Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Elementary revisited 2021

 Well, I was feeling grumpy about something else entirely tonight, and a bit disappointed that the new episode of Prodigal Son doesn't air on Hulu until 2 AM, when something else on that streaming service caught my eye: our old friend Elementary from CBS. Since I was feeling so crabby about an entirely different thing, why not try watching that seven-season thorn in my Sherlockian paw and see what the first episode looks like in 2021.

A lot has happened since September 27, 2012, when it was near-directly competing with Cumberbatch and Freeman for modern Sherlock of the planet. And since that time, I've spent much time delineating the worst of that show, picked apart its nits, irritated a fan or two, and generally learned to accept, if not love Jonny Lee Miller's version of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. 

Ironically, I give BBC Sherlock a lot of credit for that acceptance. Sherlock spawned a million universes of fanfic and a con that celebrated them. The Elementary panels at 221B Con never won me over, but the growing appreciation for a thousand varieties of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson opened up my mind past the "like/don't like" binary system of fanning Holmes. The Baker Street Babes came up with "All Sherlock is good Sherlock" to put that into words, but I wasn't even one hundred percent on board then. There are definitely bad Sherlocks out there, in all our heads. Doyle's Rotary Coffin then made their motto "No Holmes barred" and everything clicked into place, just in time for me to find my Sherlock Holmes adaptation true love, "Holmes and Watson."

So here I am, back at Elementary.

Johnny Lee Miller is much more palatable now. His accent isn't as bothersome, and I actually like his quick line delivery. The weird pull of Holmes's retirement beekeeping as a character bit for the first episode is still weird, but okay. Lucy Liu's Watson is awfully American. (And I just watched Kill Bill last week, so I can't get her exposed brain out of my head.) But she still gets a free pass, as she did the first time around, because I just like Lucy Liu. 

Lestrade reminds me a wee bit of my brother now, as we've aged a bit in the last nine years.

I like that Sherlock's turning point in the episode is from seeing TV wrestling, which makes a nice counterpoint to him busting into the opera in the next scene to get Watson. They spent a lot more money on the first episode than so many later ones -- look at all those extras! 

And Detective Javier Abreu . . . where did he go? I like how he calls Holmes "Prince Charles." Bell just wasn't sassy enough with Sherlock.

I suspect one of the things that set me off about this Sherlock back in 2012 was the fact that he's such a freakin' mess from square one. He doesn't get to impress Watson and us with how cool he is before we find out the mess that lays behind that cool. He's even physically damaged goods already after wrecking Watson's car in a dramatic moment, running around with bright red cuts on his face.

Oooo, so much depends upon that whole thing about rice making a laundered cell phone work. Have we given up on that yet? Feels like it. And that final pop tune sure doesn't hold up. 

This being streaming, it rolls into episode two, and Sherlock is being a complete weirdo, claiming he had hypnotized himself and that's why he suddenly shots "amygdala" in the middle of his recovery group meeting, then declares the time and walks out. Yeah, suddenly I'm back to my old feeling of "Oh, this is a show for people who think really smart people are deeply flawed to be that smart, so they can feel better about not being smart." And there, once again, I've insulted every fan of that show . . . and in 2012, I didn't realize for a while that Elementary had fans. (Also didn't think America would elect a . . . well, we won't go there.)

Later, when the show would focus on neurodiversity a little more, I think Holmes didn't act quite so goofy. But here at the outset, he's a little random in his abnormal behaviors in a way that . . . well, let me ask you this: Did you ever find Big Bang Theory a little offensive? Ever get seriously bothered by a friend deciding their party theme should be "nerds" and what people costumed like? Well, if you've ever had either of those feelings, you probably have an idea why Elementary got on my nerves early on. 

I almost made it through the pilot episode thinking only happy thoughts about Elementary. And maybe I was even okay until it rolled into episode two. But then it all came flooding back.

This may be one of those blog posts that I just add to the batch without posting a link on social media. Good to have on record, but maybe not making overmuch of it. "No Holmes barred," and that that.


1 comment:

  1. I watched the first few episodes when they originally aired, but I gave up on the show after that. I remember thinking that it seemed too much like “HOUSE, M.D., as MR. MONK in LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT” for my tastes. I liked all those shows better in their original forms, so I didn’t feel the need to watch a cobbled-together kit-bash of a show just because it used Sherlockian names. Maybe I should give the show another chance now...?