On 18th February at 9pm on Sky Living the second half of Elementary’s Season Two begins. CSI with a twist, Elementary is the intriguing perspective of Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) in modern day New York as a recovering heroin addict, with Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) as his ‘sober-companion’ turned investigative sidekick.
So far, Elementary has struggled to balance the quirks of the 19th Century detective with modern police culture and technologies. Towards the end of Season One, common police protocols such as checking the victim’s ID were ignored, so that Sherlock could rock up to the scene and save the day. Not only unrealistic and insulting to the NYPD, this counter-intuitively downplayed Sherlock’s brilliance, as he uncovered the most basic of clues rather than observing the obscure and fantastical. In the first half of Season 2, the show veered in the opposite direction. Sherlock’s abilities were somewhat dulled to give Joan and the NYPD a chance to shine on their own. Although the effort is appreciated, it caused Elementary to lose its unique appeal and potentially become indistinguishable from the many, many, MANY, other crime dramas currently airing.
However, it appears that things are looking up. ‘Tremors’ addresses the show’s more unrealistic penchants such as Sherlock and Watson’s continued flouting of the law (thereby jeopardising the cases), with no repercussions. Moving away from the traditional crime procedure formula, ‘Tremors’ thrusts Sherlock into a court-room, forcing him to face his arrogant disdain for rules when his phone nabbing lands Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) in hospital. The episode explores the show’s own faults with good doses of its special brand of humour, such as Sherlock’s ludicrous explanations for his and Watson’s continued breaking-and-entering offences and his back-sass to the presiding judge. The humour’s effect is two-fold, both relieving the seriousness of the predicament and underpinning it, as we come to realise that Sherlock’s jokes and dismissive attitude are defence mechanisms, bolstering his own ego in order to protect it from the guilt that Bell’s injury is his fault.
‘Tremors’ is a great milestone episode in Sherlock’s development as a character. Unlike his counterparts in Sherlock (Cumberbatch) and Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.), Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock is much more human, we discover that he does care deeply for and respect his friends on the force. Similarly, the touching interaction with the prosecutor who he deduces to be a fellow addict, reminds us that he is not as cold and scientific at heart as he appears.
However, some of Sherlock’s newfound humanity towards Bell this episode appears a little forced, perhaps in an attempt to rectify the show’s previous disdain for the police. Previously, Bell has functioned as little more than a badge for Sherlock to contradict, yet Bell is given the unusual opportunity to happen upon a letter than identifies the victim — a contribution that feels overmilked throughout the rest of the episode, considering that he does not feature in any more of Joan and Sherlock’s investigative jaunts.
Although, Elementary will never quite reach Moffat’s standards in the Sherlock genre and despite its growing pains it is certainly an enjoyable watch. For those who like crime dramas, Elementary’s cases are always full of different and fascinating twists and turns.
Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are excellent in their roles, Miller brings a dry humour and disturbing sex appeal to the role, whilst Liu’s Watson manages to be an interesting character in her own right — a strong independent woman that regularly whips Sherlocks into shape rather than being just another colourless sidekick to a TV detective.
Elementary airs Tuesdays 9pm on Sky Living