Pilot Perception: Elementary

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Elementary, CBS in the U.S. and GlobalTV in Canada, Thursdays at 10/9c

The Pedigree: The show was created by Robert Doherty (Medium, Ringer). Other EPs include Carl Beverly and Sarah Timberman (Unforgettable, Justified). The pilot was directed by Michael Cuesta (Dexter, Homeland).

The Cast & How You Know Them: Elementary stars Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting, Eli Stone, Dexter) as Sherlock Holmes, Lucy Liu (Ally McBeal, Dirty Sexy Money, Southland) as Joan Watson, and Aidan Quinn (Weeds, Prime Suspect) as the police captain they work with.

The Premise: Elementary is a Sherlock Holmes adaptation set in contemporary New York City, in which Holmes is a recovering addict (and, yes, British) and Joan Watson is the sober companion hired by his father.

A Taste:

What Works: I love Jonny Lee Miller in general, and he’s perfect in this role. Holmes as a recovering addict makes complete sense. I’m also thrilled with the idea of Watson as a woman and a person of color. Their chemistry was great, and I like that the show isn’t immediately setting up a will they/won’t they situation. The pilot successfully got me interested in both of these characters both as adaptations and as characters in their own right.

What Doesn’t: I wasn’t terribly impressed by the actual case in the pilot. While I honestly don’t care that much about the specifics of the cases in procedurals as long as I like the characters and atmosphere, I need them to not be outright annoying. This one was mostly just forgettable, but we’ll see how future cases go.

Our Favorite Line: “No one with two alarm clocks loves their job.”

Other Items of Note: Sherlock Holmes fans will notice some fun callbacks to the original Conan Doyle stories – though, I suppose, purists won’t be watching in the first place.

You Might Like This if you like procedurals featuring dynamic, damaged characters. Or if you like Sherlock Holmes. Or if you like Jonny Lee Miller spending a fair amount of time inexplicably shirtless. No judgment here.

If You’re Interested: CBS is rerunning the pilot on Saturday at 9/8c., or watch it online at CBS.com or GlobalTV.com.

(Photo courtesy of CBS.)

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