Thursday, December 17, 2015

Your Krampus gift from Sherlock Peoria.

"For future reference, when I say I agree with you, it means I'm not listening."
-- The Elementary t-shirt, 30% off pre-Christmas price!

Ah, if Elementary were only a mere 30% off on Sherlock Holmes.

It's been a pleasant last half of 2015, as my newfound philosophy of "If it ain't got nuttin' to do with Sherlock Holmes, don't watch it!" has helped me lose weight, gain inner peace, and generally be a better person. Some of the show's diehard fans still seem a little bitter about the fact that I ever judged it what they would call "harshly," and I would call "accurately," but that's what fans do. Go fans! I don't know if any abstinence from writing about the show will redeem my past sins in their eyes, but I know there are a few people out there who do miss a more "objective" commentary on the show that they don't watch, and you know what? It's Christmas time.

A time for Santa Claus. And also Krampus, the anti-Santa who comes for the bad children.

So let's see if Elementary is still on the naughty list this year, shall we?

Apparently I'm not the only one giving this season a pass, as the ratings have fallen noticeably, but, that said, the rate of descent does seem rather similar to last year's. This has never been a show that grows in popularity, and bringing in Mr. Elementary's father, the guy who originally paid for Watson's services and basically triggered the whole show's basic set-up, doesn't seem to have helped.

This week's episode was written by Jason Tracey, the Elementary writer who deals best with the hand he was dealt, so it seemed like the least painful spot for looking in on the fourth season. So on goes the television . . . .

Hey, it's Two Broke Girls! I love the two broke girls. Oh, wait they're over, and here's the season summary. Apparently Watson and Papa Elementary have been having a little tug-of-war over Jr. Elementary this year.

A rather charming-looking sniper is picking off what seems to be random citizens -- pity it can't be Moran, since he's already been used. Junior Elementary is playing wizard dress-up for his fake Anonymous puppeteers. But that's okay, because Papa Elementary has come to end playtime and put him on the sniper case. Oh, Elementary, you just never fail me, do you? Remember that guy named Sherlock Holmes pre-CBS who was master of his profession, his destiny, and any problem, not necessarily murder, you brought to his door?  It sure ain't this guy! The other kids boss him around. Big Daddy E. bosses him around. Joan Watson is surely waiting in the wings to get her dibs in.

And here are our friends from NYPD, Gregson and Bell, looking quite natty, actually. They're telling Watson to get Junior Elementary on the case, so her bossing time is coming. But Papa Elementary is doing a great Mycroft impression and working Junior. And people are impressed to meet Papa Elementary -- great character actors I've enjoyed on other genre shows, too. Points for casting, Elementary!

Damn, Papa Elementary IS this show now. Junior is trailing him around like a quiet shadow, and even when confronting a suspect, he's subdued, not the brash whacko from season one.

"Detection is an exact science -- or ought to be, and should be treated in the same cold unemotional manner," Junior says at one point, coming darn close to an exact quote from The Sign of the Four. And in his more subdued state, it actually comes out passable. Points! (Yes, I've apparently watched @Midnight with Chris Hardwick lately. Very Holmes-related name, "Chris Hardwick.")

Hmm, Junior is using a cab-whistle. Interesting Canonical point -- Sherlock Holmes only whistled for a cab once, when Moriarty's men were looking for him. The rest of the time, he hailed them. Watson was the cab-whistle guy. Oooo, cute plumber's widow. Very dramatic, though. Junior Elementary is being positively sweet under Papa's watchful eye with her.

You know, one thing that always bothered me about Elementary early on was the way Junior always ditched Joan Watson for much of every episode. With John Noble as Papa E. being his new companion, replacing Kitty Winter in the job from last year, one wonders if Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu have issues getting along . . . or maybe running them on separate tracks is just a way to fill more showtime. It's nearly a half hour into this episode before they're in the same room.

But Gregson and Bell are getting some exciting SWAT break-in stuff to do, and that makes me happy for them. Joan Watson gets her detective-work quota in with Junior Elementary in the evidence room. Let's see: Joan is a detective, Junior is a detective, Papa is a detective, Gregson is a detective, Bell is a detective. It gets a bit crowded when the inferences start flowing. There are actually more detectives than non-detective characters still alive at this point in the episode, so when four of the five dicks gang up on a fellow in a room at the precinct fifteen minutes before the end of the hour, you pretty much know the other guy he hung out with must be the real culprit. The guy that Papa Elementary is just about to confront.

Lex Luthor from TV's Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, John Shea! Of course, he's the baddie! (The guy from Doll House just wasn't evil enough on that show.)

Is "leverage" pronounced with a long "e" anywhere but Papa Elementary doing an accent? Oh, well, momentary distraction.

I miss Sherlock Holmes when I watch Elementary. The mastery, the control, the understanding . . . the way I didn't ever get his lines confused with those of the other characters. Papa Elementary is lead detective one minute, Junior is taking the lead the next, zeroing in on the particular variety of a blade of grass. And in the final confrontation with the baddie, Junior, Joan, and Gregson tag-team the accusatory explanation, which they do quite often. There's a certain detective socialism on this show, spreading the solving around.

Oooooo, Papa Elementary is hiding a secret subplot. And he's about to take out an attempted blackmailer in the final moments of the show. Threatening children even. Mycroft and Moriarty in one! And his drippingly evil last line: "Call me 'Mr. Holmes.'"

Sorry, Papa Elementary, I'll call you "Sir Ian McKellen" if you want! You're scary!

Well, that was fun. Elementary is still something of a mess, and doesn't really depict a character one would call "Sherlock Holmes" if other people weren't saying the name when he was in the room so often. But, hey, they're getting comfortable doing what they do, bringing in some interesting guest stars, and maybe Papa Elementary could be the new TV Sherlock Holmes if he just weren't so last-minute EVIL.

But for me, I'm going back to that happy land where Thursday night means Heroes Reborn, Scandal, and The Player, and letting detecting dogs lie until . . . oh, maybe the season finale.

Merry Krampus-time, everybody! Be good, or . . . you know . . . .


  1. I like your Krampus analysis with Morland Holmes. Obviously the show stimulates thought and your blog post shows you care. Don't give up, keep watching and responding. Think of what might have happened to ACD's Sherlock Holmes and John Watson had they had parents to deal with especially fathers. That is a whole lot of personal stuff left out.

  2. Is *that* what happened! I wasn't paying that much attention. DH likes it, though.