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Elementary

Postby Bri » Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:51 am

As you might've guessed from the title, this is regarding the new TV show of the same name that updates Sherlock Holmes. I put this on my DVR and recently got a chance to watch the three shows I had recorded so far.

First impression: Holmes is pretty much spot-on, if one takes into account the update to the 21st century. The guy playing him is as abrupt, impatient, and detail oriented as one expects Holmes to be, yet he gives Holmes a surprisingly human element in his interactions with his new Watson; namely, Lucy Liu.

This is where it sort of fails (albeit just slightly) though; Watson as a woman is hardly a new thought, but I'm not sure Ms. Liu gives the character everything I'd expect to see. Watson is meant to serve as an appropriate foil for Holmes, but in the early stages of the show, she's shown as being very impatient with Holmes and not nearly as helpful as Watson was usually shown to be in the stories. I'm hoping that will improve as time goes by though, because I'm seriously liking the show. I find the premise of Holmes being a recovering drug addict to be fairly plausible, even if that was only introduced in order to give Watson the premise to move in with him as his live-in companion for six weeks. I'm interested to see how they intend to continue the interaction once the six weeks are up for Watson's character to be his live-in companion. Here's hoping the show doesn't get canceled after a single season, or even mid-season; I don't know what the ratings have been like on the show. It's in an advantageous spot though; right after Person of Interest, which is another show I quite like to watch.
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Re: Elementary

Postby brutus87 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:41 pm

I disagree slightly on holmes. hes fun don't get me wrong, but at the same time...have you seen the BBC's Sherlock? it completely eclipses his version, set in the 21st century, in London, tho Watson is a dude. Least, that's my feelings. Its a different format, each 'episode' around 2 hours long, three per season but its in london and...cumberbatch is much more of the detached, arrogant Holmes then Jonny Lee Miller. Dont get me wrong, Elementary is a good show, but Sherlock is simply better.

As for Miss Watson, well, you remember the drawing I made? always been a fan of a female Watson. All kinds of fan ficy fun. But, here, we agree, the character could be done better. Lucy Lui is not the first choice i would go with, period. The drug addict bit? Brilliant. Lucy Lius portraily of Watson, not so much.

I do hope it doenst get shit canned mid season. I dunno if it'll last a year tho. Then again, my perception is competely biased by the BBC's show, which's third season starts soonish, i think >.>
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Thu Oct 25, 2012 7:45 am

I actually checked on this after I posted; CBS has greenlit the entire season of Elementary following an excellent showing in the ratings. It's apparently the #2 ranked new show, and is ranked #9 in overall ratings, so that's sufficiently high for it to at least get a full season.

I think part of the problem for me, with a female Watson, is that I can't help but feel that a female Watson would end up "mothering" Holmes, and that's not a dynamic that really works well in the Holmes universe. I've already seen some elements of that in this show, but thus far Holmes has put paid to it in fairly spectacular fashion, so I'm hopeful it won't be a huge issue.

I don't disagree with you as regards Benedict Cumberbatch playing Holmes quite excellently; I just feel that Jonny Lee Miller portrays him well, given what I know of the character and taking into account the backstory given thus far. I can't picture Cumberbatch's Holmes ever being a drug addict, and yet we know that in canon, Holmes did briefly abuse cocaine to a mild extent, and Miller gives the character a slightly maniacal element that Cumberbatch tends to lack a bit. I think both of them play the character the best of anyone I've seen outside of Robert Downey Jr. (I leave Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone off the list only because they only portrayed Holmes' cerebral side and didn't explore the more physical elements the character had). Ultimately I don't think you can really compare the two shows, or the way the actors portray the characters, because each creative mind is going to portray Holmes in a slightly different light. I don't think one is better than the other at this point; they're just different. I may change my mind later though.
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Re: Elementary

Postby brutus87 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:43 pm

I guess, for me, i cant get past the fact that Cumberbatch's Holmes feels more like Holmes to me. As far as neurotic, RDJR does that so well....but i dunno. I dont think i can quantify it really, but every time i watch Elemantary (and i do watch it, dont get me wrong, I actually enjoy the show and am looking forwrad to it tonight) i just...I don't feel it can stack up to Sherlock. Dunno, maybe I'm just one of those "oh, the Brits do it better" kind of ppl XD

That said, i love JLM. a] his initials are the same as mine, and b] Hackers anybody?
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:30 pm

Ultimately it's not really about who can be Holmes the best for me (besides, of the three, Robert Downey Jr. wins hands down, if only because I seriously want to have that man's babies); they all bring a unique perspective to the character that I quite enjoy watching evolve as each respective showing continues.

However... I will admit that when ranking the different shows, Elementary comes in third in comparison to the movies (first) and the BBC show (second). Although I think that's due more to the fact that the other characters each add their own weight, and Lucy Liu just falls far short in comparison to Jude Law and Martin Freeman.
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Re: Elementary

Postby brutus87 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:37 am

Well, yeah, i agree with you in ranking for sure. and on Lucy Lui. I feel they could do so much more with a female watson, and Lucy just ain't living up to it. What more they could do? Who would I rather see? Don't really know the answer to either question, I'm afraid XD
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:37 pm

I think, if they're going with a female Watson... then make her more like the character in the stories. That's difficult to do, I realize; Watson WAS a man in late-nineteenth century England, and as such had a unique perspective that women wouldn't really get, but I still think it's possible to pull it off. But she needs to be as impatient with Holmes as Watson ever was in the stories; able to interpret those subtle clues Holmes gives as to his state of mind, and able to run interference as needed when Holmes brushes people off.

Thus far, Lucy Liu has alternated between mothering Holmes and being impatient with him WITHOUT the understanding that Watson showed in the stories for Holmes' reactions to things. I will say that, in this show, it's somewhat understandable at first; in the stories, Watson didn't really get involved with Holmes' cases until he'd known him for approximately a month or two; in this case, she's been thrust into tagging along on his cases without the slightest amount of time to understand where Holmes is coming from. I still think it's possible for Lucy Liu to give the character of Watson more ooomph, for lack of a better word, and since we've got a whole season ahead of us, I'm hopeful that will start showing up.
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:23 pm

So speaking of how different actors portray the characters; I had the opportunity tonight to see a showing of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" on TCM, starring Peter Cushing, Andre Morell, and Christopher Lee. Cushing was Holmes, Morell was Watson, and Lee was Sir Henry Baskerville.

I found the characterization rather interesting; Morell's Watson was certainly not a bumbling man, as was portrayed by some of the actors who've played the part in the past, but he wasn't the most effective Watson I've ever seen either. Cushing, like most of the people who've portrayed Holmes, focused largely on the cerebral aspects of the character, but there were glimmers of moments when Holmes' physical capabilities shone through (there's a scene, for instance, when Holmes shoots the hound which is slavering away on top of Sir Henry; only a crack shot could have made the shot and not risked hitting the man rather than the beast).

One thing I find interesting about the films prior to the more recent fare we've gotten is that most people who've portrayed Holmes actually appeared quite old. Cushing for instance was only 46 when this movie was shot in 1959, but I'd swear he looks at least sixty (although that may be due to the cadaverous appearance of the man's face; he looks exactly the same as he did when he was playing Grand Moff Tarkin in the first Star Wars movie in the late seventies, and he WOULD have been nearing sixty or been over sixty at that point). Most other characterizations I've seen of Holmes (which granted, hasn't been many) aside from the most recent ones all have the actor appearing much older than is described in the books. If I recall correctly, in the very first meeting of Holmes and Watson, Watson's description of Holmes described a man in his late twenties, possibly early thirties. In fact, if I'm remembering rightly, they met in a laboratory at one of London's colleges, implying that Holmes was at best a man in the prime of his life. Implies that Hollywood didn't actually pay as much attention to the actual character descriptions as they did the storyline.

Another point against Cushing was his height. Holmes was described as being between six-three and six-five, if I'm judging the descriptions correctly; it was somewhat odd to see Cushing standing next to Christopher Lee, who probably WAS over six feet, and see how small Cushing appeared.

Aside from those small nitpicks, I'm of the opinion that Cushing wasn't a bad Holmes. He certainly had the abrupt mannerisms down. I quite enjoyed seeing Holmes from a different aspect. Makes me want to see all the other films that have portrayed Holmes to see how different actors treated the character. The movie was fairly close to the story as well; a few differences here and there, but overall similar. I'd recommend it if you can find it; maybe it's on Netflix or something.
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Re: Elementary

Postby brutus87 » Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:22 am

now i want ot see the that holmes movie, if only for the old school star power. And Hollywood almost never paid attention to the details back then, IIRC. It was enough for them to follow the plot and play up to the expecations of most people. most people then probably didnt pick up on Holmes height. And, iirc, most people then were smaller then they are now, ya? Not sure why, that seems to stick in the back of my head as a justification for a shorter holmes, since i cant think up any more good justification for it, but yeah...
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:08 am

Honestly I'm not sure they really took the physical description of Holmes into account at all in those old movies. Christopher Lee, for instance, played Holmes several times later in his career, so he would have met the height requirements, but again would have appeared much older than the character is described. The earliest film version of Holmes Lee played was in 1962, when he was 40. I will give them credit; he looks a lot younger than most of the other guys who played Holmes in the early days of the film adaptations of the stories, but he's not quite as I pictured Holmes from the physical descriptions. Here's a photo:

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I read on the Sherlock Holmes Wikipedia page that Holmes was estimated to have been born in 1854, and met Watson in 1880 or 1882, which would have put him in his late twenties at the time of the meeting, and mid-thirties at best during the height of his titular partnership with Watson. As I said, I'm certainly aware that people in that era could have looked older than they really were (as someone on my Facebook page pointed out, the average life expectancy of a person in that time was 45, although that was more due to the high infant mortality rate than anything else), but Conan Doyle's description of Holmes brings to mind a man in the prime of his life who, while giving a slightly gaunt appearance, was incredibly fit and strong due to his physical activities as well as being an intellectual giant. So, knowing that, and having seen the three most recent persons to play Holmes (who all appear very fit in their roles), it ends up being a tad bit jarring to see all these older-looking actors playing Holmes back in the day (barring the actor from the 1985 adaptation showing a teenaged Holmes taking on what would have been one of his first ever cases). Don't get me wrong; all the ones I've seen have certainly portrayed Holmes' intellectual capacities to a tee; it's just that, knowing what I know about the character, I sort of wish they'd made the effort to portray all sides of him, rather than just the one. But then, people back then probably didn't really know Holmes that deeply; he's such a well-known character due to his intellectual abilities that Hollywood probably realized that if they HAD tried to cast younger, more fit actors as the character back then that people would have cried foul. I'm glad they finally got the stones to properly portray him now though.
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Re: Elementary

Postby brutus87 » Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:19 pm

Aye, the whole while i've been reading through this, i've bee thinking "Would people have believed someone so young could be so smart? No, probably not" I'm with you, however. It is good that they are casting younger Holmes' now
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:29 am

Exactly. Let's be honest here; how many people have actually READ and paid attention to the stories? Most people know of Sherlock Holmes because he's such a well known literary figure; sort of like these days, you ask almost anyone who Edward Cullen is and they automatically think "sparkly vampire" (and hopefully they shudder in disgust at the same time, but that's neither here nor there), or ask them about Harry Potter and they think "kid wizard with the evil nemesis". I would bet you anything that Hollywood was the ONLY exposure most people got to Sherlock Holmes back then. Given that, it's hardly surprising that most people would have thought of Holmes as an older gentleman, or at the very least middle-aged, rather than the younger man he was in the stories. Heck, I'm only really aware of it because honestly, my initial thought upon seeing the trailer for the first Sherlock Holmes movie was incredulity that they could portray Holmes as a bit of an action hero; after I saw the movie, I got inspired to read the actual stories and found out just how wrong I was about how I had pictured Holmes myself. Prior to reading the stories I thought of Holmes as little more than his intellectual genius, much like most people who've never read the books. Now I know the truth though, so it becomes a point of some contention with me.
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:39 pm

Watched the fourth episode today. I'm starting to see the dynamic show up more between Watson and Holmes. Lucy Liu's got a long way to go before I'd consider her an effective Watson, but... she's getting better. Marginally.
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Re: Elementary

Postby brutus87 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:37 pm

There is starting to be some back and forth bt the characters, i'll give you that. But yes, she's got a long way to go. I really need to figure out who I would have rather played a female watson so i can start comparing them LOL
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:48 pm

The problem is, the only other person who's played a female Watson was in this god-awful made for TV movie, and she sucked worse than Lucy Liu.

I honestly don't think we'd be able to determine who could ADEQUATELY play a female Watson until that person actually shows up and plays the part. We're so inured in the idea of a male Watson that even the notion of a female Watson automatically makes us think "wrong" even though it could work. Although... I'm starting to think that a female sidekick can't really be WATSON. Watson and Holmes had such a unique dynamic, and a big big part of that was because it was two MEN interacting. I realize this is totally un-PC of me to say, but women and men are just not wired to think the same way; as a result, even if a woman plays Watson, it's just not going to be the same.

That's not to say it can't work; it absolutely can. But there's always going to be something missing from the interaction, in my opinion, that wouldn't necessarily be there when a man plays Watson.

Even so, I'm sure between the two of us we can think of some female actresses who could play Watson relatively well. And Lucy Liu IS getting better. I just hope the show will be around long enough for that dynamic to start showing between her and Jonny Lee Miller moreso than it is now.
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Re: Elementary

Postby brutus87 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:00 pm

I do tend to agree with you: as un-PC as you said, it is, the interactions between two men are different then between two women, or a man and a woman. So the dynamic is unavoidably different, by that simple fact. I suppose i do need to try and look at this differently then the watson-holmes dynamic i expect.

That said, we can probably bounce some names back and forth. For some reason I cant put a finger on, Olivia Wilde comes to mind, but honestly I'm not sure.
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:19 am

Probably because she played such a strong female character in House, who everyone has said was modeled after Sherlock Holmes, only for the medical profession. *LOL* The dynamic between House and Thirteen was definitely reminiscent of the partnership Holmes and Watson shared; she was probably the only female character who was more than a match for House aside from Cuddy on the entire show.

I'm not really sure who comes to mind for me. Obviously the actress needs to have played strong female characters in the past who interacted well with men while still playing a supporting role, or it's pretty hard to picture them in the role. There aren't too many actresses who can pull that off, and most of the ones I can think of would probably be too old for the role. Although I suppose we can suggest actresses who are older now but be referring to them when they were younger, so how about Sigourney Weaver?

Zoe Saldana also comes to mind, come to think of it, although I suppose it'd be odd to have a Watson of mixed race, not to mention being female.
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Re: Elementary

Postby brutus87 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:51 pm

Well, they made Holmes an asian female in this new one, so why not one of mixed racial heritage. It could still work, me thinks. She would certinaly have the spunk to work with Sherlock. I would almost suggest the actress who plays Temperance Brennan in Bones (Emily Deschanel), save that one could argue she already plays a clinically detached female Holmes (a stretch, i suppose). she might be too smart, or too used to playing a woman who is smart (and leading lady, not support role), to pull it off.
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:23 am

True... oooh, but what about her boss? Dr. Saroyan (I can't remember the actress's name) has experience dealing with a clinically detached coworker in a role.
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Re: Elementary

Postby brutus87 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:32 am

oooooo yano, that would be good. She strikes me as the type to be able to play a version of Watson that would simply pat holmes on the head and point him in the right direction, me thinks. Or well, be better equipped to handle Holmes then Lucy Lui's watson seems to be
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:42 am

True, although I'm not sure I'd be interested in a Watson who merely pats Holmes on the head and sends him on his way, so to speak. *LOL*

I have found a role Lucy Liu is completely believable in, incidentally. Went to see "Man With The Iron Fists" on Friday (it was a reward for myself after spending four freakin' hours waiting to take part in early voting in my state; I was hurting after that); in that movie, she plays a brothel madam with a streak of vicious ruthlessness that is totally believable on her. She's got the martial arts background going for her with that. The movie itself was merely a good means to turn my brain off for a couple of hours, but I did find her acting chops in that role to be just about perfect.

Maybe... if they could get her Watson character to bring a little of that kick-ass quality to the show... she'd be better in the role. I could totally see that working; and it would make her much more believable in the part. If she were able to be more of a partner rather than a sidekick (I never considered Watson to be a sidekick anyway; he tended to play a vital role in Holmes' cases once he and Holmes really started working together), I think she'd settle into the role much better.
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Re: Elementary

Postby brutus87 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:30 am

Watson was alwasy ready with his revolver and his resolve to go into danger at holmes side. He was willing, ready, and able to get into the thick of it, no questions asked. And while Lucy Liu's Watson has come to Holmes aid, its not quite the same thing, yet. Should she develop a more combative side (tho, I dont know of all that many fights s far in the show, that i can remember at least) it would go along way towards making me like the character more
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:40 pm

I tend to agree with you. There's always hope for this season, since they've greenlit the whole thing; cross your fingers!
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Re: Elementary

Postby brutus87 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:02 pm

time will tell!
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Re: Elementary

Postby Bri » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:03 am

Well, there are signs that Watson is becoming much more of a partner to Holmes.

She's been able to help him on his way to several solutions now, and I'm starting to see quite the dynamic developing between them. Especially now that Watson has dug into Holmes' past and has *gasp* uncovered a name that may be someone he has had dealings with in his past.

I'll give you three guesses as to who; or you can just watch the episode and find out who it is. *L*
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