Basic plot: Sherlock Holmes, but in New York. Oh, and John Watson is a woman.
Last night was the series premiere of Elementary on CBS. I've always been a pretty big fan of Sherlock Holmes, I enjoy mystery/investigative type shows, and there seemed to be a good cast, so I was kind of excited (well, at the very least, curious) about the premiere. But with having the recent Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies, and the amazing BBC series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch, does there really need to be another version of Holmes out right now? The short answer is, no.
Overall, it wasn't a bad show. I enjoyed Johnny Lee Miller's portrayal of Holmes (although, at times he did seem a bit robotic or "British stiff-upper-lip-ish" with his movements), and Lucy Liu's portrayal of Watson was relate-able to the audience. But I think that I would have liked the show a lot better if it had been inspired by Holmes, rather than being a new adaptation of it. Sure, there are plenty of other investigative dramadies (Psych, Monk, House, Castle, etc.) that are clearly inspired by Holmes, but they aren't supposed to be him. So there can be little nods of the hat to the Holmes, without actually directly comparing them to him.
But with Elementary, it actually is Holmes. So I couldn't help but make comparisons. The most notable of comparisons being that John Watson is now a woman. Again, Lucy Liu did a good job. But I think that they were trying to play on the gender role stereotype of women being more "soft and caring" to balance out Holmes. Sure, Watson is supposed to be a bit more relate-able than Holmes. But he's also supposed to be a war veteran that can not only put up with Holmes, but challenge him at times. The other big problem that I have with Watson being a woman is the fear that they are eventually going to introduce sexual tension between them. I have heard that they (whoever "they" might be) have guaranteed that there would be no sexual tension between Holmes and Watson. But who actually believes that? When was the last time that there were a male and female lead where there wasn't eventually sexual tension? Heck...even Will and Grace had said tension at times. So if Holmes and Watson ever do end up having sexual tension, there will be one major problem (aside from the obvious reason of that sentence should never have had to have been said). The big problem is that there has ever only been one woman who matched wits enough with Holmes for him to have feelings for. On a side note of Watson being a woman, she is referred to as Holmes's "companion." Are they trying to play on the popularity of Doctor Who and the people who travel with him being referred to as "companions"?
Recommendation: Enjoyable to watch, but not a "must see." There was nothing about it to me that really stood out as different/unique enough for it to be required viewing. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it doesn't really improve on what is already out there. I enjoyed it, but I think that I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it wasn't actually Holmes. Of course, this was just the pilot. Maybe it'll get more unique, or more impressive, as it goes along. And if it does, I'll be sure to let you know.