Saturday, September 28, 2013

In Pursuit of Pigeons

Kids, are your Thursday nights dull? Do you end up spending the evening watching Antiques Roadshow with your cat? Well, fear not. The good people over at The Eyeball have a rather fetching updated Sherlock Holmes murder mystery that may be right up your alley. As we've already learned from the Brits, murder is funny. And who doesn't like Lucy Liu?

"Oh, you're right, Arsenic," you say. "On second thought, I have no problems with Lucy Liu. I'll just slowly back out of here."

I know, I know. You're a Sherlock fan and you have qualms. "Bu-bu...Sherlock from the BBC is soooo good," you protest. This is true. I am huge fan of the Sherlock series. And who doesn't like Benedict Cumberbatch? People. Without. Souls. That's who. "How can the American version be worth watching?" you demand "It's not even associated with the Sherlock series. Isn't Elementary just a bad American rip-off?" Well, naysayers and people with too many First World Problems, I am here to spread the good news! I'm like Paul Revere, but in reverse. Elementary is entertaining, fresh, smart, and funny as hell. Sort of like yours truly, but I am not quite as dead sexy as Johnny Lee Miller. 

Hot (adj.) mess (noun)

So, how is Elementary different from Sherlock? Well, the major differences are that it's set in New York City instead of London, and Sherlock is a consultant for the NYPD, supervised by Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn). Dr. Watson in this case is named Joan Watson, portrayed by Lucy Liu.

Yes. Yes, exactly like that.

Sherlock, for his part, is a recovering addict. I can't remember exactly which drugs he was doing. I am pretty sure it was all of them, but most specifically heroin. Sherlock ended up becoming a junkie after the death of his beloved Irene Adler, and Joan Watson was hired by Sherlock's mysterious, absent, and filthy rich father to be his sober companion. Joan had been a real actual medical doctor until she lost a patient and thus began doubting her abilities. She quit her hospital job to become a sober companion and that is how she ended up living with Sherlock. She accompanies him on murder investigations and to his addict meetings, helping him with both his sobriety and figuring out whodunit, all the while making it clear to him that she's not for a second going to put up with his bullshit. It is adorable bullshit, though.

I really like the way Joan's character is written. She's a strong female character, but the writing doesn't fall into the trap of turning her into the Asian Dragon Lady stereotype. The show begins with her being Sherlock's sidekick, but as the first season progressed, it became clear that Sherlock is totally dependent on her. 

Please tell me this investigation has something to do with your ninth step.

"But," you ask. "Isn't this just going to turn into a Moonlighting thing where there's all this sexual tension and they finally get together and then the show just isn't as good? Isn't this pairing just going to devolve into them slobbering all over each other?" 'Tis a valid question, but I don't think so. It's true that there's a male and female lead who are clearly hot for each other and completely repressing it. But, the thing that works with Elementary is that you know they'd both like to throw caution to the proverbial wind and bone, but you kind of don't want them to get together.  I don't know if that was intentional or not, but it really works and it's very refreshing. Sherlock and Joan live and work together, so it's almost like they're already in a relationship in a sense anyway. Since Sherlock has had so many drug problems and so many demons, Joan would totally be slumming it to get with Sherlock, and Joan is so the Scully to his Mulder that there's no way she'd ever admit to having feelings for him. There's also an intimacy to their relationship that I don't think can occur in a teevee (or real?) romantic relationship because they're working together toward a common goal instead of playing suckface.

These aren't the Gryffindor colors? No, I'm quite sure you'e wrong, Watson.

I guess the ratings haven't been all that impressive, but let's keep in mind that this is the same network that airs Big Brother (blech) so maybe there's not that much appeal within The Eyeball demographic. I really do feel like this show would be doing better ratings-wise if it were on BBC America, because the the British-meets-North American format is becoming their oeuvre (Yes, I just used "oeuvre" in a sentence. Going to punch myself now for being a pretentious fuckwit.) Regardless, it was renewed for a second season, so please go watch it before it gets cancelled. 

The only thing that rankles me a little about the series, and this may just be me, but I don't feel they've been able to naturally incorporate the Sherlock Holmes mythology as seamlessly into the series as Sherlock has done. Moriarty has made an appearance of sorts, but it felt unnecessary. I know, I know. Throw rotten produce at me now. The show can stand alone as a buddy cop murder mystery, and while I like the Holmes mythology thrown in there, Elementary is so character driven that it doesn't really need Moriarty to be interesting. There is Moriarty and Irene Adler stuff going on in the series, but I'm not going to spoil it for people who haven't seen the first season.

The Season 2 premiere, entitled "Step Nine," follows Sherlock and Watson getting mixed up in a murder investigation to help out Sherlock's former police contact, DI Lestrade(yup). Lestrade was investigating the death of a woman, and he's pretty convinced that her husband killed her. The only wrinkle in this is that Lestrade has been suspended from Scotland Yard because the woman's husband is a member of a prominent family, and so he and his legal team launched a smear campaign to discredit Lestrade and get him suspended from duty. After Sherlock and Joan succeed in nabbing a Gary Busey look-a-like perp, whom they were led to by staking out carrier pigeons, Sherlock gets a call from a desperate Lestrade, begging him to help out with the case. Sherlock and Joan head off to London (LONDON) to ostensibly help Scotland Yard look for the lamming Lestrade, but really they're going to help Lestrade prove that this shady dude offed his wife. 

They plan to stay at Sherlock's old London digs, 221B (natch), but when they arrive, they find that Mycroft (EFFING MYCROFT) has gotten rid of all of Sherlock's stuff and turned the flat into a sweet pad. Sherlock is super condescending to Mycroft, and Sherlock thinks Mycroft is being nice to Joan because he wants sommadat, but what Mycroft is really after are some tips on how he can better get along with his brother. As an added bonus, Mycroft is totally played by Rhys Ifans. 

You mean you don't love what I've done with the place?

Hijinks ensue and Joan, whom Sherlock has been training in his crime fighting ways, observes that Mycroft has a scar on his hand from surgery. She questions him about it, and he confesses that he had a bone marrow transplant and wants to repair his relationship with Sherlock, even though Sherlock banged Mycroft's former fiance. Well. D'aww. Joan's advice to Mycroft is that if he really wants Sherlock to listen to him, he should do something to get his attention. So, naturally, Mycroft takes this advice and builds a bomb and blows up a bunch of Sherlock's stored possessions.

Now I've destroyed things you love.

So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

Needless to say, Joan and Sherlock are able to assist Lestrade in proving his theory and arresting this super shady rich a-hole, but some questions do arise about the nature of Sherlock and Watson's relationship via Sherlock's speculation that Joan wants to bang his bro. I'm really hoping the writers aren't going to decide to ship them off because the dynamic they've already created between the two works perfectly well for the series' purpose.  

Elementary airs at 10 p.m.  EST on Thursdays on The Eyeball. 

You mean you're gonna stop yewwing at da teeveez 'bout how you can't bewieve dat ugwy old vase is worth dat much? Howcomez?

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