Thursday, May 17, 2012

Trailer for Elementary, the CBS Sherlock (Oh, and River Song Gets Booted Out of the Closet)

I'm a fan of Sherlock Holmes. Namely, the Conan Doyle canonical source material. With my sister being as fervently in love with the volumes as possible, rereading them on an annual basis, it was pretty much inevitable that I read them myself. And I can say with zero falsity or pretension (feel free to disagree on that last one) that the stories are better than any of the dozens of adaptations that have been made.

To be fair, let's take a look at all the recent versions of Sherlock that have been produced, along with trailer for the new upcoming CBS take, Elementary

I really enjoyed the Robert Downey Jr. films. Somehow making Sherlock a fight-scene action star didn't mean they couldn't nail the mood of dark, Victorian menace outwitted by ingenious determination. Plus they were super fun.

The newest British TV show was enjoyable at first, a modern take on the man and relationship, but their version of Moriarty entirely ruined it for me, and Moffat's ham-handed gay subtext is rather insulting to the actual title character, who is entirely devoid of sexuality in the stories. (Seems Moffat is even more a fan of forcing generous Kinsey scale grades on fictional characters than Russell T. Davies, what with his recent announcement that River Song/Melody Pond is apparently bisexual. Cause in the future people don't have our sexual hang-ups man, dig it.)

The gender-bending continues in the upcoming American Sherlock, CBS' Elementary, starring Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock in NYC and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson. Yep, that's happening. Sherlock had some failure in London, apparently, and his (heretofore unheard of) wealthy Father sends him to NYC where he undergoes some rehab, and then gets assigned a "sober companion", which is apparently a job that actually exists and is carried out by addiction-specialist surgeons (?) who lost their license a couple years back after losing a patient.

I was not very interested when I heard this on a list of pilots being filmed a few months ago, both because of the heavy and forced twists to a classic story merely because of other adaptations' recent success, and said adaptations' oversaturation of the characters, but I have always had a soft spot for Lucy Liu and Johnny Lee Miller just feels familiar ever since Hackers. However the trailer, despite Bleeding Cool's generous optimism, doesn't seem convincing to me.

Liu has worked wonderfully for me many times on the big and small screens, but every successful character she's portrayed has had a hardness, a barely repressed rage or violence, controlled and expressed with precision. The few times I've seen her attempt happy-go-lucky were completely flat, and while this Watson character is certainly not super chipper, and doubtless has some dark secrets, I don't think she sells it in the trailer. Perhaps in those rare moments when she must exercise some control over Sherlock her strength and dynamic nature will come out, but since this show, despite altering setting and sexual organs, doesn't seem to be actually revolutionizing any themes, I expect Sherlock will dominate the plot and decision making as usual.

In addition, being both a primetime American series and CBS show specifically, this is going to be a procedural. Meaning, it'll be abominably slow and stretched out. No cable-series sudden developments or status quo changes, and I'm kinda bored already anticipating it. Not to mention the inevitable will-they-wont-they Sherlock Watson romantic and sexual tension, which is not something CBS/primetime show runners like to actually settle or consummate or take a chance on until the finale of the 4th season. And I'm not convinced by the trailer that Miller and Liu have any chemistry. Or why exactly Aiden Quinn keeps getting roles as "that other cop who acts as a liason". Someone stick him in a Sandra Bullock movie already.

Anyway, here's the trailer so you can judge for yourself. (I DO like the part where Holmes tears into a chick for lying, and must admit that I'll definitely give the show a chance in the Fall.)

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