When Elementary was announced late last year or thereabouts, I cringed. "But Moffat and the BBC have a hold on modern-day Holmes," I thought. "How can an American network primarily known for procedural cop shows do Sherlock justice, especially in an American setting? And John Watson is going to be Joan?!" Regardless, I vowed to give it a chance. Now I have.
The look and feel of the pilot is reminiscent of CSI: New York, minus the in-the-lab examinations and police station interrogations. Exterior scenes are fairly tinged with blue and black with interior scenes are brown-tinged. The camerawork during some scenes is handheld and fairly fluid, but on the shaky side sometimes. It's all familiar and doesn't do much to try and stand out from the procedural pack, in a sense.
Johnny Lee Miller brings a different attitude to Holmes. He's just out of rehab, which could provide future drama through temptation, and is also appears to be into S&M, relying on sex for the hormones and energy, but he's disgusted by the fluids and noises. Joan Watson (Lucy Lui), a disgraced surgeon, is hired by Holmes's father as a personal assistant to prevent Holmes from backsliding. Being haunted by malpractice instead of PTSD is definitely a different spin, but it's just not the same and doesn't seem to have as much of an emotional or psychological impact on the character.
Compared to Moffat's version, this is clearly Americanized in the writing and the camerawork. There is no getting into Sherlock's head. There's no Lestrade or Ms. Hudson. 221B Baker Street? Nope. Watson doesn't appear to keep track of cases. But this all could change.
As for what the show has to promise, I don't know. Will Moriarty or Irene pop up? Will any Holmes stories be translated for American consumption? Both are good questions and could be answered in the near future, but nothing is hinted at in the pilot.
Also Liked: I heard a short excerpt or two from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's score for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, along with Elvis Costello's "Watching The Detectives". While I did enjoy the excerpts and the song, the excerpts didn't quite fit because of, in my mind, how recognizable they were.
Judgment: Overall, a decent pilot with a good concept. Give it a few episodes past the pilot to properly judge, but I'm not holding out for much. It could go on for a few seasons to fill the CSI void, if the ratings hold up.
Elementary premieres on CBS on September 27th at 10 PM Eastern.