Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Elementary, My Dear...

Last time, I raved about the darker, modern take on Sherlock Holmes, simply called Sherlock, starring the charismatic Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Today I'd like to focus on their American counterpart of sorts, airing prime time on one of America's big networks, called Elementary. Perhaps because it airs on a big network, the show has a less dark air about it, compared to its BBC/PBS counterpart. But I suppose one must also take into account that episodes of Sherlock each season are few (three in fact), leaving more time for script and character development. Whereas the first season of Elementary was comprised of 24 episodes. Quite a difference indeed.

Elementary

Elementary is thoroughly enjoyable, cozier and definitely strays a little more from the original Sherlock Holmes characterizations. The biggest difference of course is that Dr. John Watson is now Dr. Joan Watson, played by Lucy Liu. Watson has given up medicine and become a sober companion, which is how she and Holmes met. I wonder if they will explain how Watson got her last name, since Liu is of Chinese heritage, Watson's tv parents are also Asian, and the name Watson has English and Scottish origins. Back on point, Liu is well-known for her turns on Ally McBeal as well as films like the Charlie's Angels reboots and Chicago. She has other talents besides acting, including painting, collage and photography, and has shown her artwork in the US and abroad.

Lucy Liu

The character of Mrs. Hudson, traditionally Holmes' somewhat elderly landlady, appeared in one episode of Elementary's first season, and it actually took me repeated viewings of that episode to realize that Miss Hudson was supposed to be THE Mrs. Hudson. Elementary's Miss Hudson is a transgender woman, played by Candis Cayne, who is knowledgeable in many diverse subjects and at the end of the episode, agrees to clean and organize Holmes' brownstone once a week. Maybe in season two, she will become more of a regular character.

Candis Cayne

The character of Irene Adler also has a few interesting tweaks, and let's just leave it at that. She is played by British actress Natalie Dormer, who I last saw in Agatha Christie Marple: Why Didn't They Ask Evans, along with Georgia Moffett, Samantha Bond, Richard Briers and Freddie Fox. Alas I haven't watched The Tudors or Game of Thrones, which are also part of Dormer's list of credits. She is also cast in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay as Cressida.

Natalie Dormer

Inspector Lestrade shows up in season two of Elementary, played by Sean Pertwee, a well-known actor in his own right as well as son of third Doctor Who Jon. The police in season one were represented by Americans Aidan Quinn (Desperately Seeking Susan anyone?), playing Captain Thomas Gregson and Jon Michael Hill, as Detective Marcus Bell. This American police presence is to be expected as the show takes place in New York City. Both Quinn and Hill return for season two.

Sean Pertwee

Aidan Quinn

Jon Michael Hill

Last but not least is Sherlock Holmes himself, portrayed by British actor Jonny Lee Miller. Grandson of Bernard Lee, who played M in 11 James Bond films, Miller makes an endearing Holmes, if that were even possible, and his onscreen chemistry with Lucy Liu is comforting to watch. I remember watching Miller as Rose's toy boy in an early episode of Keeping Up Appearances with the brilliant Patricia Routledge. As a child, he also had an uncredited role in the Doctor Who episode Kinda, and more recently, shared the stage with the other current Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch, in London in the play Frankenstein. 

Jonny Lee Miller

While we aren't sure when Series 3 of Sherlock will air in the US, we do know that we can get our Holmes fix via Elementary very soon. The second season of Elementary premieres Thursday September 26th at 10pm Eastern/9pm Central. Let's stock up on our snacks!