An Elementary Acquaintance

Elementary is about detective work, drug addiction, and Lucy Liu. If you were led to believe that it somehow involved Sherlock Holmes, I would recommend that you abstain from eating the beef you bought with similar gullibility from a hobo in an alley. Yes, it’s meat, but it has a horse in it.

Not joking about the horse.

Elementary is set in New York City – a brilliant choice for the modern metropolis that ought to be a backdrop for Sherlock Holmes stories, with its myriad and diverse citizens, witness to all manner of crime in its bustling streets and old lanes. Which brings us to the question of why Holmes is still English.

The readers of Horse and Hound have very specific tastes.

Jonny Lee Miller (a.k.a. a poor man’s Hugh Laurie) plays Sherlock. You may remember him from Trainspotting.

Because of course everyone remembers Trainspotting.

Speaking of Hugh Laurie, let’s be clear on one thing: Elementary is a… shall we say “tribute to”… House. In both, we have a British actor playing a drug addict with unresolved romantic issues who likes to talk fast, and takes up cases no one else can solve to keep their cravings at bay. Except House’s cases are more than mildly interesting, and there’s more at stake than the possibility of Jonny Lee Miller looking at bees with a sad face. If you think the similarities are coincidental, just remember that Sherlock could shave his stubble if he wanted to.

There are no coincidences in detective work.

Joining the doctor… I mean, detective, is surgeon-turned-sober companion-turned-assistant detective Joan Watson (Lucy Liu). That’s “Joan”, to rhyme with “groan”, and not any alter egos of famous detective story writers that you might have in mind. We first meet the former surgeon running in yoga pants through busy crowds on the streets of New York at seven in the morning. Maybe the editing crew should have known better. Maybe she has a death wish and wants to get pushed into traffic, precipitating a House/Elementary crossover.

Doctor-turned-cripple. Coincidence?

Elementary also stars Aidan Quinn (who Wikipedia tells me was Ulysses S. Grant in Jonah Hex) as Captain Gregson, and Jon Michael Hill as Detective Bell (who, disappointingly enough, is not a fictionalised version of the real-life Joseph Bell). Occasionally, we see the somewhat unintelligent Mycroft, whose only connection to the word “Diogenes” seems to be with a restaurant he owns. Suspiciously enough, his first appearance is in that episode about a missing horse. Mycroft is played by Rhys Ifans.

A.k.a. a poor man’s Sean Bean

Sherlock and Watson lead lonely lives solving crimes, interrogating suspects, attending AA meetings, cleaning the fridge and striving to be busy, perhaps all the time trying to ignore the fact that their lives are fleeting, inconsequential, and not written by Steven Moffat.

The Rube Goldberg machine in the intro, symbolising the meaninglessness of human life, is totally worth it, though.


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