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Kevin Wolf

I keep watching Elementary, mostly in that "I need a crime show" mood you mention. I will say, again, the program is not all it should be. I was actually a little horrified when they had Watson lie to Holmes in order to keep herself associated with him. I'm actually, with each episode, less confident that the writers will write their way out of these problems. But time will tell.

Ralph H.

Lance, you are a thoughtful commentator as always and I share your great admiration for the Cumberbatch/Freeman combo as the best rendition out there. But I also enjoy Elementary, mainly because of Jonny Lee Miller, who I find 98% as appealing a Holmes as Cumberbatch. But I also think you underrate Lucy Liu, and see in her a hard endge that will become more evident (I hope) as the writing staff evolves & adjusts to what she brings to the screen. & for the record, IMO Robert Downey Jr. comes in a distant third in recent Holmes portrayals, but Jude Law was one of the finest Watsons ever.

El Jefe


"Robert Downey Jr. comes in a distant third in recent Holmes portrayals, but Jude Law was one of the finest Watsons ever."

This. One of the best things, if not the best, that Law has done with his acting career.


Also agreed with the core of what you've said about Freeman as Watson, which is that it is one of those things which makes us feel privileged to be alive in our own times. Always nice when there are still some of those out there.


I've watched two episodes of "Elementary" so far, and this week's will make the three I need before I decide to keep it on the DVR or write it off. So far, it's failed on almost every level, so I expect to bid it a fond adieu.

A detective story or a crime story can be anything, but a "Sherlock Holmes" story needs at least three elements:

1) A Holmes who dazzles us with correct deductions based on seemingly nothing. He is quirky, unpleasant, humorous, curmudgeonly, loveable, and devoted to Watson, who is his lifeline to the "real" world.

2) A Watson who is steadfast, loyal, and a step or two behind Holmes. He or she doesn't have to be stupid, but Watson is our entry point to the enigma that is Sherlock Holmes, and we need to perceive the detective through the doctor's eyes. We need to feel that Watson will do anything for Holmes; that his military past -- a willingness to sacrifice himself for his comrade -- will take precedence over even his medical knowledge.

3) A conclusion that wraps up all the details that have been fairly presented to us, but whose significance we missed.

"Elementary" is a lot of things, and may well be a fine teevee show, but it is not a "Sherlock Holmes" show.

For my money, Brett still is Sherlock Holmes. Even at his most sanguine, there was always something going on in that head. You could see the wheels turning and the need for constant stimulation. Cumberbatch is very, very good, and with a season or two more, may surpass Brett. Miller is a nice guy, a good actor, and pleasant to watch, but there's no there there.


Great stuff, on one of the underestimated characters in classic literature (and TV).

A tangent: back in the '80s, watching the Brett version, I saw an episode that took Holmes and Watson out to the country house of some crusty rich Englishman. At one point Holmes went off to think while Watson and the host--who were clearly friendly--got out their shotguns to go hunting. It suddenly hit me: "Jesus, Watson has his own life!" As dumb as it sounds, I never really realized that before, even knowing about Afghanistan and the wife and so on. I've had a different (and more admiring) view of Watson ever since.


Very well done - reading here - I have not seen the show - I'll be honest once I had heard the basic framework of the show - Undercutting Holmes indepedence by having his dad place him in New York and hiering Watson to babysit him and having him working for the police in an offical capacity of some sort and the clunky Watson is s woman (although I love Lucy liu) I put it on my never watch list.
There is one point that came to me as I was reading your essay - I can't imagnine but that in Elementary every time Holmes looks at Watson part of him sees his father - and seeing as we've not seen him one must assume theirs is not a happy relationship.
and you can't help but imagine that at some point the writers will have them fall in love - I suspect towards the end of season 2 as they run out of ideas and the they need a cliff hanger.

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