Saturday, 29 September 2012

Mini-Review: Elementary Season 1 Episode 1 'Pilot'

Let me get one thing out of the way first, this is certainly not going to be a ‘Sherlock’ beater, it doesn’t have the writing, actors or vision to do anything of that sort. But what ‘Elementary’ can do is be an ideal replacement for endlessly repetitive shows like ‘CSI’ and ‘Law and Order’, the reason for that is that ‘Elementary’ features characters with actual depth, a more than capable lead actor and noticeably superior writing to its rivals.

Sherlock Holmes, a recovering drug addict, is assigned a companion, Joan Watson, to monitor his narcotics recovery. Watson accompanies Holmes in his job as a consultant for the NYPD and discovers both her subject’s incredible intellect and her own aptitude for the occupation.

Television shows that have 24 episode seasons never truly have a solid season arc so the viewer has to be prepared for several case-of-the-week style episodes in order to get episodes that delve into the deeper aspects of the show’s characters. Thankfully ‘Elementary’ shows that it can deliver actually interesting case-of-the-week episode that additionally include some character development.

The writing here is clearly smarter than other shows of the same genre, however if compared to the excellence of ‘Sherlock’ it suddenly doesn’t seem nearly as impressive. There is no denying that the idea for this series was plagiarised from the aforementioned ‘Sherlock’ (and if that isn’t the case and the creator simply did not do enough research to discover the existence of ‘Sherlock’ then that is just as bad) but nevertheless it attempts to distance itself from its vastly superior older brother.

Jonny Lee Miller’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is certainly worthwhile and couldn’t be considered a copy of Benedict Cumberbatch’s interpretation. Whilst Miller’s Sherlock is twisted in a different way than Cumberbatch’s, I still have to admit that there is simply no competition between the two as the ‘Sherlock’ actor comes out on top no matter what way you look at it. What Cumberbatch benefits from though is that he is provided with consistently (for the most part) superb writing where as Miller, even in this pilot episode, struggles to perfect his performance whilst incorporating the awfully textbook “tortured genius” clichés present in the script.

Lucy Liu’s Watson should not even be mentioned in the same breath as Martin Freeman’s portrayal of the character, Liu does an adequate job with a new take on the classic character but the change of Watson’s gender too much screams “Look we made Watson a woman, aren’t we original?” rather than feeling like a natural alteration.

‘Elementary’ features some smart writing and Jonny Lee Miller at his best. As I said earlier it won’t be a ‘Sherlock’ beater but at this point at least I am not too opposed to the idea of both existing simultaneously, a huge change from how I felt about this a matter of months ago.

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