Elementary: First Look

Posted by Grey Saturday, May 19, 2012

The game is afoot. Emulating the success of their British competition, CBS will be premièring Elementary, a contemporary update of the adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective and his trusty old friend. We take a first look at the potential train-wreck with the release of its first trailer.

First and foremost, we find it necessary to set the record straight that often-quoted catchphrase, "Elementary, my dear Watson", was in fact non-canonical and has never actually been uttered by Holmes in any of the sixty Holmes stories written by Conan Doyle. Though it is true that Holmes often remarks that his logical conclusions are "elementary".

With that out of the way, I for one, am a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, thereby explaining my doubts with this upcoming American TV series. With Sherlock, BBC's remarkable modern take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's world-famous master detective, receiving tremendous critical acclaim and incredible fanfare, it is perhaps only elementary that American TV networks will try their hands on their very own contemporary take on the timeless adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Here's a little nitty bitty background on Elementary, which can probably explain my doubts over the upcoming TV series.

In an interview with The Independent, Sue Vertue, Sherlock Executive Producer at Hartswood Films, claimed: "We understand that CBS are doing their own version of an updated Sherlock Holmes. It's interesting, as they approached us a while back about remaking our show. At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernised Sherlock Holmes doesn't resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying. We are very proud of our show and like any proud parent, will protect the interest and wellbeing of our offspring."

While the idea of the remake never come to fruition, CBS proceed with their very "Elementary" while ensuring that their show would not infringe on Sherlock in a statement to The Independent:

"Our project is a contemporary take on Sherlock Homes that will be based on Holmes, Watson and other characters in the public domain, as well as original characters. We are, of course, respectful of all copyright laws and will not infringe on any stories or works that may still be protected."

From the outset, we have certainly noticed a great depart with the show firmly set in New York, America, as Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller), the former consultant to Scotland Yard, travels to New York City to check into a rehabilitation center. And there he was somehow stuck with his companion Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu).

We have earlier mentioned how both Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller shared roles in Danny Boyle's stage adaptation of Mary Shelley's gothic classic, Frankenstein, so it is intriguing to witness Miller's take on yet another character portrayed by Cumberbatch as well.

And before you cry afoul, the idea for modernised take on Sherlock Holmes complete with a female Watson in contemporary America is far from a new idea (thanks, Wikipedia). In 1987, CBS produced "The Return of Sherlock Holmes", a TV film/pilot featuring a cryogenically reanimated Holmes and a Jane Watson. CBS tried their hands on an identical concept in 1994 with "Sherlock Holmes Returns", another TV film/pilot.

Ahead of the upcoming TV season, CBS announced their Fall 2012 schedule last week and released the first trailer of the TV series. With no further ado, hit the jump to check out the trailer.

While this doesn't exactly confirmed my suspicion over the prospect of this Americanized contemporary take, it certainly doesn't impress one too. Nevertheless, I am always game for another take on our favourite detective.

Here's the official synopsis of the TV series:

ELEMENTARY stars Jonny Lee Miller as detective Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson in a modern-day drama about a crime-solving duo that cracks the NYPD’s most impossible cases. Following his fall from grace in London and a stint in rehab, eccentric Sherlock escapes to Manhattan where his wealthy father forces him to live with his worst nightmare – a sober companion, Dr. Watson. A successful surgeon until she lost a patient and her license three years ago, Watson views her current job as another opportunity to help people, as well as paying a penance. However, the restless Sherlock is nothing like her previous clients. He informs her that none of her expertise as an addiction specialist applies to him and he’s devised his own post-rehab regimen – resuming his work as a police consultant in New York City. Watson has no choice but to accompany her irascible new charge on his jobs. But Sherlock finds her medical background helpful, and Watson realizes she has a knack for playing investigator. Sherlock’s police contact, Capt. Tobias “Toby” Gregson (Aidan Quinn), knows from previous experience working with Scotland Yard that Sherlock is brilliant at closing cases, and welcomes him as part of the team. With the mischievous Sherlock Holmes now running free in New York solving crimes, it’s simple deduction that he’s going to need someone to keep him grounded, and it’s elementary that it’s a job for Watson. Rob Doherty, Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly and Michael Cuesta, who directed the pilot, are executive producers for CBS Television Studios.

And a shorter version available at the series's website:

In a modern-day take on Sherlock Holmes, the iconic detective is taking on New York. Just out of rehab, he's been assigned to live with his worst nightmare-sober coach, Dr. Joan Watson. Holmes's unsurpassed skills of deduction and Watson's medical expertise come together to create a dream team for solving the NYPD's most impossible cases.


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