Elementary: Catch up

Firstly, we apologise. We've done you wrong and we ask your forgiveness. In our desire to cover the 1722 channels available from the Digital Fix satellite, we did not get around to Elementary. As evidence of our regret, we'll put that right straight away by catching you up, all season one and the six episodes shown in the UK of season two so far.
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Season one of Elementary introduced us to the irascible, brilliant and anti-social Sherlock Holmes living in modern day New York. Sherlock was a recovering addict, having had a spectacular breakdown and clinical admission, and is forced to take on a "sober companion" to help him complete his recovery when he escapes from rehab. Of course, the companion is Watson, Joan Watson, and their bravura opening scene has him deducing her background as an ex-surgeon and dragging her along to a murder, announcing that he will continue to work as a consultant with NYPD en route.

The initial set-up is a temporary one, and through the usual murder of the week format, the odd couple dynamic develops and the relationship goes from being a purely clinical one to mirroring the classical partnership from Conan Doyle. In the course of this development, we are introduced first to a character called "M", played by Vinnie Jones, and then learn of Sherlock's great love, Irene Adler, whom he believes was murdered by "M". In episode 12, Sherlock manages to capture "M" and sets about torturing him, fully intent on killing him, as revenge.imageWe, of course, meet a wider Team Sherlock, with Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Detective Bell (Jon Michael Bell) as the people who usually call the deductive duo in. Gregson and Bell act as the sceptical voices for Holmes to bounce off, and Watson starts to go from sober companion to friend and detective in training. This allows for Holmes to behave like a dick and for all sorts of humour and tension to be contained within the basic format of a network detective show.

This is then complimented by the over-arching story. By the end of season one, we have learned who Irene Adler was, how Sherlock's heart was broken, and we have established who Moriarty is. Thankfully the show knows that whilst it solves a murder or two a week, it shouldn't resolve Sherlock's anti-social tendencies, or go for a silly romantic coupling between Liu and Miller(yet). This means that bar a few surprises in the greater plot, Elementary is relatively safe and formulaic, although much better played and cast than most such network shows.imageWhich gets us to season two which begins, happily enough, in Blighty with a couple more characters introduced from the original tales. In the opener, Sherlock nips across the pond to look into a case of Inspector Lestrade going loopy. Of course, this also means we get to meet Mycroft, played with a delicious reined in mischief by Rhys Ifans, learning that he is very ill and wants rapprochement with his brother. They had a magnificent falling out over Sherlock's infidelity with Mycroft's ex-fiancée. Joan is won over by Mycroft, and the boys sort of bury the hatchet with a glorious explosion (see above).

Mycroft returns in episode 7, but it's worth mentioning that there's an excellent episode where Gregson's wife is introduced and a very good one with mathematicians following the opener. Whilst continuing the sub-plot of Watson developing her own sideline as a sleuth, the story has continued with their oddly perfect arrangement whilst throwing a few more adult obstacles in their path - such as sex and Sherlock's continuing intrusions into Joan's privacy.

This season still has to re-introduce Moriarty and is developing some nice hints about Mycroft to follow up on later. Its audience is still good state-side despite being scheduled against Scandal, currently the fourth highest rating drama over there, as viewers catch up by taping it and coming back to it later. To these eyes, the programme has become tighter and the quality higher, let's hope that the show isn't forced into the obvious romance to chase ratings and allows Sherlock to plumb some more depths instead.

Finally, I'd just like to state that Lee Miller doesn't always get his due. He was excellent in Eli Stone and Dexter, and his playing off Lucy Liu is a joy here. A cinema career as a lead seems unlikely now for him, but hopefully he gets some opportunities to keep up with the Cumberbatchs and Hiddlestones of this world as a reward for his fine work here.

Elementary is shown in the UK by Sky Living on Tuesdays and is also available on Sky Go

Overall

7

out of 10

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