Pointless Nonsense

Posted in tv by Bill on September 28, 2012

Elementary is a CBS modernization of Sherlock Holmes (not to be confused with Sherlock, the BBC modernization of Sherlock Holmes, which is much, much better). I tried to judge the show on its own merits, rather than compare it to the other recent, similar, excellent show, and I think I did a pretty good job of putting that aside and giving it a fair shot. The problem with Elementary is that there’s no reason to call it Sherlock Holmes. Like The Mentalist or Monk, it’s a murder-solving show about a weird guy with uncanny observational skills. He bears about as much of a resemblance to Sherlock Holmes as Greg House does. He’s in New York, Watson’s a woman, he has daddy issues, he sleeps with a random girl at the beginning for no reason… these things aren’t very Sherlock-y to me at all. And there’s no good reason for the changes from a story point of view, only from a business point of view (American settings are more friendly to American viewers, Lucy Liu adds sex appeal and makes him not seem gay).

I had some specific gripes as well:

  • Sherlock, in his British accent, repeatedly refers to someone’s phone as a “cell phone,” and not as a “mobile” as any British person would. He’s not a warm person, so changing his vocabulary to make it easier on others does not seem like his style.
  • The show closes with Watching the Detectives, a perfectly fine song, but way too on the nose. Unless it’s for comedic affect, you don’t play “We Are the Champions” when a sports team wins a title, you don’t play “Born to Run” while people are running, and you don’t play “Watching the Detectives” while we watch detectives.
  • I have a general problem when the people like the Mentalist do things that go beyond preternatural observation and are actually magic. And Elementary ends with Sherlock correctly predicting the exact sequence of three plays that will close a baseball game (fly out to center, intentional walk, game-ending double play). If that was the kind of prediction anyone could make with confidence, we’d just stop playing baseball. There are too many possible outcomes to each pitch and too many factors at play to do that. So Sherlock Holmes in this show is magic, which makes it dumb.

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