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  • Lance Mannion
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Kevin Wolf

I've been enjoying the show, generally, but I agree with your critique and think they've made unnecessary changes. I hadn't really thought about consulting detective vs police-employed consultant but that helps explains why the show isn't all it could be. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the Holmes/Watson dynamic here, as it's probably the most interesting thing happening -- yet further proof that they perhaps weren't interested in actually doing a true Sherlock Holmes show. (And I'm not referring to the change in Watson's gender.)

El Jefe

None of this (or perhaps all of it, given I share your interest in Holmes' "other lives" alluded to in the stories -- wish we had a record of his Norwegian-explorer period) is especially germane to CBS's show, but very much is to Basil Rathbone so I'm sneaking it in :) Rathbone was a scion of an old, leading Liverpool business family, going all the way back to pre-industrial Nonconformist money-making, so by the time Basil's generation came along they were disposed to the sort of boarding-school education and cultural pursuits we'd associate with Basil and his Holmes. He'd had an exciting life as well -- he was a decorated infantry officer in the Great War, during which his kid brother was killed (N.B. Rathbone was in the same outfit as Claude Rains and a couple of other notable actors, much like the cluster of future authors -- Robert Graves, A.A. Milne, Ford Maddox Ford, etc. -- in the Royal Welch Fusiliers.) He was also, after being raised to officer rank as a "temporary gentleman" (not from the Downton Abbey set, but what with the casualty rates in 1914-15 someone of enough education and breeding to wear pips) a fencing instructor in his spare time. And he kept up the skill set, rated in his day as just about the best stage swordsman in Hollywood. (Although he also had great respect for Tyrone Power's skill -- after that magical duel in "Mark of Zorro," has to be one of the two or three best swordfights on film, Rathbone suggested Power "could have fenced Errol Flynn into a cocked hat.") He also had a fondness for practical jokes tied to a personal love of disguise and misdirection. Few actors have been better suited to bring out Holmes' barrelhousing inner mischief.


The post-SB episode seems to address at least some of this critique with respect to physicality, as Holmes escapes handcuffs in a matter of seconds when there is no practical need to do so (the police had already entered the room and detained the would-be robbers), practices some type of swordsmanship whose name I didn't catch, then deliberated invites a confrontation with a serial killer by allowing him to go for a gun while Holmes is armed only with a baton.

I like the show, but having Holmes live off his father while consulting for the police for free (he does do 1 private consultation on the show) seems like an odd choice. I guess the wealthy but absent father was a necessary choice for the sober companion Joan Watson plot.

I like the way Liu is playing Watson and how periodically she can (very briefly) outrace Sherlock b/c of her medical knowledge.

I'm afraid I haven't been very fair to 'Elementary.'

From the beginning -- from before the beginning -- it had the unmistakable whiff to me of American TV hastily grinding out an inferior version of something that caught on like gangbusters in the UK a year or two before. [I'll let you nominate your own members of *that* list. Hint: Since Norman Lear got out of the business, they often last only about a season over here, so look sharp.] Your post has clarified why I got that feeling.

I can easily imagine a US studio exec with a drawer full of stockpiled scripts from the failed pilots of the nth new version of Psych, Monk, etc., flipping on BBC America overnight and thinking "Eureka!"

Lance Mannion

SamR, single stick. And I got a kick out of that because Doyle's Holmes is an expert at single stick. I don't think Doyle ever shows him using it, but if he did it would be just as Miller did and he wouldn't worry about violating the rules of single stick combat either.

Yes, you're right, that episode did have more of what I'd been missing. Plus, Kari Matchett! OTH, the villain was a serial killer and, besides that serial killers bore me, this is at least the 3rd one he's gone up against.

I like Lucy Liu but I think they still don't know how to use her to best advantage. But I'd like to know what you think after my next post, which is about Watson or the Watsons.

stephen benson

i keep waiting for the time when he introduces himself as "sherlock holmes" for someone to say "dude, like, really?" it seems that the show decided to gloss over the fact that everyone they talk with should have some idea about sherlock holmes and dr. watson.

also, the whole idea of sober companion is offensive to me as someone who has 20 years of sobriety under my belt. the idea that, for a fee, somebody would take on the responibility of keeping someone else sober is absolutely at odds with the intention and the traditions of AA. which states: 8. AA, as such, ought to remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

the idea of these recovery organizations is that we help each other along the way in our recovery. not because we are being paid to do so, but because we see someone who needs help that we can give and we give that help. i would imagine that the track record of a paid sober companion would be pretty dismal.

still, lucy liu. nuff said. sign me up.

i wish that they would use more of the holmes casefiles. after all, that's what made us baker street irregulars in the first place.

still, lucy liu. nuff said. sign me up.


The post-Super Bowl episode was the first one I'd watched, and I came away mightily disappointed; not disappointed enough to not watch again, though.

The two things I most missed were that he didn't do any deducing (the crucial discovery was made by Watson, and that should always be verboten) and that, in the best Holmes stories, there's a sense that he's playing games with the reader or viewer; that we know that he knows, and he knows that we know, but he's not telling. I got a straight CBS procedural about a "high-functioning Asperger's" sufferer rather than a sketch of a shrwed sooper-genius who's playing games with everyone out of boredom.


Okay, now that it looks like this thread is wrapped up on its own, so I can't be blamed for killing it, I'll tell the representative anecdote that captures for me the problem of Elementary.

It's actually a shaggy-dog joke I heard Graham Kerr tell on his Galloping Gourmet TV show 'way back when. I don't remember all the specifics, but I'll give it the best shot I can, and you'll have to imagine him doing the lower-class accents:

Old man Doolittle died. They brought his body to the undertaker, who laid him out in the only suit Doolittle had, which wasn't much. The widow Doolittle looked down at him, and over at a fellow in the coffin nearby in a fine suit, and wept.

"I just wish he could be buried in something fine like that gentleman over there," she sobbed.

The undertaker thought a moment and asked the widow to step into the next room for a moment. She did so, and when he called her back in, there was old Doolittle in a magnificent suit, as fine as you could wish.

"Good lord," cried the grateful widow, "how did you manage such a thing?"

The undertaker shrugged modestly. "I switched heads."

That's what I think of when I wonder how American television got from Castle, The Mentalist, Psych, Monk, House, et al, to Elementary.

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