Thursday, November 20, 2014

E3:4. Back to basics. Sort of. Not really. Sigh.

“Ultimately, it’s probably one of our more obvious nods to the original Watson and the role that he played in the short stories as the chronicler of Sherlock Holmes,” Elementary creator Rob Dougherty said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly yesterday. “That Sherlock was, I dare say, a less private fellow and rather enjoyed Watson’s writing. Our Sherlock is not that Sherlock, so it’s something that’s going to stick in his craw for a bit.”

Yes, folks, Elementary's Joan Watson is finally going to be writing about the show's main character.

Three seasons in on America's version of the great detective of the Victorian age, Elementary is using the basic premise of the entire Sherlockian Canon as a plot device to add one more relationship bump in the non-partnership that is Mr. Elementary and Joan Watson. Let's be honest . . in any non-contrived universe where they weren't the two highest-paid actors on an ongoing network TV series, these two people would have nothing to do with each other.

Another bit of the interview, revealing a point of view that Mr. Elementary and Joan Watson are being written as the "co-parents" of Kitty Winter, is even more bizarre. But the key point one keeps coming back to is encapsulated, in all its glory, in the phrase, "Our Sherlock is not that Sherlock."

Of course, not, he's Mr. Elementary. Or Sean Holmes. Or Sherlock Holmes Junior. You can call him what you want, but since he's not "that Sherlock," it just seems like he should need a different name.And what was Mr. Elementary up to tonight?

Wellllll . . . he cut his hand so he's letting leeches suck on it while he watches Clyde the turtle eat lettuce to test the medical uses of leeches. I'm not kidding. Nothing to do with crime, which is one of those "not that Sherlock" qualities. Mr. Elementary is into all kinds of trivial knowledge to stuff his brain attic, not just those things useful to a student of crime. He's very prideful of all his random knowledge, considers it intelligence, and feels threatened by an artificial intelligence named Bella, whose speaker is built into a baby doll.

"I don't understand the question. Could you tell me more?" the A.I. keeps asking Mr. Elementary, who basically seems to be just a guy having a hard time using Siri on his iPhone. While looking at a doll. And he wants Siri to tell him about love.I'm not kidding. (Why do I feel the need to say that so much when writing about this show?)

Mr. Elementary gathers many an expert on artificial intelligence to develop refinements in the Turing test while he has Joan Watson investigate the break-in that brought him to Bella the A.I. to begin with. This week he's apparently decided to study computer science rather than investigate crime. At least long enough to drag Joan into his life again.

And then it gets a little meta. A.J. Raffles is apparently a fictional character in Mr. Elementary's universe. Raffles was written by E.W. Hornung, Conan Doyle's brother-in-law. Which leads one to wonder if Conan Doyle also exists in Elementary world. Which is ironic, because watching this show, I often wonder if he existed in ours. Still, it's fun to hear the name "Raffles" talked about, even if it's a burglar who just borrowed the name. (A lot like a certain detective whom . . . Tilts head toward TV screen a few times to indicate Mr. Elementary. Wouldn't want him to get a complex while he's doing his show.)

Okay, let's step back from the Sherlock talk for a minute. Have you ever noticed that whatever the shell of this show is, it really likes to have stupid discussions of smart people subjects. I suspect people smoking a certain dried flora like to go "WHOA!" a lot during this show and make little "mind blown" gestures with their fingers. Meanwhile a key plot point is about dragging a music icon from a CD to a computer . . . and if you don't see an issue with that in a story supposedly about cutting-edge technology. *PSHEWWWW!!* Mind blown.

So many levels to this show. Levels of what? You fill in that blank.

Kitty Winter's involvement in this episode isn't much greater than that of Clyde the turtle. I suspect if Mr. Elementary and Joan were really her co-parents, the Department of Children and Family Services would be getting involved. But Elementary's Kitty Winter plainly isn't Conan Doyle's Kitty Winter. I miss that old acid-tossing Hell-Londoner. And wonder why they're paying an actress to do so little. Hope she gets more than Clyde.

Mr. Elementary explains he returned to New York to repair his relationship with Joan because "You and I are bound, somehow," and that Joan's boyfriend understands that. Huh? I don't understand that, and I'm not even dating her.

And then we come to Isaac Pike, the wheelchair-bound genius who gives Mr. Elementary his true battle of wits this week, so to speak. (Because all geniuses must have some compensating handicap in this world.) And Pike seems to win, while Joan Watson flies off to Copenhagen with her boyfriend, whom she now appreciates more than ever because he understands that special bond between herself and Mr. Elementary. (Which certain recreational activities in Copenhagen might make them both understand even better. *PSHEWWW!!*)

Mr. Elementary spends his final moments with his head laying on the hardwood floor, talking to Bella the computer program, whose final thought is "I don't understand the question. Could you tell me more?" But The Daily Show is coming on, so Bella will probably start watching that now, even if Mr. E. does decide to tell her more.

Plainly, as Rob "Conan" Dougherty says, "Our Sherlock is not that Sherlock." I really wish American TV had tried to make a show about that Sherlock.


  1. Okay, but what didn't you like about the episode?

  2. Oh lord. I haven't seen the episode yet, but am dreading it already.

    To be fair, we are constantly told that Holmes could converse knowledgeably on a wide variety of non-crime-related and often obscure subjects, and he was always performing a smelly chemical experiment or two.

    Doesn't make me like the show any better.


    1. One of the fun things I got to write about, way back when, was how you could trace any of those extraneous-seeming topics Holmes could converse about back to the study of crime. And I've been as fair as fair can be with El-e-men-tar-ee, despite what some may say. Even objectivity can only get you so far, and at some point, something actually has to have more good points than bad.