Elementary, a modern day adaptation of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character Sherlock Holmes, is one of the best TV series I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s one of the best “any form of entertainment” I’ve ever seen.
I know. That’s saying a lot. Here’s why I’m saying it.
The series is brilliantly written. Every episode is unique. The substance and plot of each episode is fascinating and vividly portrayed. Throw in a twist ending begging for deduction, and it’s hard not to binge watch.
The character of Sherlock Holmes, interpreted in the series by the British actor Jonny Lee Miller, is as unique as the episodes. Miller plays Sherlock as a super-intelligent, quirky misanthrope bristling with energy and childlike curiosity. He is confident to the point of arrogance, while simultaneously vulnerable due to his recovery from heroin addiction. Holmes is written as a passionate man of character badly in need of social skills. As a devoted detective/consultant to the NYPD and formerly Scotland Yard, Holmes has raised his crime solving skills to an art form.
Johnny Lee Miller plays the role like no other Sherlock Holmes before him. He is at once a cynical curmudgeon and a euphoric child fearlessly delving into major crimes of all persuasions. His quirky facial expressions, postures, and body movements consistently surprise and entertain. And, Miller delivers his lines in a manner that is equally entertaining.
Holmes, in addition to his myriad interests, is a scientist often seen conducting experiments to expand his already encyclopedic knowledge in a single-minded effort to elevate his detective skills. He also does it for the pure joy of discovery.
Miller’s energy and driving force animate the endearing characters surrounding him, most notably, a female version of Doctor Watson played by Lucy Liu. Liu is the perfect foil for Holmes. She is a caring, compassionate woman, but she’s no push over. Liu plays a former surgeon who quits the profession due to the death of a patient during a surgical procedure she assisted in. The death is not entirely her fault, but the incident spins Watson off into another career as a Sober Companion where she meets Holmes. Liu plays the role with a simple elegance. She exudes feminine beauty combined with strength and intelligence in every scene. Watson is a high-spirited, emotional, and controlled person all at the same time. She’s apt to surprise, but never dull. Her stylish, understated wardrobe cleverly accents her powerful presence.
Miller and Liu, to say the least, are consummate professional actors. They are eminently watchable opposite one another. I’ve developed a tremendous love and admiration for these two characters and actors. I can only use the word mesmerizing to describe the exchanges between them. Slowly, Holmes and Watson transform one another as the series progresses. Watson doesn’t allow the brash Holmes to trample over her, yet she displays a remarkable patience with his idiosyncrasies. It’s a heart opening experience to watch them grow together amidst the multiple seasons of riveting episodes.
The main cast of characters is fleshed out by Aidan Quinn appearing as Captain “Tommy” Gregson, the Chief of Precinct 11, where Holmes and Watson assist. Quinn is another consummate professional who plays his role seamlessly. Detective Marcus Bell, played by Jon Michael Hill, completes the ensemble. They, too, have compelling character arcs throughout the series.
Elementary spans seven seasons. It never gets old. It’s forever fresh and interesting. I’m watching it again on Hulu. Quality entertainment in a TV series like this one is a rare pearl in a sea of mediocrity.
As an aside, I first discovered Jonny Lee Miller in the series Eli Stone. Miller has the lead role as a corporate attorney whose life and career are turned upside down when he starts seeing visions. I had never seen or heard of the guy before. I found Eli Stone to be a highly enjoyable comedy/drama series. It’s an especially touching and refreshing offering recommended for the heavy times we are living through.