Sometimes I find myself at a dinner party talking about Sherlock Holmes related topics, because yeah, I’m a BSB, of course I’m talking about Holmes at dinner parties. Anyway, after all topics related to Benedict Cumberbatch and the BBC are exhausted, I try to kindly stir people towards CBS’s Elementary. I often find myself saying people should give the show a shot and not discredit it before seeing it. Sometimes I’ll even say, GASP, there are elements of Elementary I like better than Sherlock. Joan Watson is a delight. Canonical references are aplenty. There’s even an update on Sherlock’s drug use, which is handled with tact and dignity.
See, just when I was getting comfortable, a crazy episode like One Percent Solution comes along and I find myself wondering if I’m even watching the same show week to week.
Don’t you hate it when crime procedurals hire way too famous an actor for a part, thus, giving away the killer far too early in the episode and deflating any sense of drama from the story? Yeah, me too. It’s been said before, but this week it was easy to see that CBS often falls into the trap of making CSI: Baker Street when it doesn’t know what else to do.
When a brutally murdered ballerina is found during a dress rehearsal, a dance company is completely uprooted. The prima ballerina, Iris Lanzer, becomes a suspect early on, because it turns out she replaced the now murdered girl as the lead late in the production. It would seem that competition would be the cause for murder, but this is where CBS does itself a disservice. By casting Scott Cohen as Iris’s lawyer, it’s easy to pick him out as being too famous and too prominent to take a small bit part. Of course, it could be a fake out, but in this case it all comes down to a really thin motive that doesn’t necessarily ring true. It does, however, give Sherlock a chance to geek out about the ballet, which was both surprising and delightful because it harkens back to the 1970s Billy Wilder film, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. The comical film infamously pairs Holmes with a Russian ballerina who proposes that they have a baby. Her hope is that his intellect and her beauty will produce the perfect child. As you can imagine, the two never pair up in the 1970s film, but that didn’t stop CBS from giving Holmes another ballerina flirtation.
I don’t want to be so bold as to suggest that dinosaurs are a sure fire way to get wavering fans back into a show, BUT, dinosaurs sure did keep me interested in Elementary this week.
Joan has been revisiting some of Sherlock’s “unsolved” cases and comes across an unusual homicide where a man’s home is ransacked and he’s murdered in the back yard, but no weapon, motive or murderer ever emerges. In the case photos, Joan zeros in on an unusual stone, which a geologist named Gay helpfully points out is pre-historic. At the time of the initial investigation, Sherlock was struggling with his addiction and was unable to zero in on any helpful details which may have solved the case. With Joan’s new discovery and a few scans of this rare rock, a dinosaur fossil is uncovered and Sherlock’s passion for the case is piqued. When the thief (a man who goes by Magpie) who got his hands on the fossil turns up dead too, well as Doyle would say, The Game is On.
Let’s solve a mystery this week, friends. Why bring Moriarty back and then just pretend like she never showed up at all? After her return last week, I was hopeful the season would be headed in a new direction that acknowledged both the difficult dynamic of loving someone who is definably evil and the changed relationship between Holmes and everyone around him because he is clearly capable of this deep love. And yet, this week, it’s like it never happened. I get that she might be back in future weeks, but because we know it’s not the end, this week feels like filler.
Moriarty’s return wasn’t the only huge missed opportunity. Holmes and Watson are having a hard time developing working relationships with the other members of the NYPD. It turns out Detective Bell is missed in more ways than one now that he has taken on a new role in a counter-terrorism unit. It gives the show a reason to bring him back, but not on a counter-terrorism case, which is a bummer. I was hoping for hacking and patterns and data – a real chance to show another side of Holmes’s incredible mind. Despite this, it was great to see Bell again, especially out in the field and working alongside others. Holmes latches onto a bit of hope that he can get involved in this new mafia case Bell is investigating and maybe repair the relationship between the two for a bit. If things go really well, perhaps he and Bell can even work together again in the long-term.
While the world patiently waited for Sherlock to return, Elementary served as a worthy distraction these last 24 months. There were plenty of reasons to believe this American-dwelling Holmes would never be a worthy comparison to our BBC baby, but over time, I’ve become increasingly attached to Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu’s take on the iconic characters. As the third series of Sherlock returned, I wondered if it would taint my feelings about CBS’s efforts. In truth, with new episodes of each series airing, it’s never been more evident that these two shows are distinctly their own.
In The Diabolical Kind, it’s clear that Moriarty is back in more than one way. Sherlock is writing her letters, which are brooding and full of longing. These correspondences are dangerous, but it’s a source of comfort for Holmes. But that’s not the only way she’s returning. After a man is murdered by a trained assassin and his daughter is kidnapped, Sherlock deduces Moriarty is involved. It becomes clear she is no longer imprisoned in a traditional sense, so Holmes and Watson track her down in an abandoned warehouse where the FBI has been holding her. That seemed a little to easy, though, didn’t it?
Did the Elementary writers hear my calls? Did they see into my dreams? Did they read my tweets? Whatever the reason, I’m so glad to report that Sherlock Holmes’s sponsor, friend and fellow expert lock picker is back. Holmes is still reeling from recent incidents with Detective Bell and a visit to his sponsor’s garage is in order. Talking things out while trying to break into a car? This is therapy, Sherlock Holmes style.
The case this week leaves a lot to be desired. I could have done without it entirely, that’s how lame it is. But here’s a summary: a man pulls a Bernie Madoff like scheme, tries to kill himself, but is beat to it when someone breaks in and murders him before he can do the job.