Elementary -- The First Season
Sherlock HolmEs has been enjoying a renaissance in recent years, with a pair of big-budget Hollywood films starring Robert Downey, Jr., and Jude Law, not to mention a British television series, "Sherlock," starring Benedict Cumberbatch as an updated, 21st century version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed character.
Last fall, CBS jumped onto the bandwagon with an American series, "Elementary," starring Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson. The first season is now available on DVD, and it’s true to the spirit of the original stories while being a very different take on literature’s most famous detective and his ever-trusty sidekick.
Like "Sherlock," "Elementary" updates Holmes, though in this instance the native Londoner finds himself transplanted to New York City. As in the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes uses drugs -- or, rather, he has used them in the past, first as a way to sharpen his already-heightened senses and intellect and then, after a personal tragedy, as a way to deal with rage and grief.
Dr. Joan Watson is a former surgeon and now a "sober companion," an occupation Holmes initially shrugs off as am "addict sitter." Indeed, Watson starts off as a kind of private nurse and sobriety enforcer, having been hired by Holmes’ wealthy father to help keep Holmes on the road to recovery.
The series has the usual hallmarks of a procedural -- the crime of the week, the labyrinthine plots that sometimes turn out to be pretty shallow, the often too-pat resolutions -- but it also possesses an extra edge of smarts and danger. Foremost on any fan’s mind, of course, is just how and when Holmes’ nemesis, Moriarty, will appear: Will he turn out to be a later incarnation of a brilliant, sociopathic teenager Holmes bests in an early episode?
Will "M.," the lone initial the identifies a serial killer Holmes previously pursued in England and failed to apprehend, turn out to stand for "Moriarty?" The season offers answers, but makes us wait for them in a deliciously tantalizing manner. (The final handful of episodes are essentially one major arc leading to an epic showdown.)
Though the show initially tries to demonstrate its cred as a show for grown-ups interested in serious dramatic series television by presenting Holmes as into kinky sex, the show soon shows a deeper and more daring strain of maturity by treating the subject of addiction with surprising sophistication.