in recent times via several modes of social networking. The most popular source is from micro blogging site Tumblr. Doctor Who, Merlin, Sherlock and even Downton Abbey are particularly popular amongst the Tumblr community. Elementary is probably not yet at the height of those mentioned yet but there is certainly enough evidence to believe that it’s more popular than people would have you believe.

‘Elementary’ has been extended to a 22 episode run and despite many critics writing this off and many fans also doing the same I still believe there is space for both ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Elementary’ and they should be reviewed separately. I would however, like to be able to look at both Sherlock and Watson in ‘Elementary’ and know they were those characters, right now you could name them anything and I’d believe you.

But my last point and one for you to think over – did Miller’s Sherlock remind anyone else of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who? Enjoy your second watch of the pilot to see if you agree.

I hope to persuade “The Woman” to review other episodes throughout the season.

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