I am still watching Elementary–it might actually be my favorite new show of this TV season. Well, it’s not as good as Ben and Kate, so it’s my favorite new DRAMA of the fall 2012 season (isn’t The Mindy Project a sad disappointment, I’m still watching it but it is not good, it sometimes makes me cringe).
When I first wrote about Elementary I compared it to Sherlock which every other critic did but since the initial episode I have come to really like Elementary and especially Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock (I still love you Cumberbatch but I have always loved Miller; I even watched every season of Eli Stone). Since Elementary is still new and we’re only about 7 or 8 episodes into its first season, there are a few changes I would make for it to become a really good procedural.
Character Development: I would really like them to flesh out the cast. All of the best procedurals have excellent supporting characters that add not only to the drama but usually humor to the grim proceedings. There are four characters on Elementary: Sherlock, Lucy Liu’s Watson, Aidan Quinn’s Captain Gregson and Jon Michael Hill’s Detective Bell. However, Sherlock is the only character that has received a significant back-story which initially makes sense as he is the main character but since we are in the middle of the season I really wish I knew more about Watson, Gregson, and Bell. It’s very hard to invest in characters solely based on the likability of the actors that play them, like Liu and Quinn. We have learned a little bit about Liu’s Watson, a smidge about Quinn’s Gregson and nothing about Hill’s Bell. The writers are also bringing in characters such as Irene Adler into the mix but I wish they would have established the ones we see week instead of bringing in Adler who appears to be dead and she would only be a guest star anyway.
Give Lucy Liu more to do: Lucy Liu is a terrific actress she can be both funny and dramatic. Why waste her by sending her around digging into Sherlock’s past. I understand that as a “sober companion” (is this even a real thing?) she would want to know about Sherlock’s decent into drug addiction and his recovery but couldn’t she find that out through the rehab facility? OR wouldn’t it be more dramatic if we doled this out throughout the season with Watson learning about Sherlock and Sherlock learning about Watson. I would also like more of Liu getting involved in cases; this is my favorite part of the show, Watson starting to get excited about solving crime. In the end that is what this show will be about, these two people helping the police solve crime NOT Watson helping Sherlock stay off drugs.
Don’t waste Aidan Quinn: I feel bad for Aidan Quinn he is a great actor but he can’t ever find a good TV show now he has one and they are kind of wasting him. I had hoped that this was changing when he confided in Sherlock that he knew about his stint in rehab but trusted his expertise anyway and then we went back to the beginning with Sherlock ACTUALLY thinking Gregson could have planted evidence as if there heart to heart had never happened. I get that Gregson has faith in Sherlock but I wish Sherlock would include him more in solving cases and that he would become more of a friend to Watson. I just don’t want Elementary to waste Aidan Quinn.
More characters: Four characters CBS, really? I know you guys know better when it comes to making a procedural. Most GOOD procedurals run like workplace comedies as such they need characters. Where is the Medical Examiner? Why is Bell the only detective shouldn’t he have an actual detective partner NOT the Captain? Bring back Sherlock’s actor friend in a recurring capacity–he was funny. And when you bring these people in make them quirky and somewhat well rounded. The exact opposite of Bell who isn’t even incredulous of Sherlock anymore, I want more eye-rolls Bell, Sherlock is an asshole.
Less obvious cases of the week: Okay this is sad, but Beauty and the Beast does a much better job of the case of the week and they have a far more complicated back story than Elementary. Stop casting obvious people as your killer and stop making the cases so obvious. Week after week, I can guess the case a mile away because it’s either obvious or you cast somebody I know and then give them very little to do so that it’s again obvious that they are the killer. I will give you credit the last new episode before the holiday was interesting and NOT obvious.
Elementary is likable and it is improving. I hope that the writers are planning on doing more character development and focus on what the show is which is a procedural and not a character study of one man. No matter how likable Jonny Lee Miller is, if he is the only person who is fleshed out it will get boring fast.
Photos from CBS