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Sunday, 23 of July of 2017

Tag » Elementary

Elementary – “M.”

“I am not an average man.”

Based on last week’s preview, I expected “M.” to deal directly with the infamous Moriarty. And, based on the preview, I expected the character to be played by Vinnie Jones.

Wrong again.

Well, technically I wasn’t wrong, per se, more like 50/50. I just didn’t see all the steps that led to my conclusion finally being correct. I pulled a Sherlock and deduced based off what I knew instead of all the evidence there was and came to an erroneous, but not useless, conclusion.

I had assumed – as I’m sure others did – that the M of the episode title was Moriarty. Instead, M was a stepping stone to Moriarty.

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Elementary – “The Leviathan” and “Dirty Laundry”

I apologize for not reviewing “The Leviathan” the week it aired. Given the events of that Friday (the day I usually post my reviews), it is perhaps understandable that I was in no mood to write much of anything.

In any case, it somewhat works in my favor to have postponed my review until this week. There are elements in both episodes that complement one another, and are interesting to discuss in context. For simplicity’s sake, I am going to group my review into specific points I would like to discuss. I had begun a rather wordy discussion about obsessive personalities, addiction, and where both are leading Sherlock, but it was a bit poncy, frankly. Nobody’s here for a psychological profile, right?

So here we are. Class, today I’d like to discuss the following topics: 1. The effectiveness of Sherlock’s cases, 2. Sherlock’s obsessive personality, 3. Sherlock meeting Watson’s family, 4. Sherlock’s relationship with Watson, 5. Watson’s future with Sherlock, and 6. M.

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Elementary – “You Do It Yourself”

For all intents and purposes, Elementary is a weekly procedural. But it’s a procedural the way Castle is a procedural (man, I could write a book on Castle). The procedural elements are really only there to frame out the personal ones. And while Elementary doesn’t as closely weave the two elements together as Castle does, they are very similar in the way they delegate time to each.

There is no direct parallel between this week’s crime and the personal development of the characters that occurs during its investigation. There is no central thread that runs through the two storylines, drawing them together as two sides of the same coin. Instead, the connection between the two elements comes down to something as simple and powerful as a cup of tea.

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Elementary – “The Long Fuse”

Did you guys miss Elementary as much as I did? Breaks are hard. Even if they are only the skip of a holiday week. It’s so great to feel this way about a show. Missing it, getting cravings for it – so much better than forgetting it’s even on.

I really enjoyed the convoluted nature of the case this week. Not so much that the “why” of the crime was all that convoluted (though it did make some nice loop-de-loops), but more so the winding path the set-up took to actually becoming a crime.

Plus, we got Cuddy!

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Elementary – “One Way to Get Off”

It’s always fun watching a show find its feet.

Elementary came out of the gate very self-assured for a new show, very certain of its tone and style and direction. It has also been very certain of its characters – who they are, where they’ve been, and where they are going. While Sherlock and Watson are clearly the focus of the show, its nice to see some time being spent developing – or, perhaps more accurately, displaying – the show’s other characters.

While we’ve had a bit of Gregson so far, it’s always been in relation to other characters. Most of his personality has been shown through his interactions with Sherlock and Watson. “One Way to Get Off” gives us a bit of Gregson-for-Gregson’s-sake. I do hope this is a sign of things to come.

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Elementary – “Flight Risk”

We love a good mystery.

People, as a general rule, love mysteries, in whatever form they take. Simple ones or complex ones, it makes no difference. We love piecing together clues, working our way through evidence, figuring out whodunnit – especially if we can figure it out before our friends. It’s why we love Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew. And it is very much so a major part of why we love Sherlock Holmes.

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Elementary – “Lesser Evils”

“Like a wise man once said: First instincts; usually right.”

Just as there are many different ways to tell a story, there are many different ways to develop characters. You can begin at a life-changing moment, or right after it. You can start with the end result – be it the final stretch of life or the place a character ends up after their long journey of development – or you can make that your final destination and make how the character got there the focus.

The truth is, unless we start at the very, very beginning, we are always coming into a character in medias res. There are always parts of the character’s past that we don’t know, parts that have inescapably shaped them and influence every decision they make.

One of the concerns – with stories and characters – is giving away too much too soon. Wanting to know more, wanting to watch the yarn spin out, is what keeps the audience coming back. It’s all about giving just enough in just the right way to hold the audience’s interest.

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Elementary – “Rat Race”

“It has its costs.”

The character of Sherlock Holmes has as many different interpretations as he has iterations. From brilliant antisocial snob to brilliant borderline sociopath, Sherlock can be – and has been – many things. What makes new versions of the character possible is this elasticity of traits. What makes new versions of this character worthwhile is which combination of traits its current owners go for. How do you make it fresh, how do you keep it interesting?

So far, Elementary is making a damn good go at crafting a distinct and intriguing new Sherlock both in tone and texture.

With every episode, we learn a little bit more about how this Sherlock ticks, a little bit more about what’s underneath the surface. It must be said that the fact that this Sherlock willingly reveals things about himself – not as a trick, not after being backed into a corner, but in an honest desire to give truth to another person – reveals as much about, and shapes, this character as what he actually says.

I enjoyed the case this week, but even more than the whodunnit, I enjoyed how the situation affected Sherlock and, by extension, Watson.

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Elementary – “Child Predator”

I did not realize how much I’d missed having an episode of Elementary last week (damn you, election!) until this week’s rolled around. I – I kind of love this show, you guys. Who saw that one coming?

We’re only a few episodes in, but certain patterns are already visible in the structure of the show. Every television show – sitcom, drama, what have you – has a standard pattern for the stories it tells and how it tells them. This helps the audiences keep up with what’s going on, and can be either a benefit or a burden. When used correctly, structure can allow for variances that have a strong impact on the storytelling. When used incorrectly, structure can be a drudge, an anchor that holds the show back and bores audiences with a “I know what’s coming” predictability.

Given the core of the premise (brilliant detective solves unsolvable crimes) and its established structure (basic procedural), Elementary could very easily fall into the latter category.

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Elementary – “While You Were Sleeping”

“I felt like Jimi Hendrix there for a moment.”

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to eat your words.

I’m big enough to admit when I’m wrong – or at least when my instincts are – and I was wrong about Elementary. I was concerned that it would be a cheap rip-off of the popular Sherlock. I was concerned it would be a poor retread of well-trod ground. I was concerned that it would be lifeless and boring and a joke. In short: I thought it would suck.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to say with full sincerity and humblest nature: I was wrong.

While there are similarities between Elementary and other Sherlock-inspired enterprises (as is to be expected given they share source material), the show is doing a great job of differentiate itself from the pack. It has a clear idea of who its main characters are individually and together, and who it wants them to be in the future. And while the cases haven’t been revolutionary so far, they have been interesting and (even though we’re only two weeks in), the “quality” of the case has increased from the pilot to this episode.

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