October 31, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Elementary”


ELEMENTARY:  Thursday 10PM on CBS

Nothing makes ELEMENTARY look better than the arrival of ABC’s Forever, an even more ersatz updated Sherlock Holmesisn procedural that features a fantastically knowledgeable British detective partnered with a more practical American (and adds a supernatural element, as Forever‘s hero is immortal).  Forever is simplistically sentimental and overly ingratiating, while Elementary has a bit of an edge, which serves it better.

Tonight’s Season 3 premiere, written by series creator Robert Doherty and Executive Producer Craig Sweeny, and directed by John Polson, picked up, after a prologue, eight months after the events of last season’s finale, which had seen the splintering of the partnership between Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and his Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), as Holmes left New York to return to London.  In the interim, we discovered that Watson had become an accomplished police consultant on her own, working with what are still the series’ only other two regulars, Detectives Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Bell (Jon Michael Hill).

Holmes returned to New York in the middle of a particularly puzzling Watson investigation, and he brought a complication in tow, one that will no doubt spark intrigue in at least the early part of the season;  a beautiful new protege, Kitty (Ophelia Lovibond).  Kitty will certainly have secrets, and whether her existence as a character is the start of Elementary‘s long-term plan to ignite more romantic sparks between its Holmes and Watson remains to be seen.

For now, the series is working well on its original terms.  Miller, while not the powerhouse Holmes of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock (which, to be sure, provides far superior material to work with), is an entertaining network TV-level Holmes, feverishly smart and impatient with social niceties, only really able to bear Watson.  His rapport with Liu, even when their characters are at odds, is convincingly intuitive and close.  Liu, for her part, has dispersed the snippiness that was the hallmark of the earlier part of her career, and she’s made Watson a believable detective who’s more in touch with her feelings than her mentor is.

The weakness of Elementary, as it’s been since the start, comes in its mysteries, which the necessities of network TV require be laid out and solved in under 45 minutes.  The premiere’s was better than most, although still silly.  It featured a locked elevator killing that turned out to be accomplished via a one-ton electromagnet in a hotel bathroom pulling pre-placed bullets out of a wall.  Gina Gershon supplied some campy menace as the gang boss behind it all, but it was mostly pretty routine.

The appeal of Elementary, as is the case with most procedurals, lies with its crimesolvers rather than its crimes.  Elementary faced off with Scandal last season and got beaten up, although the fact that NBC was barely in the race (with the always lagging Parenthood) helped it survive.  Things aren’t any easier this season, now that How To Get Away With Murder is in the 10PM slot on ABC, but CBS’s rebooted Holmes should still manage to stay close enough to keep its deductions an ongoing enterprise.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."