Doc On The Box – Elementary Season One

Elementary_S1_eSherlock Holmes, consulting detective, worked in London assisting Scotland Yard, until a devastating loss causes him to give in to his addictions. After leaving a rehabilitation centre in New York, he is assigned a sober companion, Joan Watson, to keep him on the straight and narrow while he resumes his work assisting Inspector Gregson of the NYPD. But there are challenges ahead for Sherlock – the devious murderers that populate New York, the ever-present temptation of drugs, some long shadows from his past in London, and, most of all, comparisons with that other guy – you know, same name, works in London, looks like an otter – seriously, check that link out!

I’ll admit, when I heard about this show when it was announced, my first thought was fairly close to my reaction when I heard that Disney were going to cast Jennifer Garner as Miss Marple. I basically couldn’t believe it. Fair enough, if Sherlock had been rubbish, then why not try and do the idea properly, but, let’s face it, Sherlock is a long way from being rubbish. Moreover, it’s still going on, so why on earth was this series being made?

So I ignored it. Not hard, it is broadcast on Sky over here and I’m not a fan of paying for my television. But then I spotted a box-set of the first season of Elementary for £15 and figured, why not? I’d heard some good things about it, so what the hell? At the very least, it can give me some ammunition for a rant on this blog.

No rant, though. Sorry. It’s a damn fine series.

Jonny Lee Miller is outstanding as Holmes. He’s an actor who’s only appeared on my radar as Sick Boy in Trainspotting, but after not watching anything with him in since then – oh, hang on, I did see Dracula 2000 – I wasn’t expecting a lot. As such, it was a remarkably pleasant surprise. As intense as the best Holmes performances and, at the same time, human. This is a vastly differnet Sherlock than Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance, while still clearly being sourced from the same character. Lucy Liu, as Watson, gives a nuanced performance as Watson – not a war veteran this time, but an ex-doctor who made a fatal mistake on the operating table. Watson’s development throughout the series is one of the many highlights of the series, along with the complete lack of any romantic development between the two leads – another concern that I had prior to watching the show.

The non-arc episodes of the series (which is most of them) are highly entertaining. A couple fall into the problem of the villain being obvious due to the lack of any other suspects, but, unlike some recent episodes of Sherlock, the mystery plot is always prevalent and some of them have some very clever twists.

The arc episodes are outstanding, and I’d recommend anyone avoids any spoilers about them. Needless to say, some of the Holmes classic themes are visited – Moriarty, Irene Adler, Sebastian Moran (minor spoiler as to who plays him, but it’s an outstanding performance) – but in an original way. Unless I missed something, there isn’t the wholesale lifting of things such as the central idea of The Bruce-Partington Plans that Sherlock is guilty of at times.

I’m probably not the only person who badly pre-judged this show, so if, like me, you haven’t checked it out, then I heartily recommend seeking it out on DVD. You won’t regret it – unless you get the finale spoiled for you…

Oh, and please don’t spoil Season Two for me in the comments. Ta!



  1. I really enjoyed the show – but then, for me it’s got great pedigree as the show runner and some of the crew worked on Medium, which to me was a really great mystery show. However, the appearance of a certain ex-footballer nearly derailed it for me as he just can’t act for toffee! I prefer the Moffat/Gatiss iteration but this is a show that deserves to do well.


  2. Not come across Medium but I think it might be on Netflix, so I’ll try and give it a go.

    As for the footballer, while he’s never going to play Richard III – “Give me a horse or I’ll rip your expletiving head off” – I thought he did a really good job here. Much more depth that I’d have expected. And making him sing songs about Arsenal – who I’m pretty sure he doesn’t support, having mainly been linked with another London club – was pretty funny in a meta kind of way.


  3. My favourite Sherlock Holmes TV film series is the Russian one (1979-1986) consisting of 11 episodes. The episodes are very close to the original stories.Even the characters of Holmes and Watson are faithfully depicted, though Holmes is shown as more easy-going. In fact, Livanov who played the part of Holmes, very closely resembled the drawings of Sherlock Holmes that accompanied Conan Doyle’s original stories in the Strand Magazine.


  4. I agree that Elementary is better than initially expected, though I think shortening the season to 10-13 episodes would drastically increase the quality and reduce the amount of filler. Sherlock comparisons are inevitable, but Elementary takes so many liberties with the source material that it creates a new world. When I see Benedict Cumberbatch I see Sherlock Holmes, but Jonny Lee Miller is more like a dysfunctional but brilliant detective who happens to have the same name.

    It’s easy watching, and the production values are good, but shifting the balance towards the main story arc could have made it a much better show.

    Won’t leave any spoilers here, but look forward to hearing what you think of Series 2.


    • Actually, I enjoyed the plethora of non-arc episodes. Comparing it to other whodunit shows, The Mentalist suffers whenever Red John isn’t around (which is why I’ve stopped watching it) and Castle suffers when the somewhat convoluted arc is being followed. Elementary had a good balance between making both eminently watchable, imho


      • But I take your point that Cumberbatch is closer to the traditional Holmes archetype – but sometimes, I prefer it when Holmes isn’t performing his “magic” deductions, which happens less often in Elementary.


Leave a Reply to Puzzle Doctor Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.