Thursday, February 6, 2014

What if Elementary writers took the Sherlock approach?

With new episodes of Sherlock and Elementary running within days of each other last week, the comparisons were running wild through my head this week. One thing that I really like about Sherlock that Elementary doesn't do nearly so much is to pepper each episode with references to the Canon and other moments in Sherlock lore. Mixing "A Scandal in Bohemia" and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, putting big chunks of "The Empty House" in two unconnected episodes, but adding a "Mazarin Stone" twist in one of them. So I got to thinking: What if Elementary did more of that?

And what if they did it tonight?

With that thought in mind, the good Carter and myself sat down to watch this week's episode of Elementary, "Corpse de Ballet," with the eyes of a house flipper looking at a fixer-upper. How might we fill tonight's show with the sort of goodies that would make a true blue Sherlockian squeal in delight?

And here we go. Tatiana is leaving Mr. Elementary's bedroom after spending the night with a note reading "Coitus in progress." She's a "pastor of some sort," but we segue to the ballet for our pre-credits murder. Already, I'd have done a Private Life bit by tying Tatiana to the ballet, where we later learn she was only sleeping with Mr. Elementary to get pregnant with his child. Have Joan Watson get hit on by Tatiana's lesbian ballerina friend who's waiting in the kitchen, and the tribute to Private Life is complete.

Now, on to the ballet. Let's call the dancer who died "Pattie Doran" ("Hatty" is a little out of date) and now we've touched on "Noble Bachelor." Let's call our prime suspect "Flora Millar," and make sure Doran's body was found in the middle of Swan Lake.

Joan Watson leaves that mystery to go look into a homeless man who is missing his friend. Let's call this homeless guy "James Dodd," and he's missing his old military buddy "Godfrey Emsworth."

Mr. Elementary, meanwhile, is interviewing Flora's ex-boyfriend, Lord St. Simon. (Yes, "Lord" is his first name.) About this point, the good Carter wanders off out of sheer boredom with the latest episode, and by the time Mr. Elementary has had his second one-night-stand of the episode, I'm thinking of giving up this little project. But I don't want to slut-shame Mr. Elementary, so I press on.

So it turns out Flora was having a relationship with Pattie -- in Elementary's version, they're breaking up, but I'd rather take a twist on "Noble Bachelor" and have them about to run off and get married just before the murder. We get a scene at Elementary's version of Baker Street where Joan is packing up clothes for the homeless, and I really wish they'd have kept Miss Hudson around to add something to the lodgings scenes.

Okay, one more pause in the project: after a year and a half we suddenly learn that Joan Watson's biological father is a schizophrenic homeless man who lives on the streets of New York and she's helped out at shelters just to see him. But wait, if we're going to suddenly toss in massive Watson backstory, why don't we go with "I used to be a Mormon, and on the eve of my wedding to Enoch Drebber, I fled to New York." That way Watson has some reason for wondering about Pattie perhaps leaving Flora on the night before their wedding.

But you know Lord St. Simon has to be the killer in the end, and when Joan Watson discovers Godfrey Emsworth being held prisoner in a basement, we'll call the homeowners "Jeff and Alice Rucastle," who've been imprisoning him for his veteran's benefits. Only in our "a little more Sherlock" version the Rucastles had another homeless guy pretending to be Emsworth by putting albino make-up on himself. (Did I mention Emsworth was an albino in this . . .) "Blanched Soldier"/"Copper Beeches" mash-up for the win! Or not.

Okay, I think we'll call this experiment a failure. You can't make a silk purse out of a very boring sow's ear, and boy, was this week's Elementary a snoozer. Even with Mr. Elementary adding two notches to his sex championship belt, Joan Watson revealing deep personal secrets, and a bisected corpse.

But maybe it just needs Mycroft in every episode. Seems to be working elsewhere.

1 comment:

  1. I do agree that Thursday night's episode was boring. However, you do bring up a very interesting issue about "Sherlock" and its quite frankly overuse of peppering (at times more like applying with a trowel) Canonical references, Sherlockian lore and cinematic "homages". Your using "Corpse de Ballet's" plot to show just how ridiculous shoehorning Canonical connections into every scene can be. I enjoy the thoughtful "Elementary" posts you write on rare occasions, as opposed to the "Shite/Shinola" diatribe we usually get (not that they aren't, at times, entertaining).