Monday, September 17, 2018

Checking in with near-the-end of season six Elementary.

On the topic of Sherlockian subjects some people just don't get -- in preparation for the season finale, I watched the penultimate episode of CBS's Elementary for season six today.

In under two weeks we come to the sixth anniversary of that show's first appearance. In under two days, it's much-delayed sixth season winds up. It seems to wind down about a million in viewership each year, but CBS has seen enough syndication value in Elementary to give it a full seven season run. It gets the nod of a panel or three at 221B Con, hundreds of works of fanfic, and the occasional talk-up on one of the usual Sherlockian news feeds like the Norwegian Explorers Facebook, so it definitely has its fans.

But, man, I still don't get it.

Watching "Fit to Be Tied," which brought back the serial strangler who posed as an addiction-group friend to Elementary's Sherlock, who had brain damage at that point, early in the season when last I watched . . . well, it might as well have been a random show in another language. I just didn't see the Sherlock Holmes in it. Police procedural, yes. Those New York precinct rooms are unmistakeable. But Sherlock Holmes?

And when the episode got done with all its quietly talky parts, there was this whole Jason Voorhees/Michael Myers part where the serial strangler attacks Joan Watson and slowly stalks her through her house, vanishing the minute she connects with a desperate stab at him with a broken airplane propeller (?), that had I not known the character, would have mistaken for some standard TV movie damsel in distress.

So I went in search of what people enjoyed about this episode. First stop, IMDB, where no user comments had been posted yet. The second, at, written by someone who is plainly on the side of the show, expresses frustrations at the primary mystery, a necessary suspension of disbelief required by the plot, and holds out hope for next week's episode improving upon what happened in this one. TV Fanatic's review gets into all of the character soap opera details from the season that's winding down, makes a few observations on the main mystery as well, and then gets into the same unlikely-seeming cliffhanger the episode left us with. Rotten Tomatoes had nothing on the episode, but did have five critics willing to give it a "Fresh" rating, three after the first episode of season six, one a few more in, and one in August.

The thread one can see running through all of this is that the characters of Lucy Liu's Joan Watson and Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock have their fans. The mysteries may be better or worse from episode to episode, but it seems like it's the characters that people enjoy about this show. And the season finale is definitely about those characters, as they try to prove Joan's innocence from a charge that makes no sense to viewers of this week's episode, mainly through quietly talking about things, if the promo scene with Joan's lawyer is any indication.

But again, I just don't get this show, nor its relation to Sherlock Holmes as we have known him. How did that "Fresh" critic on Rotten Tomatoes from the Hindustan Times put it?  "Will this show ever stand up and be counted among the best Sherlock productions ever? Probably not. But it sure is going where other Sherlocks are afraid to step."

Yes. Yes, it is. On to the finale.

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