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So… I’m a big fan of the BBC’s Sherlock. So I kind of expected to watch Elementary like this:
But I actually watched it like this!
Surprise! It wasn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever seen, but it was pretty damn good, and it really held my attention all the way through. Read on for the official Fake TV Math review… this time with percentages! (warning… pilot spoilers)
70% enjoyed the premise
It’s a procedural. At least from the structure of the first episode, that’s what’s at the heart. There are enough familiar elements (cold open featuring a crime, various stages of police work, arresting the wrong guy halfway through, gruff detective) that you can kind of guess the beats of the case part.
The nice thing is that, more than a lot of other similar “kooky genius with issues solves cases” shows, the case feels pretty tangential. I was interested, but it wasn’t the focus. The focus was absolutely on wayward police consultant Sherlock Holmes and his new sober companion, former surgeon Joan Watson. Yeah. Joan. He still just calls her “Watson,” though, which is adorable. The fact that they’re not together by choice makes a lot of the exposition go down easier, and also allows for a lot of emotional growth between them really quickly.
95% enjoyed Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu
First of all, let’s talk faces. Lucy Liu is an absolute work of art onscreen, stoic and sharp, and she knows exactly how effective her stillness is. There are a few tiny head movements and smiles from her that are incredibly exciting to watch. Plus, this Watson is a “Go wait in the car, Holmes!” badass right away.
Miller, on the other hand, has a twitchy/vulnerable/scrunchy face ruled by giant eyes that alternately make you think of a puppy and a serial killer.
I’m really interested to see the development of their relationship. This Holmes is young and wounded and way less subtle than he thinks he is. He understands human emotion, he just has no idea how to navigate his own. It’s like he flickers in and out of humanity, and it’s fascinating. Watson has her own darkness, though it’s much more controlled, and she seems to alternately want to hug Sherlock or smack him really hard.
60% enjoyed the case
As I said before, didn’t really care about it, but the ending was a neat trick. The husband was way less interesting than the dead suspect, though. I wanted more of him. Quick question: is “rice allergy” a thing? Like, rice specifically? It was just super convenient.
100% enjoyed the lighting.
It was just gorgeous, okay? Everything was bright and pale and dingy and surprising.
+5% for the alarm clock scene
+ 5% for the bee scene
- 7% for Lucy Liu’s outfits (they all looked the same and there were unfortunate hats)
Result: 84.25% enjoyed it. A solid B… yup.
Miller will inevitably be compared to Benedict Cumberbatch in the British modernized Sherlock, but they’re completely different animals. Both actors are brilliant, and I’d rather see the characters compete onscreen (crossover please!) than try to pit the shows against each other. If this one lives up to the character-based potential, there’s definitely room for both on TV.