Friday, April 11, 2014

"No Lack of Void" - S2, Ep20 - "Elementary" - a review

Much of what I have to say about this episode I could just cut and paste from last weeks review.

As with most to this seasons fare, the mystery is hardly what the show is about. It's weaknesses are the same, as are it's strength's .

Plot; While visiting the police station, Watson is asked to check on an ill prisoner.

The prisoner is found dead. A victim of anthrax poisoning.

The hunt begins, now joined by Sherlock, for the maker of the anthrax and to find his/her intention for it.

Seemed like the plot could develop into a very good story; anti-government anarchist ready to attack government officials would have been a more exciting story line, but intended murder of bovine hardly made the plot interesting (although, was a good twist on where everyone though it was going), nor did the brother killing brother provided anything new.

The solutions were more leg work than observation or deduction, and, again, much of it done by Watson.
For me, the fact that most of the science used in the deductions in Elementary are from Watson's knowledge as a doctor, and not Holmes own research or knowledge base is a little bit of a let down (although, at least in this episode, it was a pretty good mix). Maybe it is a way to keep Lucy Liu happy in the roll, I don't know. But I liked last week better for that reason.

The strong points in this episode were Miller's acting as the grieving friend.
As reviewer Genevieve Valentine  puts it; "the initial condescending distance, the forced pragmatism, the belief he can set things right by finding out the What Really Happened of it all, the spiral into acting out, and eventually the acceptance of responsibility and the first steps toward healing. It’s his addiction in a nutshell, mapped over grief."  Source

The scene where Liu's 'Watson', ( while listening to Holmes suggest ways to find the missing anthrax maker ), opens the mailbox and comes up with the solution was priceless and brought a chuckle.

I do have one math question though; It was suggested that the anthrax producer was 5'11' tall. I am about the same height. It was also stated by Holmes, unless I didn't hear correctly, and I listened several times, that the average stride of someone that tall was 1.8 meters.
My stride length is between 24 - 29 inches, less than a meter. If my stride were 1.8 meters it would be 5.9 feet. He would have to have been all legs.
I don't think my running stride is that long.
Did I hear wrong?

Although the acting was great by Miller in this one, the repetitive nature of the plot and lack of Holmesian traits makes me want to give this one only 


  1. That's what I thought I heard about the stride, too. I thought the mystery element started out strong, but at the 10:40 mark all the suspects are dead or eliminated except the farm-owning brother, obvious to the viewer but not to the characters. The interest of the show is Sherlock reaction to Alistair's death, not the missing anthrax. That's why Joan gets the observations and deductions. It is too bad they killed of Alistair. I would have liked to have seen more of him. I thought the way Sherlock handled the Alistair problem unSherlockian. Alistair has died before the episode opens. Sherlock has a mental conversation with Alistair, depicted, as is typical in movies and TV, as the physical presence of the character only another character can see; a "ghost", but as the dialogue states Sherlock is imaging Alistair. The viewer comes to find out that Alistair was a former drug addict who had been thirty years sober who died by O.D. Sherlock's imaginary conversations are a way to understand the "why" of Alistair's death and what it means for Sherlock's own future. Joan gives no comfort in her assessment: Once an addict, always an addict. Thirty year's sobriety means nothing. It would have been more in character to have Sherlock replay past recent interactions with Alistair in his head looking for clues as to what triggered his relapse. An omniscient Sherlock walking around in his memories of Alistair searching for motives for a return to drug use could have been very effective, but perhaps costly and time-consuming to film. However. it is easier to use common tropes when having to crank out 24 episodes a year. I was particularly disturbed by the scene at the cemetery. When Alistair "disappears", Sherlock looks around like "Where did he go?' A textbook example of how not to film such a scene. I agree, a three pipe episode.

    1. Still an improvement over 3/4 of the episodes, but not as good as we have been expecting these last few weeks.

  2. Another balanced review (unlike the one you have provided the link to).

    I started watching the episode, but lost interest after about 5 minutes.


    1. What did you not like about the other review?

    2. "Jonny Lee Miller has created a Sherlock Holmes that ranks among the best,..."

      That pretty much sums up everything. I guess the reviewer is entitled to her opinion. As the saying goes: "Each to his/her own".


    3. I appreciate the A.V Club's "Elementary" reviews, even if I don't always agree with them. Unlike me, John and yourself, they don't look at the show through a Sherlockian lens. We might not like some aspect because of its non-Sherlockian take, but the A.V. does like because they are watching it as an American TV drama and procedural. The different point-of view is useful. They have been critical of the show at times. They have a different set of criteria with which to judge the show. Because they liked this episode you find the review not balanced. Odd. You grudgingly allow them their opinion. Too bad you don't counter with a thoughtful and considered review as you used to.

    4. I think what James is say Buddy2Blogger, we miss your reviews and all the references you pointed out.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I stopped reviewing Elementary for 3 main reasons:

    1. In my humble opinion, JLM's version of Holmes is one of the worst ever.

    I personally like actors who have a distinct voice and/or diction. As John Watson mentions in The Hound of the Baskervilles: "That cold, incisive, ironical voice could belong to but one man in all the world."

    Vasily Livanov, Benedict Cumberbatch and Basil Rathbone all capture this Sherlockian characteristic very well. Even RDJ scored in this department, despite the other obvious shortcomings of his performance.

    As soon as JLM starts mouthing his dialogues, I just tune out. His body language, gesturing & mannerisms, tendency to take drugs even when handling cases and regularly sleeping with women make it hard for me to accept him as Sherlock Holmes in any shape or form.

    I have too much love for ACD's version of Holmes to like JLM's version.

    2. As bad as JLM is as Holmes (in my opinion), it does not help that the plots are predictable/uninteresting. Usually the guest star turn out to be the criminal/killer. There is not much of deductions done by JLM's Holmes. Even if they are present, it is often Joan who does the deductions. The cinematography, sets, costumes - all just reek of laziness... I can go on, but will just stop here.

    3. As a blogger, I try to present an objective perspective in my posts. This has become increasingly hard while writing Elementary reviews, due to several reasons (as indicated above). So to spare myself (and the readers) the pain of writing/reading my unfavorable take, I have stopped reviewing the CBS show.

    Thank You for the kind remarks. Much appreciated.


    1. Can't fault your argument. . . But we still miss ya'.