HEADS UP, SHERLOCK NERDS: The Trailer for "Elementary" is Out and It Doesn't Look That Bad

Your resident Sherlock Holmes geek (or one of them, anyway) weighs in. (Bonus: totally gratuitous picture of "Desperately Seeking Susan" era Aidan Quinn.)

May 17, 2012 at 10:30am | Leave a comment

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Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller star as the original odd couple.

So, the short version is: earlier last year US TV network CBS decided that the UK's modern-day Holmesian update "Sherlock" would make an awesome TV show.

Then they found out it's already a TV show.

Undeterred, they approached the producers of "Sherlock" with their cunning plan to unnecessarily remake the existing series, and the "Sherlock" producers apparently gave CBS a whole lot of whatever the British version of the side-eye is, and things didn't work out.

That's not going to stop CBS, though! They're still making a Holmes update, featuring an addict Holmes fresh out of rehab living in New York City. But it's not "Sherlock." For one thing, it's missing precisely one Cumberbatch; for another, I suspect none of the writers are likely to actually read and derive episodes by turning original canonical Holmes stories inside-out in an occasionally clever, occasionally irritating way. (Although I admit I am being presumptuous there.)

Nay, this show is called "Elementary."

The trailer combines scenes from the new series with behind the scenes interviews. And as much as I was prepared to do a lot of eye-rolling, it doesn't seem, on this admittedly shiny surface view, to look as bad as I might have expected. 

The pros:

- Jonny Lee Miller, who is kind of great in most things, even the outrageous 90s badness of "Hackers," but also actual good things like "Trainspotting" and the recent BBC update of Jane Austen's "Emma." Apparently Miller is also a regular character in season five of "Dexter," a series I gave up awhile back and now might revisit on this basis alone.

- Lucy Liu, who plays a lady Watson. I like it when ladies play roles originally intended for men. I also like Lucy Liu.

- Aidan Quinn, who is apparently destined to play police captains for the rest of his career, as he recently did in the tragically cancelled US remake of "Prime Suspect" (the rare American redux which was SO GOOD you guys, and the cancellation so wrong).

The cons:

- Any Holmeslike character in an American setting is probably going to read to most audiences as a watered-down Gregory House. This is a bummer but it's true. Watch comment threads for people complaining that "Elementary" is a "House" ripoff, when the irony is that "House" was a Sherlock Holmes ripoff in the first place. (Kind of like that time there was that vampire show "Moonlight" and people whined that it was ripping off "Angel" when really both shows were ripping off the marvelously campy "Forever Knight," which I own complete on DVD and which you may come over to watch with me pretty much anytime.)

 - All of the behind-the-scenes interviews seem willfully ignorant of "Sherlock" in a way that is kind of silly. Like they're talking about creating a modern-day Holmes like OMG NOBODY HAS DONE THIS BEFORE IT'S A WHOLE NEW THING and also HOLMES IS SUPER WEIRD AND THAT IS ALSO A WHOLE NEW THING and it comes off a little odd. Maybe it's a thing they have to do to not get sued by Mycroft Holmes (AKA "Sherlock" co-creator Mark Gatiss) and his band of really polite thugs.

In summation: While I'm not exactly jumping up and down in excitement yet, I am less inclined to write this off as inevitably horrible. At least until I see the pilot. To conclude, I'm going to add a picture of Aidan Quinn from "Desperately Seeking Susan" so I can end this on a high note.

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Yow.

Mission accomplished.