Sunday, August 19, 2012

First Look: Elementary

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Another television pilot I caught at Comic-Con was CBS' Elementary, for which I had high hopes. I came away from the panel thinking that I could actually get into a female Dr. Watson, though I admit that the relationship that has been established in the pilot is a bit odd. Now, I can't guarantee that no changes will be made from the version I saw and what will air when the show debuts, so we're calling this a "first look" as opposed to our regular "recap and remarks." Before we dive in, though, here are a couple of tidbits from the very short Q&A with series stars Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, plus executive producers Robert Doherty and Carl Beverly:

- Robert is fascinated with the original Sherlock Holmes books and the Sherlock/Watson relationship, and has seen research that psychological assessments of the characters shows that Holmes struggles with people, especially women, so having Holmes live with a woman makes the situation even more trying.
- we may be treated to other characters in the Sherlock universe, because, really, it would be a shame not to see Moriarty.
- the show is being very upfront with Holmes' drug addiction, something that is generally ignored in contemporary adaptations.
Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu
photo: Jonathan Bredemeyer

better view of Liu's gorgeous dress
photo: Jonathan Bredemeyer
My final thought as the panel ended was sheer befuddlement... how can the producers think that having Watson be a woman won't make a big difference in the end?? I disagree rather wholeheartedly with that...

Elementary "Pilot" (S01E01):Watson, who was hired by Holmes' father to help Holmes adjust to life outside of a rehab center, shows up at Holmes' apartment. [let's note that we're already subjected to creepy camera angles juxtaposed with present-day music.] Holmes figures out that she's a former doctor, and that the arrangement is for her to live with him for six weeks... though he believes he doesn't need help and suggests she take a vacation instead. [that love confession straight from a film was very odd.] And, the guy may very well need her help... after all, he's having issues with sobriety and even broke out of the rehab facility (or "junkie jail" as he likes to call it) the day he was supposed to be released, just because he was bored! [I'm trying really hard here, but I truly hope that the similarities between Holmes and Dr. House end... even if the latter was an alleged take on the former from the beginning.] He also may be a big supporter of Maslow, as sex repels him but he continues to have it in order to "function optimally," hence the woman leaving as Watson arrived.

We learn that Holmes is an observant guy (by finding a parking ticket, he figures out that Watson must have had a patient die because the location on the ticket was near a cemetery) who was a pro-bono consultant for Scotland Yard and now wants to do something similar in New York. [can we pause for a moment and thank the writing Gods that this show is set in New York but isn't making a huge deal about that fact yet?] Watson is game to play along with however he wants to refer to her, and he chooses "personal valet" for now. [in Manhattan. Also, I'm already seeing some parallels between this relationship and that of Adrian Monk and Sharona/Natalie...]

The duo head to a crime scene where a woman is missing (Holmes doesn't tell Watson that's where they're going, of course), and while the police just see signs of struggle, Holmes picks up on a lot more - he suspects the victim lost a lot of weight two years ago because there are no photos of her older than that on her phone or in her house, plus, some asymmetry leads him to realize that there's something missing in the bedroom. The clincher, however, is that he notices a slight one-to-five-degree slope that leads to the saferoom... that the husband didn't even know was in the home! [that's a very insignificant incline... but a marble would find it!] That's where the body is! [the crime scene wasn't too bloody, but I hope this isn't a taste of the typical type of case.]

From there, Holmes talks to the husband, notably saying "tall men in your life. I'd like a list." Six names, two with histories, and Watson and Holmes are off to interview one of the guys. Watson asks questions, though her primary purpose is more along the lines of taking saliva samples from Holmes and making sure that he's clean. [I really didn't understand why Watson was doing the interrogation...] Holmes looks at similar cases and they head to talk to a victim of a similar attack, and after some hesitance, they learn that the woman's brother's best friend was the attacker. They head to talk to him, but he's dead when they arrive, and NYPD are already there. [don't you just hate it when the officials beat you to it? LoL.] The weird thing is that the guy's phone hasn't been recovered, and a day or two later, Watson is actually the one who remembers seeing rice in the kitchen but reading in some records that he had an allergy to rice - he used the sack to dry out his phone, which went through the wash! [what, you haven't tried that trick? you should! that washing machine sure took a beating, though!]

Back to figuring out the victim's deal... Holmes realizes that rage was involved, so he sneaks into an opera to retrieve Watson and determine that the wrong pills were in a Xanax bottle belonging to the dead killer. They go to confront the victim's husband, who was also the therapist of the killer. Holmes suggests that the the therapist changed his wife's appearance to fit the killer's preference, loaded the killer like a weapon with rage pills, then killed the guy after his wife was dead. [that's a lot of trouble and a long process to off your wife!] To drive the point home, Holmes rams the guy's car (with Watson's)... winding up in jail for the night. [and who's the one with the rage?? LoL.] The next day, after the therapist repeatedly denies knowing dead killer, Holmes plays part of a recording on the rice-trapped cell phone - the patient had recorded their sessions! [maybe I don't get it because I'm not in therapy, but would you really want to hear those things over and over?]

The case figured out and done, there are a few other things that give us some background on our two main character... we learn that Holmes uses his own deductive reasoning as well as the internet, because "not everything is deducible," and that he can hack the NYPD database in seven tries at guessing their password. [eep! how many people do you think are now going to try that? :-/] We find out that Watson's father had an affair and that she finds work a chore (she uses two alarm clocks to get up in the morning). Plus, Holmes keeps bees on the roof and honey sometimes leaks into the house, while Watson likes baseball (Red Sox & Mets, yo!), despite its "heavily reliance on statistics." [okay, so look for the bees to be an ongoing thing, I'm guessing. Not sure how the baseball thing will play in, but perhaps the idea is that a case will stem from Watson being at a game and seeing something suspicious?] 

Look for Elementary to debut on CBS on Thursday, September 27th at 10pm ET/PT.
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