DVD Review: Elementary (Season 2)

If you have never seen BBC’s Sherlock Holmes themed series Sherlock then Elementary would seem like a perfunctory, if fairly terrible, show about Sherlock Holmes for an American audience. It’s regular episodic television featuring a wonky detective (Johny Lee Miller) and his sidekick (Lucy Liu) as they solve crimes in modern day New York City. He’s a handful and she’s as much handler as she is sidekick, of course, and they solve wacky crimes that come across his desk as a private detective. And if this just existed in a vacuum this would be awful television on a network that’s about two steps ahead of Spike TV in terms of intellectual appeal from its small screen library.

The sheer absurd greatness that is Sherlock points out how awful this show is by comparison.

The show focuses on the usual sort of manner a Sherlock Holmes show is presented. He’s got an hour (with commercials) to solve a mystery presented to him and he most likely will; this is a crime version of House, nothing more, as Miller’s version of Holmes has all the hallmarks of a typical TV version of Holmes and Liu is an interesting choice as Watson. It gives a different dynamic to the Watson/Holmes dynamic by virtue of their gender differences alone, of course, and both Miller and Liu are game for the roles.

The problem is that this is the sort of show that’s fairly disposable, week in and week out, and it pales in comparison to Sherlock. It’s necessary to compare this show because they are contemporaries and the British Sherlock Holmes television show is profoundly better for any number of reasons. The biggest is that every episode means something for the overwhelming arc of the show. Elementary is much closer in tone and gimmick to House, which is essentially Holmes as a doctor, but doesn’t have the cleverness of that show.

This is a film that basically posits the conceit of Miller as this obnoxious but brilliant detective, nothing more, and doesn’t do anything to grow or change the character in meaningful ways through the second season. In many ways it has the same flaws as House as it’s content to sort of grind out this season with the same gimmicks as the first.

If you’re a Sherlock Holmes diehard this is something you can watch as a completest but there’s nothing original or insightful being brought into the pop culture lexicon in Elementary about Holmes we haven’t contemplated or seen before in other, better shows and other, better variants on Sherlock Holmes. We see it for three feature length episodes in Sherlock and that’s the better investment of both time and resources.

A handful of EPK pieces, a couple deleted scenes and nothing else of note are included.

Paramount Home Entertainment presents Elementary (Season 2). Starring Lucy Liu, Johny Lee Miller. Released: August 26, 2014.

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