Saturday, 13 October 2012

Elementary starring Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu PREVIEW

Joan Watson and Sherlock Holmes
Helluva backdrop for the new Holmes – Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller. Pics: BSkyB

Rating: ★★★★ 

Sky Living: starts Tuesday, 23 October, 9pm

Story: An unhappy episode in London and a stint in drug rehabilitation pitches consulting detective Sherlock Holmes into a spell of recuperation in New York. At the insistence of his father, Sherlock is forced to take on a 'sober companion', Dr Joan Watson, who is to monitor his recovery.

After the kerfuffle over this US update supposedly ripping-off the BBC's Sherlock – complete with the latter's creator Steven Moffat 'annoyed' by the cheek of it – here at last is Holmes in modern New York. Let battle commence.

Jonny Lee Miller is, of course, the consulting detective in this new version from CBS, the twist being that he is recovering from his drug addiction in New York at the insistence of his father, who also lands him with a 'sober companion', Dr Joan Watson, to keep him on the straight and narrow.

Sherlock's 'helper monkey'
Watson being a woman may have the purists round Baker Street spluttering in their tea, but Lucy Liu has many good moments with Miller in the opening episode. She is, of course, bemused by his deducing all her secrets – that she dislikes her job because she has two alarm clocks and hates getting up for it, that she is a surgeon who killed a patient, etc – and he calls her his 'addict sitter' and 'helper monkey'.

But Watson sticks up for herself, and by the end she's making deductions about Holmes – for instance, sniffing out that he went off the rails in London because of a broken romance.



Aidan Quinn as Toby Gregson
They are swiftly pulled into investigating the murder of a woman at her home. Holmes can just walk into the murder scene because Aidan Quinn is the senior detective involved, and he's encountered Sherlock while on secondment in London.

The New York forensics guy wants who the cocky Brit is that's making all the brilliant deductions about the murder scene, but naturally Holmes is quickly accepted as a brilliant case closer. He works out that her body has been put in a hidden panic room, and that the perpetrator was not an intruder but someone who knew her.

Elementary v the BBC's Sherlock
It's an intriguing, but not particularly believable case (how many Sherlock escapades are?), but the fun of it is rightly centred on the tension and bonding between Holmes and Watson. This works well, thanks to the lead actors.

So how does Sky Living's new import compare to Sherlock? Steven Moffat has nothing to fear. Elementary is entertaining and shot superbly round New York, but it doesn't have the relish and verve of the Beeb's drama.

Most portrayed character on screen in the world
Jonny Lee Miller's Holmes is politer and nicer than Benedict Cumberbatch's near autistic version. And the atmosphere of almost supernatural foreboding is missing, though that may come in later mysteries.

With Sherlock Holmes being easily the world's most portrayed fictional character on screen, there is certainly room for this sharp and witty newcomer.

Cast: Jonny Lee Miller Sherlock Holmes, Lucy Liu Dr Joan Watson, Aidan Quinn Toby Gregson, Jon Michael Hill Marcus Bell