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September 29, 2012 2:47 am  #1


"My Elementary Review:"

Sorry, didn't mean to scare you there. It's loading right now from iTunes (a free episode?! iTunes, you shouldn't have!) which I wouldn't have done had it not conveniently offered me the pilot of any new series that I wanted.

As soon as it finishes I'll watch it and tell you lot what I think. Anyone who saw it last night, feel free to chime in, hence the quotation marks.


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Initials SH and proud owner of a viola named Watson.

Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other.

It's a three patch problem.

I didn't know; I saw.
 

September 29, 2012 6:53 pm  #2


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

Elementary. Until Thursday night it was, to those of us who didn't catch the leaked pilot, something of a wild card. Would it be terrible? Would it be alright? Would it be an insult to the name Sherlock Holmes?

Well, the moment has passed and we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that at least the latter is not true. I don't watch cop shows and I never have. People tell me that I should watch NCIS or CSI or those kinds of shows, and I watched a few episodes of The Mentalist a while back, but I find them incredibly formulaic and somewhat boring. Unfortunately, Elementary was no different. I agree with Lyndsay Faye when she says that Joan Watson bears almost no resemblance to the John Watson of canon.

The role of John Watson as a handler was introduced in Sherlock and only amplified in Elementary, something that works between these two sets of actors/characters but actually has no basis in canon. I believe this is because directors and writers hate characters that are doing nothing, and with the introduction of this concept, Sherlock managed to avoid the Nigel Bruce bumbling Watson stereotype but failed to capture the true relationship between the two that we seen in the canon and the Granada series. Elementary only furthers Watson's role as Holmes's babysitter, which creates rapport between the two but makes it drift further from canon.

Holmes's sexuality was another sore spot for me. As far as we know, in canon he is asexual, and in Sherlock he is something like sapiosexual if he feels sexual attraction at all. This works, at least for me, although a real purist would condemn Sherlock for the inaccuracy of the Adler-Holmes relationship. The idea of Sherlock hiring out prostitutes is, I suppose, just another interpretation of how the very gentlemanly Victorian Holmes would change in the modern day, but, (hold your breath, please)  like the way Sherlock does it better.

It did have good points, as SH pointed out. The beekeeping, mania, constant boredom, etc. all worked very well for a characterization of Holmes, and I believe that while Jonny Lee Miller leaves something to be desired, Lucy Liu does an excellent performance with the lines she is given.

It wasn't terrible although it did feel dumbed down (it takes me at least half a dozen times watching Sherlock to catch everything, while I think that another go at this pilot would do it) I don't believe that's the fault of the creators, it's simply the format and the director, because Paul McGuigan is frankly a genius and Eros Lyn is very good as well. They both add in lots of easter egg details.

7.5/10.


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Initials SH and proud owner of a viola named Watson.

Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other.

It's a three patch problem.

I didn't know; I saw.
     Thread Starter
 

September 29, 2012 10:43 pm  #3


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

Nice review,  Smoggy.   As I said elsewhere,  the one thing that bugged me was JLM wearing that scarf.  Otherwise,  this show was NOTHING  like the canon,     and almost NOTHING  like  BBC Sherlock.   Yeah,  they could have called him by another name,  but then that wouldn't get us viewers to watch it,  would it? 

I'd  rate it  7  out  of ten,  but I'm  gonna keep watching to see how it unfolds.   AND  to see if he gets rid of that scarf.   Lucky  he's not wearing a long coat!!  And maybe he'll have trouble with his cell phone,  like I do with mine.  See,  I  could write for this show.


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September 30, 2012 11:07 pm  #4


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

I liked your review, nice! And agree with most of it too.

I actually really wanted to HATE this show, but I can't quite bring myself to do that. 


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October 3, 2012 2:15 pm  #5


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

I hope it's okay to add my two cents here instead of opening another threat about the topic....

Reviews of Elementary are somewhat problematic, because everyone seems to be compelled to compare it to Sherlock, either in order to say that Sherlock is much better or in some kind of "it can stand on it's own" and "give it a chance" defense. So, I gave it a chance, Sherlock is better, let's move on and pretend I had watched Elementary in a world in which Sherlock didn't exist. Would it hold up in this case?

I think the answer is no, at least not for me. In this fictive world a modern Sherlock would be an interesting concept. But is this character CBS created a modern Sherlock? The story is set in New York, the backstory of both characters is totally different, the cases are supposed to be new...I don't think that there is enough Holmes and Watson in this one.

Now let's pretend that the creatures hadn't named the characters Holmes and Watson, but differently. Would the show hold up then? The problem is that it is behind the curve. There tend be certain trends in TV which turn up, are successful for a time until the audience gets tired of it and then they lie low for a decade or so. In the last years we had so many Holmes based characters - House, Monk, Shawn Spencer, Patrick Jane, Bones...the concept is overused by now, what the more than medicore success (if you can call it success when a show nearly gets cancelled after the first season) of "Unforgettable" proves.

I thought that the pilot was dull, there was no chemistry between the characters, and the only time I got a "Sherlock Holmes" vibe was when the bees turned up.

 

October 4, 2012 2:15 am  #6


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

Swanpride wrote:

I hope it's okay to add my two cents here instead of opening another threat about the topic....

Perfectly fine, that's what this thread is for!

As far as your review goes, I agree for the most part, but I believe that as a simple procedural is was actually above the curve. Granted, I don't watch too many procedurals, but I thought that without the Sherlock Holmes connection it might have been alright.

And what a sad fictitious world that is!


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Initials SH and proud owner of a viola named Watson.

Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other.

It's a three patch problem.

I didn't know; I saw.
     Thread Starter
 

October 4, 2012 12:26 pm  #7


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

Well, it's certainly solid produced, no doubt...but (and that's what I meant with "behind the curve") there have been several producals based on the Sherlock concept already, and a lot in the last years. To be successful with yet another one, you would have to offer something new or at least particulary interesting character.
And there is my next problem: By making Sherlock depended on his father (and letting him whining about living in the smallest house) he comes over as even more an overgrown brat as all the other versions of him...House, Patrick Jane and Co can all be very annoying too, but at least they support themselves. And by making Watson a female ex-chirugue who apparently is stuck in a job she hates because of her past incompetence, more or less all my annoyance buttons are pushed. Why couldn't a female Watson be an ex-soldier? I got the impression that she is mostly female because the writers thought that being a compagnion is more a "female" thing, since females are supposed to be born care takers a feeling which only got stronger when they let her (an ex-trauma surgeon!) react badly to the dead body). And you know what, this incredible dull case would have been much more interesting if the victim had be a male with a lot of plastic surgeries, and it had been his wife who had been sneaky enough to kill him this way. But no, they immediatly fell into the usual gender roles, which is not a good sign when at the same time you are trying to pull off a female Watson.
Another problem I had (but that might be because I'm not a native speaker): Most of the actors were incredible difficult to understand, especially Sherlock...is that the natural accent of the actor? Normally posh english is easier to understand for me, not harder. It's really not fun when you have concentrate hard to keep up, that's something I might put up with for a good show, but not for a run-of-the-mill one.

 

October 5, 2012 6:43 pm  #8


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

I will give it  a fair view, when it airs here.


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October 6, 2012 1:40 pm  #9


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

I watched the pilot of "Elementary" last week, and I went to sleep in the middle of it, so I gave it another try on Thursday.  I agree with previous posters in that it isn't canon in any way, shape or form. I kept getting the feeling that I was missing something.  While watching BBC Sherlock, I'd sometimes be amazed that people were so polite with Sherlock; I think some of the things he said, especially to Donovan and Anderson, would have earned him a smack in the face here in the US!  He's pretty eccentric, rude, and snotty; on his good days. Putting Sherlock in NY in "Elementary" is a very interesting angle, to me, and  I think the actors are doing a good job with what they have to work with.    Lots of room for improvement here, once they figure out where they want to go with it.

 

October 7, 2012 12:32 am  #10


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

I read the recap of the new episode. It's good that they added in the violin but as a self-hardened Elementary hater (I'm sorry to say) all I can think was that I'd expected it already, so no points for Elementary.

I really need to get out of this mindset.


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Initials SH and proud owner of a viola named Watson.

Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other.

It's a three patch problem.

I didn't know; I saw.
     Thread Starter
 

October 7, 2012 1:35 am  #11


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

I'm watching the pilot right now. If I didn't know this was a Sherlock Holmes adaptation, the only way I would know would be because of the random cliche Sherlock Holmes stuff like when Johnny Lee Miller says "It's elementary" or talks about bees and stuff like that. The characters don't bug me as much as I thought they would, but I found myself bored with them and feeling like I was watching CSI: Baker Street. It wasn't horrible in my opinion, but nothing special. I think what's special about ACD and Sherlock Holmes is the characters... so while BBC Sherlock seems to be Character then Plot, Elementry goes opposite with Plot then Character. I think this kind of took away from the whole idea of a modern Sherlock Holmes in New York. Also, in comparison, BBC Sherlock is just so much more artistically done than Elementary. I know I shouldn't compare the two but it was hard not to notice the massive difference in this aspect in scenes where Johnny Lee Miller recited lines that were almost word for word identical to lines from BBC Sherlock. So, in conclusion, I don't think Elementary is awful but I don't think it will last.


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October 7, 2012 6:10 am  #12


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

Ok, I have just finished watching the first 2 episodes.

From the first moment I had an inkling as to what was going on with this one. Let's look at this as an updated version of the ACD canon that would be appealing to the 'masses', which is what their intent was. It wasn't their intent to copy BBC Sherlock so we must wipe that one to the side for now.
I hate to inform you all, but they have done exactly what they set out to do.

Society today has this overwhelming urge to analyse everything and everyone. It also has this obsession with 'excess'.
The makers of this show have taken the little character quirks of the canon Holmes and used them to excess in the extreme.
- Canon Holmes had hints of 'a habit'; so Elementary Holmes is a full blown recovering addict.
- Canon Holmes would make a few 'brilliant deductions' during each case; so Elementary Holmes seems to 'run off at the mouth' with deductions almost non-stop.
- Canon Holmes would use odd methods to deduce facts; so Elementary Holmes uses nothing BUT odd methods, some completely unnecessary at times.
- Canon Holmes kept bees later in life, after he retired; so Elementary Holmes skips through time somewhat & lands him with that hobby straight away (why waste time introducing every possible trait, let's get it over & done with)
- Canon Holmes played a violin; so Elementary Holmes makes a spectacle of burning one in some kind of 'tantrum' only to settled down later & simply play it (one MUST have drama before we can settle down to 'normal' mustn't we?)

The list of 'excess' goes on, but you get the gist. In just 2 episodes, they have covered a vast majority of Holmes' traits. At this pace they are going to end up rehashing a lot of stuff quite soon.

What they have failed to do is keep the one element that made ACD's canon truly wonderful and truly believable.
For the most part, all the cases solved were 'elementary'. They were based on normal, everyday events. The clues were ordinary, possibly mundane facts. But once strung together & woven into the riddle, these small observations, produced answers that when we looked back we would say ' well that was so obvious and yet we all missed it'.
They have lost the simplistic beauty of 'the everyday' things being important.

Now, adding BBC Sherlock into the equation, they too have 'updated' things. Yes, some simplistic things have become a little more complicated (as have our lives), but for the most part the creators HAVE tried to keep the premise of 'the simplest' of explanations being the answer. that premise is something that 'old Sherlockians' hold close to their heart. The beauty in the 'simple solution' makes you pause and admire the writings of ACD. How clever of him to take the 'average' , add a few 'normal' twists & turns, produce complete bewilderment and then unravel the 'normal' for all to see and leave us thinking 'that WAS very elementary'.

I think I shall nickname this series " My Ale Entry" because they have lost the meaning of Elementary completely.


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Also, please note that sentences can also end in full stops. The exclamation mark can be overused.
Sherlock Holmes 28 March 13:08

Mycroft’s popularity doesn’t surprise me at all. He is, after all, incredibly beautiful, clever and well-dressed. And beautiful. Did I mention that?
--Mark Gatiss

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert McCloskey
 

October 7, 2012 7:23 am  #13


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

And the relationship?  The friendship is the most important part of the stories, for me.
But anyway, Benedict is still very positive about it.


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October 7, 2012 11:26 am  #14


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

Well, that's friendship for you.


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October 7, 2012 11:32 am  #15


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

I meant, does it work with Jonny and Lucy?


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October 7, 2012 11:40 am  #16


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

I know. I was just referring to Benedict being supportive to his mate.


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October 7, 2012 11:41 am  #17


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

Sorry, I realised that and should have said so, funny you should mention that...


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October 7, 2012 11:24 pm  #18


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

Thanks for the in-depth review, Kazza. Props.

Continuing with the focus on canon, I read one review that talks about how Elementary obeys the "spirit of the books" much better than Sherlock does. In my opinion, this is completely and utter delusion. I read every story and every novel, and in my opinion the "spirit" of the books is something mostly along the lines of:

Watson, old buddy, some poor bloke has gotten himself framed/robbed/killed/involved in some other unfortunate mishap and has requested my help. I've been really, really, really bored lately and have decided to take the case instead of sinking back into my cocaine/morphine-induced stupor (did I mention I've been really bored lately?). Since you happen to have come back to Baker Street at precisely the right time would you do me the honor of coming along and writing another one of your romanticized case files for me/do some other favor that might or might not (read: probably) jeopardize your life and contribute to the case?

Elementary follows this formula to the letter.
...not. But there might just be another show out there that does.


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Initials SH and proud owner of a viola named Watson.

Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other.

It's a three patch problem.

I didn't know; I saw.
     Thread Starter
 

October 8, 2012 8:27 am  #19


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

The spirit of the book is fairly boring...basically Sherlock and Watson are sitting around in Baker Street, some sort of client turns up and tells a story in the most complicated manner possible, and the rest is about Sherlock deducing and Watson being in awe of his abilities. There are only a few stories in which Watson's abilities with a gun actually come in handy or there is actually a sense a of danger. Considering that I though Elementary was very boring to, the assessment might not be that much off the mark...
But seriously, I still fail to see how the characters of Elementary are connected to the characters of Sherlock. If not for the names, I would think that this series is trying to cash in on the success of Monk by doing a more serious version of it rather than Sherlock.  Ironically the one thing I liked it the one thing many people commented negatively on, and that the bees - simply because it's not just a Sherlock thing but also a New York thing. What was the point of setting this in New York? They basically use the city, this could be set more or less everywhere. Even White Collar, with a less lower production value, manages to use New York like an additional charcter in the show.

 

October 8, 2012 11:06 am  #20


Re: "My Elementary Review:"

Swanpride wrote:

The spirit of the book is fairly boring...basically Sherlock and Watson are sitting around in Baker Street, some sort of client turns up and tells a story in the most complicated manner possible, and the rest is about Sherlock deducing and Watson being in awe of his abilities. There are only a few stories in which Watson's abilities with a gun actually come in handy or there is actually a sense a of danger. Considering that I though Elementary was very boring to, the assessment might not be that much off the mark...

Well I guess if you are looking for action & adventure, the canon is not for you. What a horrifying description of these wonderful tales!
This is the problem today, with so much emphasis on action, blood & guts, shooting etc people want that in every detective story. But that is NOT what a detective story is about. And certainly NOT what ACD's canon is about.
The stories are more about the mental processes used to unravel mysteries, not all of which were murders or violence in any way. Becoming 'involved' in the canon is more a cerebral activity than one seeking adventure.
And that activity these days can be seen as you have described, as boring. Yet diehard ACD fans will tell you that is far from the truth.
It's an acquired taste and not one that can be achieved from one quick perusal of the works. I guess that is the downfall; there is no instant way to canon appreciation in this case.


____________________________________________________________________________________________
Also, please note that sentences can also end in full stops. The exclamation mark can be overused.
Sherlock Holmes 28 March 13:08

Mycroft’s popularity doesn’t surprise me at all. He is, after all, incredibly beautiful, clever and well-dressed. And beautiful. Did I mention that?
--Mark Gatiss

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert McCloskey
 

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