Elementary, Ep.1.02, “While You Were Sleeping”: An uncompelling adaptation of Sherlock Holmes

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Elementary, Season 1, Episode 2: “While You Were Sleeping”
Directed by John Coles
Written by Rob Doherty
Airs Thursdays at 10pm (ET) on CBS.

After seeing the pilot episode for this almost uncompelling adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, Elementary skims through to a second episode and another chance to prove that Jonny Lee Miller and showrunner Robert Doherty know what they are doing.

What the pilot showed was that even though the intention to revitalize the Holmes character for modern audiences is there, the initial episode lacked the basic qualities that made Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, as well as the BBC series Sherlock, so thrilling.  In this second episode, we view Holmes and Watson’s developing relationship as they investigate a murder mystery involving a heiress, which includes a promising – and vastly improved – credit sequence consisting of a marble run reminiscent of The Goonies.

The talk of sex and relationships causes a spark (sexual or otherwise) in the partnership, highlighting the stark change of casting Watson as a woman.  Between Watson’s reluctance in talking about Holmes to her ex-boyfriend and Holmes meddling in her personal life, this episode shows a shift in their ‘personal’ boundaries.  Furthermore, this partnership becomes more interesting through the obvious mutual feeling of penance and the way their difficulties in facing their pasts are influencing more than just their career choices.

Holmes shows a darker side to his persona in this episode.  His insistence on being right as well as keeping his past as a recovering drug addict hidden from Aidan Quinn’s Captain Gregson echoes a slight edge of vigilantism.  Not convinced? Note his blatant disregard for bureaucracy and his barely concealed threat to a drug-addicted lawyer.  Holmes admits it himself: “bureaucracy – one of the reasons why I am not a policeman.”  We also learn more about Watson; Liu, trying to quietly coax her patient to open up through music (through a blatant nod to traditional Sherlock Holmes) while keeping herself bottled up, is all business and no pleasure, sticking to rehab meetings, invaluable medical knowledge, and no humour – leaving that to Miller’s almost stir-crazy Holmes.

John Coles’ direction flows in the same way as any other crime drama and the script leaves a lot to be desired.  Holmes and Watson’s chemistry just about saves the episode from being your average crime show.  Let’s just hope the next episode of Elementary steps up to the plate and brings in something new to the mix.

Katie Wong

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