After a contemplative sleep, Kendall J. Pagan’s Sherlockian Pagan has given us its most thoughtful Elementary review yet. How do I know it’s thoughtful? Why, at 1134 words, it’s almost as long as his first two reviews put together! (That, my dear Kendall, is catty.) “S3:3: The business end of a buck-shot cartridge” opens with Kendall’s typically thoughtful yet typically limited insight: “Placing CBS's Elementary up against the original Conan Doyle short stories of Sherlock Holmes is hardly a fair match.” That statement is true as far as it goes, but it would be more accurate to say that placing any cinematic treatment of Holmes against Doyle’s short stories is hardly a fair match. That’s not to say that it is impossible to improve on Doyle—some of the better versions of BLUE include scenes of the wrongly accused John Horner being released from jail, something lacking in the Doyle original—but the best of Holmes’ short-form adventures are polished gems that pack a lot in their forty-grain weight of perfection.
Says Kendall of Doyle: "Simple plots, elegantly told. A sniper's precise shot rather than the spraying Uzi of Elementary. It's very hard to even compare the two, the one flowing on the page from start to orderly finish while the other careens from pre-commercial-break "shocker" to pre-commercial-break "shocker" in something like a fish-tailing procedural formula one racer.” At ninety minutes, BBC’s Sherlock has plenty of Uzi spray. A look at Series One’s “The Great Game” finds borrowed plot elements from BRUC, NAVA, FINA, the Rathbone/Bruce film “The Pearl of Death” and STUD’s reference in Sherlock’s ignorance of astronomy; it makes, for me at any rate, an unsatisfying whole. Even Granada, that most faithful of adaptations, had to add filler to stretch some of its retellings of the Canon to fill its time-slot. “The Six Napoleons” gives us Beppo’s backstory in untranslated Italian; “The Cardboard Box” exchanges “blazing hot day in August” of the original to Christmas for a little non-Doylean yuletide levity at Baker Street.
Like a buck-shot cartridge aimed at a target, some of Kendall’s criticisms do hit home even if others are wide of the mark. “One would suspect the real Sherlock Holmes would just master knife throwing itself (How hard can that be, really?) to find out necessary facts…” Really, Kendall, how hard can it be to master knife throwing? It takes a lot of work and months or years of effort to “master” anything, so it is quite logical for Miller’s Holmes to consult experts, as Holmes did, in BLAN, for example. I do understand the need for Elementary to make Sherlock actively heterosexual, as to distinguish it from the more gay-centric Sherlock. But Miller’s dalliances have always fallen flat for me, as well as most of the comments on Joan’s sex life. I wouldn’t call episode 3.3’s remarks “catty”; unnecessary, perhaps? They are, however, well within the norm for this version of Sherlock. Of course, the Canonical Holmes always seemed to have a twinkle in his eye when commenting on Watson’s sex appeal: “With your natural advantages, Watson, every lady is your helper and accomplice. What about the girl at the post-office, or the wife of the greengrocer? I can picture you whispering soft nothings with the young lady at the Blue Anchor, and receiving hard somethings in exchange” Hard somethings? Why, Mr. Holmes, you risqué devil! Modern dialog lacks the sly subtleties of Doyle, but that’s not a failing of Elementary alone (“If I were to look at naked women, I'd borrow John's laptop.” Ouch).
As for “Just a Regular Irregular”, I thought the episode was fine, certainly in range of John Foster’s Sherlock Holmes Society of St. Charles blog’s three pipe rating. Elementary has never been about cramming in Canonical references for the cognoscenti, but telling the story of Holmes and Watson through its own unique lens with, yes Kendall, real characters and real character development. That you can’t or won’t see it is fine. I’m sure it has much more to do disliking the show since before it was on (“I could rail on for hours about how much I hate the show, based on the minutes we’ve been shown so far.” SP July 6, 2012) than watching the show on a twenty-six inch cathode ray tube set.