Every now and then, I read or hear comments like appeared on Oregon Live today, under the headline, "The 10 Most Underrated Shows and Stars on Television," and I become somewhat confused.
It's number one entry on the list was Elementary, about which the following queries were made:
"Why doesn't this shrewd, well-written, beautifully acted series get more attention? Is it because it dared to offer another contemporary spin on Sherlock Holmes in the wake of the justifiably adored 'Sherlock' on PBS? Or because it grafts its modern-day Holmes and Watson onto that snoozy old CBS staple, the crime-of-the-week procedural formula? Is CBS only allowed one critics' darling show?"
The first question is in the "Have you stopped beating your wife?" category, positing a fact that must be accepted as truth to even begin to answer it. Those that follow are merely excuses, theorized because said posited fact must be true.
And a lot of people out there are apparently seeing a "shrewd, well-written, beautifully acted series" on CBS, Thursday nights at nine Central. My television, however, seems to be relentlessly feeding me something else, like I'm living in a parallel universe.
This week's wacky Elementary hijinks began with Mr. Elementary having brought his beehive, complete with bees, into his sitting room to work on colony collapse disorder. This is about the same as bringing a corpse into your living room to work on a cure for cancer -- doing it in your main living quarters is just trying to show people you're wacky. Yep, wacky established.
A dead body shows up just after a subplot with Joan Watson and Hannah Gregson starts rolling, as the procedural ritual demands, and we're off and strolling with another episode of Elementary.
Mr. Elementary exposes a new skill this week as he deprograms a cult member off-camera in a matter of minutes, and moves on to some rather transparent ghost investigation, where one has to wait patiently for the show (and the consulting detectives) to come to the same conclusion one probably saw at the outset. It might have been fun had the show played up the ghost angle a bit, like The Hound of the Baskervilles toyed with the supernatural before Sherlock Holmes brought in a more mundane explanation, or showed us just how Mr. Elementary manages the tricky business of deprogramming, but those opportunities are wasted to keep the electrocardiogram of the show at its normal procedural flatline.
Joan Watson deduces a man has been in a house because a toilet seat is up. Yes, that actually happened in a show with the names "Holmes" and "Watson" on its characters. People who want to write Elementary casefic do not have to work too hard. (And yes, I just learned "casefic" on my latest 221B Con trip, and am trying to sound like I'm hip to the ships and recs, betas. Sad, isn't it?)
Hannah Gregson, at least, uses her meager subplot to live up to the Gregson family name by making sure she gets credit for solving crimes. Even if she had a little help from "Hey, that toilet seat is up!" Watson.
Eventually we get to the trivial pursuit fact upon which this case is based. I would be very curious to hear an engineer's analysis of the technical specs of what is being attempted, but it's a TV show, right? We'll let them have that the magic maguffin works as they say it does. We have to get back to Hannah Gregson, and her father's apology to Joan Watson for his daughter's failings as a human being. But who can blame her? If you're going to only get to come on the show once in a blue moon, why not grab all the credit you can?
And with that, the latest episode ends, and even sadder for Hannah Gregson, I don't think I could pick her out of a police line-up only minutes after the show ended. Yet somewhere, I'm sure someone just watched a version of this show where she gave an Emmy-award performance and people are looking forward to her return to Elementary's "shrewd, well-written" continuity with bated breath.
Maybe in their episode, the show even explained how Mr. Elementary got all those bees out of the house and back to the roof in an expanded bee subplot.