Sunday, April 29, 2018

The return of damaged Sherlock

With CBS's Elementary returning on Monday night for the start of a sixth season, it's a good time to step back and review what this show is about. Set that ACD Canon aside for a moment, because as any good Elementarian knows, we're heading back into deepest, darkest AU terrain.

In the alternate Sherlock universe of Elementary, you may recall, we encounter a modern day incarnation of Sherlock Holmes after what might be seen as a parallel to the "great hiatus." He's been a consulting detective working with Scotland Yard, and has run into the threads of Moriarty's criminal web. Yet in this world, Moriarty isn't a "Final Problem" and done. No. Moriarty wins.

Moriarty has killed Sherlock's lover, he has sunken into heroin addiction seriously enough to have his father send him for rehab in the United States, and when Sherlock leaves rehab, his father hires the daughter of Mary Watson, ex-surgeon Joan, to be Sherlock's companion and keep him off the drugs.

The five seasons that follow weaved a tapestry of student-teacher relationships, drug dependency issues, autism spectrum notes, male family member drama, and a little bit of Sheriarty and Joancroft. What seemed an odd departure from Sherlockian norms in its first season now has a comfortable, not-all-that-remarkable feel to it, unless you count its conservatively heterosexual bent. And going into season six, Elementary's troubled Sherlock seems to have some manner of brain damage to deal with, one of those odd TV-medical issues that makes you hallucinate people to talk to. He and Joan were fighting a lot at the end of last season, but the preview of this year's opener has a very nice hugging scene in it, so it appears all that is water under that bridge you can see from Sherlock's brownstone roof.

Elementary is very much an alternate universe for those who like weekly police procedurals with a strong dose of keeping Sherlock Holmes humbled, almost an antithesis to the more grandiose Sherlock Holmes of a certain other series. Nobody is probably going to get too riled up about season six and declare that their headcanon stopped after season two. After almost six years and a wee bit of a hiatus of its own, Elementary has found its place in this weird and wacky Sherlockian world of 2018, maybe not in the forefront of Sherlockian fandom, but a familiar pillow on the larger couch for an evening of settling in.

Who knows, an Elementary alum might even make it to the January BSI dinner one of these days . . . being the primary Sherlock of New York City, the show would seem only appropriate for a presence at the primary Sherlock Holmes club of New York. But that's for some future day. For now, it's back to a full season of Elementary on weird old CBS.


  1. Brad, I can't even describe how saddened I was that I wasn't able to explain to you in great detail and depth during the Thursday meeting how unironically excited I am for this show to return. I'm sure you would have been riveted!!!! XD

    1. And I would have been very glad to hear these things! Really hated to miss that one, tried to get out of obligations after Marvel Studios just had to go and move their durn movie up a week, but, alas, no go. Next month, however, I want to hear all the pre and post and during unironical excitement!