Friday, October 4, 2013

Positively Elementary, S2E2: Joan Watson Watch.

As a service to those readers of Sherlock Peoria who choose not to watch the CBS television program Elementary, the following blog is provided as a public service. It may contain spoilers, cursing, personal opinion, and and unflattering descriptions of televised events. There's your warning. But you're going to read this anyway, aren't you?

It's all about Joan Watson, really. I see that now.

While BBC Sherlock can riff on The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes one episode and Fox's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in another, CBS's Elementary has dedicated itself to one long tribute to They Might Be Giants. Dr. Mildred Watson, played by Joanne Woodward, is now "Joan(ne) Watson," who must carefully oversee the investigations of a man who calls himself "Sherlock Holmes."

Last week, as you may recall, Joan Watson went with Mr. Elementary to London, surely hoping that confronting the realities of his past might be beneficial. Mr. Elementary spun stories of an elaborate sanctum sanctorum, Sherlock Holmes's classic 221B, which he claimed existed in the space where a restauranteur's modern condo was found to currently be. Having had an affair with the restauranteur's fiancee, Mr. Elementary apparently still had a key to the place, and the restauranteur, still holding a grudge, was more than willing to exacerbate his rival's delusions by taking the role of Mycroft Holmes on the spur of the moment. "Destroying" all the imaginary contents from the imaginary 221B in a rigged explosion was the perfect added touch, both to further the delusion and give a little jab of revenge at Mr. Elementary.

This week, Dr. Joan Watson was visiting the grave of Gerald Castoro on the day after the anniversary of her death. His son Joey finds her there, also marking the anniversary a day late with a bouquet of flowers. Not really a guy thing to do, especially at a father's grave, but one gets the feeling he's there to see Joan . . . in which case the flowers make sense.

Dr. Watson and Joey go for coffee, he thinks she's working for the police, but she explains that she's a consulting detective. Joey proves to be this Watson's Thurston, offering her an investment opportunity, and she returns home for find a half-naked man moving artfully in front of a projector, which she finds entrancing for a moment. She's been without male companionship for a while.

Watson asks for an advance from her employer -- five thousand bucks, which makes one wonder what her weekly paycheck is. Her latest bit of work involves the P versus NP problem, which is some genuine smart people stuff. Chances are that the people who actually work with said problem aren't watching Elementary, so verifying anything that goes on in this episode in polynomial time is probably not going to happen. In fact, it's so abstruse that it's not really interesting, so it's good Watson is being forthcoming about how she killed Gerald Castoro.

Doing surgery to remove Castoro's right adrenal gland, Watson nicked his vena cava and he bled out. (Reminding this old Peorian of Victorian Dr. Watson's work with the prostitutes of the East End . . . but that's a story for another time, and hopefully Joan wasn't drunk like her predecessor in a certain fanfic of yore.) Castoro's son Joey, seventeen at the time, didn't blame Watson, plainly bonding with the beautiful doctor during a very emotional time in his adolescence.

In the middle of the night, and shirtless, Joan's employer offers her four times the five thousand she asks for, in hopes she'll use it to end her relationship with Joey Castoro. Not really the best form for one's employer, but he is a bit mad, so we'll forgive that and not accuse harassment. Joan takes the money, but not the advice, and actually uses it to further her relationship with Joey, becoming an almost replacement father figure.

After solving her latest case for both her employer and NYPD, Joan Watson completely rules this episode, so much so that her mad little boss actually talks about wanting to tag along on her next cemetery visit. All in all, it is perhaps Lucy Liu's best performance since this series started last year, and one hope that she can carry it  to greater things.

One even starts to suspect Joan might be a descendent of the original Dr. Watson, after her warm and very human turn this week, rising above the influence of her employer to assert herself. With his experience of the women of three continents, that old boy did get around, and probably left his name along with his DNA on most of them. Perhaps one day she can just start working with Bell, whose lineage may also contain the chromosomes of a certain Victorian namesake, and cut out the middle man entirely.


  1. Great review! I always find your review more entertaining than the actual episode. I can never see Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson, (that is the production team's fault for creating her character) but if this show was renamed something else, and all the characters were fans of sherlock holmes rather than being ACD's characters, then I would totally watch the show.

  2. That is a good argument. If this were the cease the show wouldn't make me so bloody mad and I would be able to watch and review it for its own merits.