Josh Wilding Reviews: ELEMENTARY; "Pilot"
So, does CBS' Elementary live up to the BBC's own critically acclaimed modern day re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes? Not even close! Read on for my spoiler-free verdict on perhaps one of the worst pilots to hit this Fall so far.
It is inevitable that Elementary will be compared to Sherlock. In fact, that's been happening ever since the series was first announced. Well, it's probably best that you try to avoid doing that too much as you watch this pilot as it really will do little more than highlight just how inferior CBS' modern day re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes is in comparison. The fact is, they're not even in the same ballpark, and even if the critically acclaimed BBC series didn't exist, Elementary still lacks the personality and clever writing (creator Robert Doherty's script is positively uninspired) to really make it stand out. The New York setting is of course one of the most notable changes to the well know story, and while that's sure to upset fans, it does at least help Elementary distinguish itself - its use of the city so far is very nondescript and underwhelming though. It could be set ANYWHERE.
Jonny Lee Miller makes for a likeable lead as Holmes, but adds very little to the iconic character for the most part. It sounds harsh, but the only thing he REALLY shares with the iconic Arthur Conan Doyle creation is his name. Despite bringing some unique traits to to he recovering drug addict, this version of Holmes has a serious lack of personality and there's just not enough here to make him stand out when audiences currently have two very capable detectives in the form of Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch. Lucy Lui's Dr. Watson suffers from a similar problem, but at least Miller at least seems interested in bringing SOMETHING to the role. Lui on the other hand is positively boring, and Watson's role in the pilot feels forced and unconvincing. Doherty desperately tries to make Watson an essential part of this first episode, but she comes across as little more than a spare part. Making the character a woman is certainly an interesting idea, but it's clear that this is done only to lead to some sort of romantic relationship further down the line, something which can already be seen in far more interesting procedurals such as Bones
That's another problem with the series. Regardless of which iteration you're a fan of, they have always for the most part told an original and compelling story. Elementary on the other hand is a simple police procedural which lacks any sort of real intelligence and if the pilot episode is anything to go by, the stories will all be of the sort that have been seen a million times before on television. There's no real sense of originality and even the great, "Aha!" moment is too stretched out and predictable to have any real sort of impact. Director Michael Cuesta (Homeland) at least gives it a big screen sheen which is about all this mediocre pilot has going for it.
Perhaps one of the weakest takes on Sherlock Holmes to date, the New York setting and a decent performance from Jonny Lee Miller help, but ultimately aren't enough to make Elementary worth watching. Avoid.
ELEMENTARY stars Jonny Lee Miller as detective Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson in a modern-day drama about a crime-solving duo that cracks the NYPD's most impossible cases. Following his fall from grace in London and a stint in rehab, eccentric Sherlock escapes to Manhattan where his wealthy father forces him to live with his worst nightmare - a sober companion, Dr. Watson. A successful surgeon until she lost a patient and her license three years ago, Watson views her current job as another opportunity to help people, as well as paying a penance. However, the restless Sherlock is nothing like her previous clients. He informs her that none of her expertise as an addiction specialist applies to him and he's devised his own post-rehab regimen - resuming his work as a police consultant in New York City. Watson has no choice but to accompany her irascible new charge on his jobs. But Sherlock finds her medical background helpful, and Watson realizes she has a knack for playing investigator. Sherlock's police contact, Capt. Tobias "Toby" Gregson, knows from previous experience working with Scotland Yard that Sherlock is brilliant at closing cases, and welcomes him as part of the team. With the mischievous Sherlock Holmes now running free in New York solving crime, it's simple deduction that he's going to need someone to keep him grounded, and it's elementary that it's a job for Watson.
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