Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Study in Elementary, by Jon Cain

           I approach this article like I do a known adversary.  Should I dispatch thee with haste? Or shall I banter a bit with it. Taunting it to no end of rage like a cat would a door mouse. Explaining its verbiage sentence structure and very essence of its meaning to the masses.  I feel that latter of the two would be the best possible fate for this article. For if it is dispatched with haste surely upon deaf ears and blind eyes it would fall. Nay I shall not let this happen to this publication of such potential prowess. The masses must know about thee,  A Study in Elementary. 

            Okay my homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle now firmly behind me. I as many of you know have been helping my wife recovery from surgery. On one of the days were nothing was on TV, and we came across the show “Elementary” staring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.  I was quite surprised when I realized this was a modern take on my favorite detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes. In the beginning I approached this show with a bit of trepidation. I am a very big Sherlock fan and tend to stay away from things that are not Doyle cannon. I mean, in my humble opinion, Holmes is a character that is often intimated and very rarely duplicated. I am hard pressed to find a better detective in literature anywhere. He seems so simple yet so complex, and you as a reader want inside his mind – however, when we get a glimpse of it, we turn away. He is brash and cold even to his closest ally. He cares for nothing other then solving the puzzle. He pushes the envelope with addiction and madness -sometimes crossing the proverbial line. You have no idea the steps the villain or criminal will do to stop him, but you are equally unsure of the lines Holmes is willing to cross to do the same. To say that that the stories are masterpieces is an understatement. They are in my opinion the greatest literary work off all time.
            Elementary starts with Watson played by Lucy Liu. This former surgeon turned sober companion was hired by Holmes’s father, to help him post-rehab. Now to clarify when A Study In Scarlet, the novel that introduced Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson, was introduced, use of drugs like morphing and cocaine was common place. This was due to the believed medicinal properties of the drugs. It wasn't until later the concept of addiction was formed. So to deal with this the show paired a now clean Sherlock Holmes with a sober companion in Watson. They explain this by saying Holmes's father will let him stay in the Brownstone only if he stays clean. Well in the original Doyle story the pair were brought together as stranger roommates introduced through a mutual acquaintance. They agree to go halves on lodgings due to neither one being able to afford it on there own. Much to my dismay in Elementary the Brownstone's street address is not 221b Bakers St.  

            There’s the similarities in the introductions of the original stories and Elementary. New let’s talk about the differences. In the novels you find Watson is a solder in British Army. He joined the British forces in India and saw action in The Second Anglo Afghan War. He was wounded in the Battle of Maiwand taking a bullet in the shoulder.  He came down with Typhoid fever and was sent back to London. He was a bit frail and bit week. However the way he was written you knew that in no time he would be back up to par. He seemed genuinely interested in Holmes work from the beginning. There was very little questioning of Holmes's knowledge but more a respect of it. 

            In the show I must admit Watson is kind of bland compared to the book. She is a former surgeon who left medicine. She becomes a sober companion for what seems to be like a type of penitence, even though she claims it is her unaffected choice. She constantly questions Holmes in both sobriety and knowledge. She shows very little interest in being a detective, although she eventually comes around to the idea. To her credit, she is the reason from quite a few of Sherlock's eureka moments. Even though the show Watson doesn’t stick to her novel counterpart she is still enjoyable and I look foreword of things to come from Dr. Joan Watson.

            Now lets talk about Sherlock Holmes. To describe this man is like trying to nail Jello to a wall. Doyle wrote the worlds greatest detective to also to be one of literature’s greatest enigmas. Minus his physical appearances, and a few other things, the man and his wealth of knowledge and or mind set is up for interpretation. He walks the razors edge between sanity and insanity. His calm nature could be ever so quickly dwarfed by his almost manic outbursts. The man will be a social butterfly and then go days without speaking. His tall slender body deceptively hides his strength. He has been referred to as quite the pugilist. His mind is a steel trap built only for knowledge that he feels will aide him as the worlds greatest detective.

            How does Miller stack up as Holmes? Well much to my surprise, very well. When I see him I have no trouble believing he is a modern imagining of the classic character. His tones, body language, and facial expression scream Sherlock Holmes. His performance is done so well you are wiling to suspend disbelief. He has the grizzled look of a former addict. His face speaks of the hardship and pain of the underside of life. He physically looks powerful and you have no doubt that he can defend himself quite well. Miller being from England doesn’t really have to stretch to pull a British accent. To me the idea that the same guy from Hackers could be Holmes was funny to me at first. To say I was pleasantly surprised was a huge understatement. When he referrers to himself as Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective with the NYPD, I have no trouble believing it. This is the best Sherlock Holmes I have scene in a number of years. This is the first time I have seen a great one that is an American attempt. The way the pair him with Watson is even a treat to watch. You really feel like you are a fly on the wall watching the best detective duo ever.   Never have I being a Sherlock Holmes fan been more convinced that this work of fiction had been brought to life.  

            Well there you folks have it. The show Elementary is worth a watch. You will enjoy it even if you’re not a Holmes fan. Or even if you’re a die hard fan such as me. The characters are hashed out well and feel fresh and rejuvenated. However they also feel like old friends with whom you whiled away the hour.. People who read the books will see elements strung through out the show. Those who have not it encourages to read the books and find the hidden meanings. No matter how you stack it is an amazing program and I hope it is around form many years to come. Television needs many more quality shows like this. If your thinking about checking it out you should. Season two begins September 26, on CBS, 10/9c.           

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