Thursday, March 6, 2014

When less that great won't do.

After reading an agreeable Sherlockian review of Sherlock from the Seattle Weekly this morning, I was struck by a particular comment on Elementary when viewed next to Sherlock:

"Here let’s stipulate that the pedestrian, New York–set Elementary comes across as a pale copy ofMonk or House ; Miller is mostly wasted playing yet another eccentric detective with a ho-hum drug habit; he’s not helped by Lucy Liu’s female yet otherwise unremarkable Watson; and the scripts are utterly mundane."

After spending the last couple of years and thousands of words trying to nail down my issues with that show, it was quite refreshing to see writer John Longenbaugh sum it all up so succinctly. Despite the show's obvious attempts at sensationalism, like making Holmes a serial womanizer for no apparent reason, it does remain pedestrian and mundane to my mind, without a single mystery plot that remains in one's brain once the hour is done.

Were this the pre-Jeremy Brett 1980s, when we were desperate for any Sherlockian television content, Elementary would have been a fabulous, must-see show, the Star Trek: Next Generation of the Sherlockian world. But in the post-Sherlock 2010s? The bar has been raised. Fans are making shows for fans, and throwing random TV show-folk at an established and beloved character like a Sherlock Holmes just doesn't quite cut it any more. There was a reason Joss Whedon's Avengers made more money than any movie ever -- comic book movies were being made by grown adults who understood why comic book superheroes were cool, instead of schlockmeisters thinking they could make a buck off something only little kids liked.

I've taken some heat for my unrelenting dislike of Elementary in the past couple of years, and a lot of it takes a tone as if I'm berating a beloved local handicapped child. But Elementary is no poor under-achieving victim of circumstance. It walked into the arena knowing full well what its competition was, and under-equipped to deal. These are times when less than great won't do.

Welcome to another Thursday. The aforementioned Star Trek: The Next Generation was a real stinker for its first season and a half, too, but then figured itself out and became a very palatable part of the Trek franchise. And every Thursday, my hopes spring eternally up for Elementary's rise to a Sherlock Holmes level of cool. Let's see what happens tonight.

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