Elementary – Season 1
Is my Western television curse broken? Nah, probably not, though I did casually started watching Elementary out of the blue after many runs into the show on TV. So yeah, I’m up to date and waiting for the season to end, but without withdrawal symptoms.
I’m not really a Sherlock buff, haven’t read the stories, I actually avoided Robert Downey Jr’s first movie, and other than my obsession with Shirley Holmes as a kid, I just knew about the guy. Of course, my first curiosity piquing was because Lucy Liu was announced to be this version’s Watson. Lucy Liu has kind of been an Asian staple of my growing up  and for some reason I have been increasingly interested into Asian-American representation — and my mind quickly went there; considering the English-Chinese population… WHAT IF Sherlock had been Asian. Lucy Liu and an English-Chinese Sherlock.
Anyway, in its announcement, a lot of eyes were rolled because Elementary was coming hot off the tracks of BBC’s Sherlock, there were going to be obvious comparisons and moans about how Americans can’t stop remaking and revamping things. The good thing is that both are completely different. For instance, Jonny Lee Miller’s interpretation of Sherlock reminds me quite a bit of Gregory House (coincidentally, Lisa Edelstein guests in an episode), for better or worse. Of course, Elementary has been developed for long-lasting seasons that CBS hopes (with all their mighty hearts) to last several seasons so they can drag you for years and years, and they’re doing a decent job at it. The show is entertaining with Sherlock and Watson’s banter, and unlike Downey and Law’s interpretation, I don’t want them to be together so we can all avoid arguments about Lucy Liu being with a Caucasian man once again, gender roles, and how men and women can’t be friends.
The case on their own are interesting but forgettable at the same time — you know how it is with procedural shows now, in the end they all begin to blend in together. However, the mysteries are interesting enough to develop the characters on their first seasons, even if a little too slow (or maybe I’ve been really spoiled by Japanese television ) as we’re introduced to M on episode 12 (in the episode simply titled M.), and it isn’t until episode 18 (Déjà Vu All Over Again) when we finally see Watson getting in the fun. I actually never thought I would see the day of having Lucy Liu trying to pick a car’s lock.
There are still a few episodes of the season’s left, and even though Elementary is enjoyable (it’s Mother’s Approved, and she watches all procedural shows), it’s really not must-see TV… but maybe that’s a good thing.
By the way, Keizoku is much MUCH better. And they don’t need over 12 episodes for character build up or a compelling story. But it has nothing to do with Sherlock.
I really liked how they developed the characters over time. It’s such a nice surprise for a procedural, and I like how they sneak in hints to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories aside from the larger elements like the setup and characters like M and Irene. Some of my online friends might describe the show as a “comfort hug” of emotions attached to random cases.
@Diandra Rodriguez, yeah, it’s setup nicely for the long run. And the characters aren’t annoying or overly lovable so that you won’t get madly obsess over them or overly stressed from hating them. It’s everything that cable usually is not, and I think that’s a good thing. LOL
Personally I prefer it over “Sherlock” if only for the fact that it is like “Holmes On The Range” series by Steve Hockensmith, it isn’t just reworking classic Sherlock mysteries for a modern era, but instead just updating the setting and using Sherlock’s methodology to solve cases, which is far more interesting.
True it might not be the most challenging show on TV to follow but makes for a fun weekly dose of escapism.
@Elwood Jones, that’s true. I do prefer to sit down and catch this over Sherlock, even though I see Sherlock as being stylistically superior. This one is not a challenging show (much), not thematically, but structurally. I was trying to catch up on shows I’m supposed to be watching (like Games of Thrones or Hannibal), but I just can’t with them.
I had mild interest in this because of the Watson gender switch, but I just can’t bring myself to watch tv procedural shows on its entirety for some reason, network or cable origins. I even tried The Wire and Dexter (these are procedural, I guess), but I just can’t finish them yet despite them having individually good-to-great episodes.
@Rodrigo, I like procedural on network TV… catching them whenever they are on, and just be able to watch from there without having to worry if you missed anything from another episode. That’s why I liked Elementary, it’s got that quality. A similar thing happens with CSI or Criminal Minds, they are just on TV and you can just know what’s going on. It doesn’t matter if you catch a later season first, and then catch up with one of the earlier seasons, you still get to learn about the character interactions.
I don’t know about The Wire, but Dexter is different. Usually cable shows require to focus from the first episode because they’re written as arcs. I can’t watch stand-alone Dexter episodes, and they’re on TV quite often now from different seasons on different channels, but I just can’t.
@amy, My dad and brother LOVE procedural crime shows. Somehow, it doesn’t appeal to me. But my brother doesn’t watch shows that have constant arcs, network or cable. But my dad watches GOT (and loves it) and has seen other cable shows.
I also have my rule of not watching network drama shows going on for me. I tried giving Arrow and Elementary a shot, but I tuned off from both 3-4 episodes in.
But then again, I may watch a few comedy shows that might feel similar to procedurals in the way that you can watch a random episode and still enjoy it. The Middle and The Big Bang Theory come to mind in their earlier seasons, but they also have arcs later on. Modern Family is another example and probably the closer to a successful “procedural comedy show”, but that changed a little bit with Season 3 and 4.
@Rodrigo, both my parents LOVE procedural crime shows too. My mother doesn’t have the attention span to watch cable shows with constant arcs, coz she just catches TV when she’s in the kitchen eating and about to go to sleep or when she’s exercising.
My dad has watched both, but he prefers network. I think he finds Don Draper as too much of a jerk to care for Mad Men, but he liked United States of Tara coz Toni Colette is crazy. I don’t think my dad likes some of the explicit content in cable shows, I think he tried GoT but he was like “there’s too much sex” so he stopped watching. I think he was also watching Spartacus?? Same issue, I think.