“Elementary”: About One Sherlock Holmes & Joan Watson

Liu and Miller

In the rarest of cases, I get very attached to TV shows. If I really like a show, I find it terribly frustrating to wait for a whole week to see what happens next. To prevent that stressor from affecting me in day-to-day life, I usually ignore the hype (or lack thereof…) and file away the interesting story until it ends, at which time I take a long weekend to watch the it from the first moment to the very end. However, one in maybe a three year period, some pilot or random viewing at a friend’s house midseason makes me go “Whoa.” And I will find a story I can tolerate waiting to see each week. “Elementary” is one of these shows that makes me sensitive, wanting to know more. Performances by Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are the perfect balance of clever and relateable, humorous and serious, and satisfyingly mysterious, remaining a worthy curiosity from one show to the next. I’m glad to say that I’m hooked to this new show!
My introduction to the newest version of the Sherlock Holmes lineage was a screening I attended a few weeks ago. I went to a see episode 5 of “Elementary” at The New School, which had been organized by the SAG Foundation (thank you, wonderful SAG Foundation! You guys rock). The screening opened my eyes to a clever, funny, intricate, lovable story about a man named Sherlock and the super clever, more serious, respectable ex-surgeon Joan Watson, whom he resentfully refers to as his “housekeeper”, “attendant”, “companion” etc. in public. In reality, and in case you haven’t yet seen the show, Watson is Holmes’s paid sober companion, send by his father to assist him in day-to-day life after rehab.
The opening plops viewers right into the scene, where Holmes knows he’s going to have this woman around, watching his odd behavior constantly, that she was paid for it by his neglectful father, and that he must somehow include her in his daily life…but how? He has a constant urge to solve problems, specifically crimes. He let’s us in on his secret (via Watson) in the very first episode: he observes, and then he really uses the information he gathers. Perhaps the most fascinating piece of irony about the series is that we have a two intelligent, motivated, strong, attractive people who are totally unlikely companions, together because they both messed up in ways that made their world’s as they knew them crumble. Holmes fell into a serious drug habit and Watson, well…she accidentally let a patient die on her operating table. They were both forced to stop what they loved doing, in different ways, and their relationship is about redemption as well as the ever-entertaining crime-solving they commit to in each episode.
Among the many issues that Liu addressed following the screening, she did talk about her chemistry with Miller as an asset the show’s creators noticed early on and saw as a serious plus. While she hesitated to say that there would be a romantic relationship between Holmes and Watson, I’m sure a fair number of viewers have their fingers crossed on show night, hoping that the legend somehow takes a modern romantic twist. However, I am with Liu on this. Why should Watson and Holmes become romantically involved simply because she’s a Joan and not a James? That would actually be a disappointment. Holmes has a city full of women to love, and Watson doesn’t need to be one of them. I have a good feeling that the writers are thinking what I’m thinking, and according to Liu, she has a voice about the plot, so I’m sure they will keep us guessing this season. I can’t wait (or actually, in this case, I can wait a few more days) to see what unfolds in episode 10!

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