Monday, February 17, 2014

Elementary - A Revised Opinion (Spoilers)

I'm not gonna lie. When I first heard that CBS were doing their own version of Sherlock Holmes with the New York based Elementary, I wasn't exactly jumping for joy about the prospect of it. Also like some viewers, I also wasn't too eager on the character of Watson being rewritten as a female character, even though the always excellent Lucy Liu had been cast. Then I actually watched the show.

And I have to admit (and not for the first time) perhaps I prejudged it too harshly. While I am still a bit fed up of US networks doing their own versions of UK programmes, Elementary turned out to be a lot better than I gave it credit for. Both Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu have turned out to be a captivating and engrossing take on the great detective and his sober companion, possibly even as good as Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have been on Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss's Sherlock series and while the show has largely felt like a traditional procedural at times, it's far more preferable than CBS's other unadventurous offerings.

It's also been slightly more adventurous in some respects to Moffat/Gatiss's baby as well. While changing genders for Watson wasn't the most radical thing Elementary could've done, I think changing Moriarty into a female character and merging him/her with Irene Adler however was. Also casting the incredible Natalie Dormer (The Tudors, Game Of Thrones) certainly helped matters too. Dormer could recite a phone bill and turn it into a BAFTA winning performance. Her take on both roles (Jamie Moriarty/Irene Adler) easily matches what both Andrew Scott and Lara Pulver have done with the roles and she's been a rather interesting version of the popular antagonist/love interest for Mr Holmes. However the less said about Vinnie Jones version of Sebastian Moran, the better though.

Another masterstroke was the brief introduction of Holmes's former landlady, Miss Hudson, who in Elementary's version is actually a transgendered woman, played by Candice Cayne (Nip/Tuck, Dirty Sexy Money). It was a brave move and one that seemed to go down well with fans of the show as well, probably due to the depiction of Hudson as a regular character not written to be a victim or a source of humour. It's hard not to impressed with the show for this alone.

As for the rest of the show - Aidan Quinn has been great as the rather stoic/duty bound Captain Tommy Gregson and the second season itself hasn't wasted time in throwing both Holmes and Watson into London as well as meeting up with the likes of Mycroft Holmes (Rhys Ifans) and Lestrade (Sean Pertwee), both of whom have been memorable in their brief appearances so far. Elementary might not generate the same levels of mass fan hysteria as it's BBC counterpart and it might be a bit too procedural times for it's own good, but overall, I can admit when I'm wrong and this show is certainly better than I thought it would be.

Elementary airs Thursdays 10pm on CBS and will resume airing on SkyLiving, Tuesdays at 9pm from February 18th.

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