I think Elementary might be my new favorite show of the season.
Normally, I’m pretty skeptical after watching pilots. The only one that’s ever made me completely fall in love was LOST, and we all know how that turned out. But despite the fact that I’m not usually a procedural fan, I really enjoyed Elementary. In fact, I wish I hadn’t watched it early, because I really want the next episode right now. A month is too far away.
The show’s premise is simple: Sherlock Holmes in New York. Holmes is just getting out of rehab, and his father has given him an ultimatum: either stay clean and put up with a sober companion, Joan Watson, or be kicked out on the street. But Holmes has already created his own post-rehab program — he’s going to resume his detective consultant work for the NYPD. If Watson wants to tag along, that’s fine with him.
In an interview, Lucy Liu commented on how great it is to play a character who is Asian, but whose Asianness is not the focus. Joan Watson is not an “Asian character,” full of stereotypes and comments on that fact. She is a character who happens to be Asian. Similarly, this adaptation has turned John Watson into Joan Watson, but Joan isn’t a “female character,” in the sense that they’ve decided to emphasize her femininity and how being a woman makes this Watson different and new. She’s a character who happens to be female.
The dynamic between Holmes and Watson is excellent, and definitely the thing that made me fall in love. She challenges him and won’t put up with any of his nonsense. In return, he not only comes to admire her but also to respect her. He can be a jerk at times (he “just can’t help himself”), but, as we learn, part of it is an act to drive people away, and the other part is acknowledged as jerkiness and not brushed aside. He’s an intelligent male character who actually apologizes for hurting other people’s feelings. His rudeness is a flaw, not a strength. And, as we see in the pilot, both Holmes and Watson are necessary to solve their cases. They are both intelligent and observent, and they complement each other in the field.
Also, I’ll admit, I just find Joan Watson’s character all-around awesome. She’s passionate, dignified, no-nonsense, compassionate, clever, dedicated and fun. And she feels like a real person, flaws and all. Bravo, CBS. They took a truly modern stance on Sherlock Holmes (women and racial minorities exist!), and then they didn’t turn it into a gimmick. They made it feel real.
I can’t wait to see more.