Saturday, February 1, 2014

'Elementary' Season 2, #14 - 'Dead Show Walking' - I mean, "Dead Glade Walking' - a review

After spending a lot of blog space if not defending "Elementary" at least encouraging watchers to 'Play the Game' with it, I feel slightly betrayed.
Well, okay, more than slightly.
I am amongst the group that has never really felt this portrayal of Holmes has ever been, after the first couple of episodes, more than just a fun exercise in finding Sherlockian references and hoping the show would grow.
Although there have been several good moments, and it has offered many good debates and discussions, it really never has been anything more than making a square peg fit into a round hole.

Having a strong female Watson was a fun touch. Spending time explaining Holmes' back story, once, was okay. Some quirkiness involving habits and brothers could work. But where was the real detective work.

I have enjoyed the exercise of attempting to consider a plot line where Natalie Dormer could make a good Moriarty. And I thought we had kinda nailed that one. But even that was a debate to keep hope alive that if we 'prayed' long enough the show would become more Sherlockian. We would be done with the drug and sexual addiction back stories and move on to some good old detective work.

But it doesn't appear that is going to happen this season.
The show is stuck a repetitive cycle of unnecessary rehashing of bad personal traits and weak plots.
And in this last episode I was even hard pressed to come up with anything other than minor Sherlockian references.

This last episode, "Dead Glade Walking" started out with lots of promise. Watson had delved into Holmes truck of old cases. A Sherlockian treasure chest for all Sherlockians for sure.

The case Watson chooses to examine involves an unsolved murder. Holmes was apparently so riddled in his addictions that he was unable to give the case the attention it required. Leaving the victims parents with an unresolved loss.

After only a short time Watson finds a rather large over looked clue at the home of the murder victim; A rock that doesn't match the rest of the rocks in a rock garden.

It turns out the rock contains the fossilized remains of a more adaptive dinosaur. Watson, again, is very up on Sherlocks game. Holmes is stuck in his roll reversal job of addiction mentor.

The case really is unimportant involving winter delivering ice cream vendors, antiquity smugglers and jealous archaeologists. Watson does a great job on the case.

The show once again has introduced some good characters that we will probably never see again, and in some cases does in no way expand the show.

We keep hoping that some surprising plot line will come along and explain the whole season and tie all these dangling's together.

Time is running out.

Sherlock Holmes' presence was completely non-existent. Although good acting on Jonny Lee Millers part was to be found, it was not as Sherlock Holmes.

When the exercise of "Playing the Game" becomes less of a game and more of an exercise this show will become tiring, as some have already found it to be.

Perhaps if we are able to view the show as just another detective show like detective shows of past, it could still be good. But as Sherlockians we are expecting Sherlock Holmes. . . and we are not getting him.

So, only because I don't want to cut my pipe in half, I give this episode one pipe.

At least we still have one more episode of 'Sherlock'.


  1. You hit it right on the spot. The show is running out of steam pretty quickly.

    Except for the rare good episodes (that usually feature either Moran or Moriarty or a great supporting actor like F. Murray Abraham), most episodes tend to be average at best. Perhaps, that itself is a telling comment on the effectiveness of the plots and the casting of JLM and Lucy Liu.

    I usually tend to like the actors who give their best performance (in my humble opinion) as Holmes or Watson. This is true for Vasily Livanov, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Cushing, Jude Law, Vitaly Solomin, Nigel Stock and so on...

    I cannot say the same for JLM or Lucy Liu. I still prefer Lucy's performance in Kill Bill. I have not seen any of JLM's movies yet.


    1. You are correct in that these are not their best works.

  2. John, while I was watching "Dead Clade Walking" I thought of you and what your reaction to the episode would be. I thought you would be disappointed but not to this extent. You make a lot of good points and I share some of your trepidation on the trajectory of the season. Now, I judge this episode in two ways, as a Sherlock Holmes show and as an American TV mystery show. As a mystery show "Clade" was solid; a B. As a Holmes show, it was weak. As I've only seen it once, I really can't give it an in-depth critique (and at the moment I don't have the time), but I do wonder what Rob Doherty's arc for this season and the characters of Holmes and Watson for the series is, and did he tell the show's writers.

    1. Well, I agree that if we take it as a non-Sherlock Holmes show it could carry itself perhaps. But that is not what it is claiming to be, is it?
      I am hoping my disappointment will only be with a couple of episodes and it will all come together in the end. I do indeed hope all the things left hanging will bear fruit.

    2. Yes. In an interview with Lucy Liu on being cast as Watson she asked Rob Doherty if he wanted to call the characters something other than Holmes and Watson and he responded no, that he *was* writing Holmes and Watson. That indicated to me that he had definite plans for the Canonical characters. I do think that framing the story through "that drug mania which had threatened once to check his remarkable career" and actually showing the friendship grow on-screen week to week worked for the show.

      I have to disagree with B2B's assessment on Miller and Liu's acting. I've never been a fan of Liu's and the things I've seen her in have not impressed me. "Elementary" has shown me how really good she can be; I have been impressed. I think Miller's interpretation of Holmes has been very good, at times verging on the masterful. One of the things I've noticed is Miller's "nervous fingers" (SIGN, MISS, LADY, LAST), a little detail not always captured in others performances. I would prefer an "average" episode like "Clade" over "The Empty Hearse" where the main mystery of a 90 minute show exists in the last 15 minutes (I exclude John's kidnapping and near immolation as that is a side issue that Sherlock himself can't explain), and features a bomb with an off switch.

      End of part 1

    3. Part 2

      The weakness with "Clade" is not in the plot (whatever its deficiencies), but with the lack of "Sherlock-ness". Miller's interest in trepanning is a reflection of Holmes' outside interests, like old English charters, the Phoenician roots of ancient Cornish, or the motets of Lassus, but it would be nice to see something more Canonical. Miller's sponsorship of Randy, while maybe a reflection of real addiction recovery and important part of Sherlock's growth in the "Elementary" mythos, is a distraction to the Canonical Holmes you and I want, and expect, as Sherlockians to see on screen. Miller's erotica pen pal C is interesting but hard to fit with the Canonical Holmes. I get that "Elementary" wants to differentiate itself from the more homocentric "Sherlock" (the first two series featuring a sexually ambiguous Sherlock with the fans supplying the rest), but it seems at times to be pursuing its heterosexuality a bit too vigorously (Watson's geologist: "I'm Gay." Sherlock: "I'm not."; the hint in the previews for next week's show that Miller sleeps with a suspect as just two examples). While "Sherlock" loves to rub our faces in braggadocio Canonical minutiae, I'd like "Elementary" to throw us Sherlockians a bone more often. Let us know that "Elementary" is not SHINO (Sherlock Holmes In Name Only) as critics love to point out. "Elementary" has shown us many times they know the Canon, but don't save it just for "special" episodes where Moran, Moriarty, Mycroft or Lestrade show up.

      "The show is running out of steam pretty quickly" B2B writes. He said that last season also. The first season had an unifying arc: the friendship of Sherlock and Joan. Within that were several others; Sherlock eventual acceptance of recovery,the death of Irene Adler and the reveal of Moriarty. This season we're offered very little--Mycroft Holmes. He's more than a restauranteur, or so it is hinted, but we won't know more until season's end. Natalie Dormer is unavailable for the rest of the season, Doherty has confirmed, so all we're let with is one disappointed appearance that adds nothing to the show's mythos. The Bell/Sherlock contretemps has played out fairly quickly. We are left with the murder-of-the-week and as the show invested in an expensive morgue set quirky and potentially interesting cases hinted at in Sherlock's unsatisfying collaboration with not-Bell detectives on the NYPD will not be explored. "Elementary" keeps on plugging along with solid ratings ("CBS's sophomore drama Elementary delivered its largest audience and best adults 25-54 rating since last April, according to Nielsen live plus same day updated ratings for Thursday, Jan. 30." according to TV by the Numbers at so I don't think the pleas by a couple of fans of the show for more Sherlock Holmes in "Elementary" will be heeded by the powers-that-be.

    4. I agree that when JLM is acting Holmes he does a terrific job. I am very okay with LL as Watson and agree that this show is showing some of her best work.
      However, if the producers/writers/directors know the show may end up with guest actors being unavailable it should be planned into the writing.
      Most of us loved the RDJ movies, but not so much as Sherlock Holmes but as action movies. (Although most thought JL made a good Watson.)
      So, do we judge the shows/movies from a Sherlock Holmes point of view or good action movie.

      I always thought the RDJ movies made better James Bond's grandfather movies.

  3. It maybe that when the showrunners found out that Natalie Dormer had a limited and mid-season availability, the wrote "The Diabolical Kind" to capitalize on it. We ended up with a show that, if it didn't exist, it wouldn't be missed. Where's Ms. Hudson? I can't believe that Candis Cayne isn't available. Even if it's a cameo that doesn't have an impact on the case of the week, let's see her once in a while--not just once.

    At this point, the comparisons of "Elementary" to the Downey franchise is valid.

  4. After watching "His Last Vow", I'm feeling more sanguine about "Elementary". Not because "Vow" was soooo bad, but because there are many parallels to "Elementary" in "Vow"and "Elementary" comes off looking so much better. It was almost like they were doing one of their homages to other Sherlock Holmes movies like "Private Life" or "Pearl of Death". Here we get Cumberbatch using drugs ("I'm undercover on a case"--like that makes it okay. In TWIS Holmes makes clear to Watson that he wasn't using.) and acknowledgement from Mycroft (Gatiss) that this is a long-standing vice. The worst Cumberbatch suffers from is a few slaps from Molly. He even gets to enjoy a morphine drip latter on. Compared the the adult way "Elementary" handles it "Sherlock" makes it a wink-wink nudge-nudge lark. Cumberbatch has sex with Janine. Of course, she's the Agatha the maid character, so naturally he was using her (he'd let her know the truth after their wedding) and here it is as unsatisfying as in "Elementary". Fortunately for all the Johnlock fans, Freeman's over the top reaction to the reveal could be interpreted as a bit of jealousy. Like Irene Adler in "Elementary", "Sherlock" turns Mary Morstan into a CIA assassin. It's all okay with Freeman--that's what's been missing from his previous girlfriends; they've never killed anybody. She'll make a great asset to Sherlock and John. She can kill any criminal Sherlock can't put behind bars. That is, if he doesn't kill them first. The Irene-as-Moriarty on "Elementary" is light years more intelligently done.

    Yes, there are still problems with "Elementary", but Moffat and Gatiss has shown us just how good "Elementary" is.