(Hulu/VOD) The year is 2012. A well-received modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes — SHERLOCK — from the beloved writer/director of classic DOCTOR WHO ep -Blink- was already on its second season. CBS announced ELEMENTARY, which was squarely positioned as a CBS procedural with Johnny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Watson, positioned in modern day New York City. Most folks scoffed, wondering how it could possibly compare to SHERLOCK.
Jump ahead to today, and I found ELEMENTARY to be the superior show for many reasons, but here are a few that stand out:
1) ELEMENTARY let their characters grow naturally, as opposed to solely saddling them with sensational baggage like -some- Holmes adaptations.
2) ELEMENTARY humanized Holmes without detracting from his superhuman facets. He’s an addict, he’s a brilliant asshole, but here he does care about people, especially not hurting folks in his orbit. His arc with Watson is one of the most mature partnership and friendship arcs I’ve seen portrayed on network TV.
3) Liu is the best Watson, and it’s not just because she’s so well-dressed. She has her own voice and place alongside Sherlock, although it takes a bit for the writers to get her there. She’s also one of the few Watsons shown to properly exist independently of Sherlock.
4) It provides the freshest, most interesting take on Moriarty. To say anymore would spoil matters.
While I found the show to have peaked in the second season — if you’re pressed for time, watch the first two and leave it there — all -seven- seasons are extremely watchable, partially because of the reasons listed above, but also because of the strong supporting and guest cast, which included Aidan Quinn as Holmes’ staple Captain Gregson, Steppenwolf regular Jon Michael Hill as Detective Marcus Bell, and Fringe’s John Noble as Sherlock’s father.
Lastly, the title sequence was absolutely lovely, and I would always take the time to watch it.