An Elementary preview

Amidst all the hype is ‘Elementary’ all that bad?

Of all the new shows cropping up on American TV this Autumn one with perhaps the biggest buzz surrounding it is Elementary, CBS’ attempt to transport the magic of Sherlock Holmes stateside and in to the 21st century. You can’t help but notice that the buzz isn’t necessarily good; with CBS seemingly commissioning the show only after they’d been denied the rights to remake the BBC’s Sherlock.

Consequently, and perhaps proving the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, the likes of Steven Moffat openly questioned the wisdom of CBS doing the show whilst CBS network president Nina Tassler went on record saying that “Sherlock is a wonderful show but very different from ours”.

Showrunner Rob Doherty, who previously worked on Medium and the recent Sarah Michelle Geller vehicle Ringer, has written the pilot episode of Elementary which airs in the USA on September 27th.

So what’s it like? Does it compare to Sherlock? Should we compare it to Sherlock?

We’ve had a preview…

The plot of the pilot show is almost irrelevant; it’s the sort of thing you find on any procedural show on US TV. What makes it interesting, and what will be key to the show’s success, is the characters.

Jonny Lee Miller does a reasonable job as Holmes, he makes for an amusing enough and quirky leading man. But there’s a lot of tweaking of the Holmes legend to cope with; Holmes escapes to Manhattan following his fall from grace in London and a stint in rehab. His wealthy father forces him to live with a sober companion, Dr Joan Watson who, we learn in the pilot, used to be a successful surgeon until she lost a patient and subsequently her license. And even I, as a moderate fan of all things Holmes, couldn’t help but groan as some of the deviations from the norm were revealed. It’s not that I minded them, it’s creative license after all, but more than once I wondered why they bothered with Holmes at all and didn’t just call their quirky leading man by another name, but then I guess the show would end up like Perception, which has just finished its first run on TNT.

If you have even the remotest acquaintance with Holmes—be it due to the original books, Jeremy Brett or Steven Moffat—and can overlook the adjustments made to the Holmes legend, then it’s worth a shot.

As a quirky take on CBS’ standard procedurals it works quite well, though quite how irritating the main character will become week in week out will bear watching; but as a 21st Century Sherlock Holmes, sadly I think it falls wide of the mark.

The show will air on Sky Living in the UK, start date currently unknown