Friday, March 11, 2016

Elementary S4-E16 - 'Hounded' - Once bitten, twice shy. . . . . or Love is in the air . . It should have been called 'GUS'.

  Okay, 'Elementary' had a chance here and, well, kinda missed the mark.
Hound of the Baskervilles is arguably the most well-known and the most popular tale in the Canon.
  So they had a lot to work with, and a lot of room to miss the mark. Which they did.
  Retelling the Hound is always going to be hard. You can either re-tell the story canonically, a great Gothic tale of mystery and murder, and be judged by how well you pull that off. 
  Or you can adapt it in a totally new way and, well, be judged by how well you pull it off.
  ‘Elementary’ with ‘Hounded’ didn’t seem to be able to make up its mind on which way it wanted to go and failed in both directions.

  The show opens with Holmes walking in on Hawes who is examining a new body at the morgue. Hawes’ work has been slipping of late and Holmes has come to point that fact out and if possible discover why.

  The show then cuts to Central Park and a man being chased through the woods by an unknown assailant. The man running stumbles of a cliff and is hit by a truck. Holmes discovers that there was someone else present and could be a possible witness.
  The man is Charles Baskerville.
  While Holmes works on finding out what is wrong with Hawes, Watson finds the witness, a homeless man, and discovers he saw a large wolf or small bear attack Charles.

  And so, without going over the whole show again, we have a murdered Baskerville, another who will inherit the fortune, but who doesn’t really need it, and the rest of the cast from the Canon.

 Where the episode falls apart is when it doesn’t either stay true to the original story and just retell it, and it also doesn’t come up with something new and unique in its telling.
  Mostly the episode is guilty of using as many clichés as possible without putting them into a well told story.

  The episode does however once again hit on timely topics, GMO’s and robots, but they could have done that without, perhaps better, using HOUN as the backdrop.

  The episode actually became more of a test to see how many HOUN clichés one could catch and not worry about the story line.

So, here are the ones I caught;

‘Sir’ Charles is chased down a narrow lane.
He dies of something other than the ‘beast, (canonically a heart attack, in this episode, a truck).

Henry Baskerville is the heir (as is apparently everyone else in the episode).

Part of the story takes place in Devonshire (Devonshire Robotics)

Watson is sent off to investigate on her own while Holmes goes elsewhere. (Her checking up on the witness while Holmes played chess).

A Stapleton is involved and related.

Hugo Baskerville (in this case a railroad baron).

Barrymore (this time working for Stapleton).(The name served no real purpose in the storyline.)

Miss Lyons (a Stapleton)

An unknown heir.

A glowing dog (this one a big pussy cat).

And also mentioned Canonically or from ACD;


Holmes mentions ‘The Woman’

 While it was fun to spot these, the story did not need any of them and would have probably made for a better episode without the HOUN connection, especially considering how much is expected once you connect it to the original story. (Hey 'Elementary', change the names and show it again.!)

  One of the things that have always made HOUN such great story is that Holmes is taken out of his perceived comfort zone, London, and sent, for him, to an alien environment, Dartmoor. Holmes we believe is a creature of the city, not comfortable in such a rural setting. (I am going to have a separate post for this discussion.)
  This episode failed to even attempt use that Gothic setting to its advantage. The location is as much a part of HOUN as is anything else. It is the sinister nature of the enviornment that sets the tone (I know; Central Park at night isnt' scary enough for you?) The story should have gone to New Jersey or some where else.

  Another flaw in the episode was the fact that everyone loved each other, for the most part.
  Henry loved Charles, Stapleton loved the Baskervilles. Barrymore, while maybe not loving Stapleton at least didn’t mind having drinks with him.
Stapleton loved, well, women.
The dog loved Charles.

 Okay maybe Ms. Lyons didn’t love everyone, but she should have because her plot line was really bad.
  We were never told how Roger mistreated her father, the hippie, the one who moved to Australia. I thought hippies did that kind of thing. A free and open life.
  She had a great job. Didn’t it pay well? And just like in the Canon, why didn’t she just ask to be part of the family? Everyone loved each other. They would have made her feel welcome.

  And instead of calling this episode 'HOUNded', maybe we should call it 'GUS', after the robotic dog. I don’t claim to know much about the physics of robots but I don’t see a machine like that being able to maneuver like it did in the park at night in such a rough terrain. A tracked vehicle would have trouble unless it was the size of a small tank.

 The side story with Hawes was well done and showed some growth on Miller’s Holmes part.
  The acting was still strong by the leads. The extras didn't carry enough weight, once again considering the source.

  I know, at this point I am starting to sound like Brad (I feel dirty) but in this case he may have a point. I will check to see if he has any thoughts on this episode after I post this.

 The episode did however live up to this season, and, compared to the last few seasons, it remained strong. It did not however take advantage of its source material which set it up as a failure.

It would be akin to setting Mutiny on the Bounty on a pontoon boat.

The weakest episode of this season.

Because of its poor treatment of HOUN I can only fairly give it;


  1. I do respectfully have to disagree. It is hard to do justice to a novel, especially one as populated as HOUN, in one hour. Could "Elementary" have done this as a two part episode and thus make it more atmospheric and Gothic and give the secondary characters more screen time and a fuller presence? Of course; that's a fair criticism. In fact, "Elementary" might even work better if it were a 90-minutes, along the lines of "Colombo" (or dare I say "Sherlock"?)? Sure, but that's not how network TV works these days and it is unfair to judge a show against what one wishes it were.

    So, for a one-hour version of HOUN, fitted within the "Elementary" framework, I think they did an admiral job, one that couldn't overcome time constraints but picked and chose those elements of the novel they could work with (one you've pointed out above) and mixed them with the shows' timely use of genetic food and animal modification, patent stealing and robotics as clues and red-herrings and did them well.

    As my space is limited, let me concentrate on two points: You can find videos on YouTube right now of GUS-like robots. TV show always take cutting-edge technology and advance it a few years so that syndicated episodes do not seem dated or date so quickly. GUS, in fact is more "right now" than the killer robot mosquito, but the KRM is more real that a certain Peorian blogger would have you believe.

    My second point: Is criticizing "Elementary" for name-checking the Canon and Doyle a valid critique when "Elementary" is also knocked for not using Canon material? Shall we ask Cpl. Lyons or lover's-lane masher Mr. Seldon of BBC's "The Hounds of Baskerville"? When "Sherlock" throws a Canonical name on any old character--such as Doyle's famous British lesbian dominatrix or ADHD children's TV show actor--there are no comments, except perhaps how brilliant the fanboy showrunners are. When "Elementary" does it, it's called rote name checking.

    So, could have "Hounded" been better? Sure. "Ears To You" is "Elementary's" best foray into Canon retelling, but my opinion is three-and-a-half to four pipes. Don't be Brad-washed.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. You said; "When "Sherlock" throws a Canonical name on any old character--such as Doyle's famous British lesbian dominatrix or ADHD children's TV show actor--there are no comments, except perhaps how brilliant the fanboy showrunners are. When "Elementary" does it, it's called rote name checking."

      I have commented my dislike on both of these in the past, so I don't see your point.

    3. Ouch! Brad-washed.
      My opinions were my own. And I stick by them.
      There was nothing HOUN about this show other than the names. I am note criticizing the show for name checking, but for missing entirely all the points that make HOUN a fun read.
      My opinion was on what it could/should have been and not just the status-qou (which is a good status-qou this year) this season has become.
      I did not knock it for using Canon material, but for not doing it justice. I am not one who knocks the show for, as you say, 'name-checking', nor do I say it is okay for 'Sherlock' to do it and not 'Elementary'. I did find 'Hounded' better the Sherlock's version of HOUN, but still not what it should be.
      I have defended the Moriarty in 'Elementary' while stating how much I dislike the Moriarty in Sherlock, so I don't think that paragraph of your response is fair.
      I went into episode with high hopes and it left me flat.
      Change all the names in the episode and it would hardly have been HOUN.

      I can't argue your point about how good robots are or are not (and may check out your suggestion to check out youtube on the matter) but I found the a weak devise.(the Boston Dyanmics ones are pretty cool.)
      When you are going to advertise that you are actually going to base the next episode on a specific story you better come up with something better than standard fair.
      I also stated that the episode was staying within the higher standards this season has been having, but still do not feel it made a good HOUN. It made for a good 'Elementary' but not HOUN. Maybe we should be happy with that.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Let me say you make fair rebuts, even on your removed comment, so 1) I *do* know you form your own opinions on an episode independent of others and that you do not read other reviews before you write your own. I did not mean to imply otherwise and apologize if I unintentionally did so. I respect your opinion.

    2) However, I must disagree with: "The episode actually became more of a test to see how many HOUN clichés one could catch and not worry about the story line." If this were "Sherlock", clichés would be called Easter Eggs and the amount of Eggs one finds would be proof of how Moffat and Gatiss know and love their Canon. The staff of "Elementary" are never seen in that light, in part due a negative internet campaign (uncoordinated, by BBC fans and others) that started before the CBS show aired. It has, I submit, unwitting colored the Holmesian-connected community. Despite the fact that the BBC makes untold millions off of "Doctor Who", "Top Gear", and "Sherlock" (untold because the BBC won't release the numbers), shows and merchandise, worldwide, it is CBS that is seen as the crass exploiter of Doyle's work--and CBS makes a lot less money from "Elementary" than the BBC does on "Sherlock".

    3) I also disagree with: "Change all the names in the episode and it would hardly have been HOUN." Rich Joe Smith is chased by, what one witness called, a glowing beast and in his attempted escape, dies. Joe's rich brother Harry hires Sherlock and Joan. Harry is the last Smith left and is to inherit all. It turns out he is next targeted by the glowing beast. Fellow rich business man Fred Jones, who is linked to the beast, turns out to be a secret cousin of Joe and Harry Smith. Twist: Turns out that Fred Jones Smith is not behind the beast but Fred's coworker Maggie Washington who is the illegitimate daughter of the late Carl Smith, who died in a distant part of the globe, came back incognito arranged Joe's death and after the apparent death of Fred at the hands of Harry comes out of the woodwork to claim the Smith estate as the last surviving Smith. That doesn’t scream "Hound of the Baskervilles" to you?

    Now it is more than fair for you to say the elements of HOUN used by the show didn't work for you. I agree the secondary characters were not develop enough (aside from semi-recurring character M.E. Hawes) and the Gothic elements were neglected and I do appreciated "The episode did however live up to this season, and, compared to the last few seasons, it remained strong." It seems pretty much impossible for an hour show to do justice to HOUN when big-budget feature movies can fail. I find GUS a credible modern-day hound update as well as setting the story, not in the milieu of the moor, but in the morally desolate world of big business one that works for American-set "Elementary".

    The truth is our opinions on this episode are probably close, except it worked for me as a HOUN retelling and it didn't for you.

    1. Your points are very valid.
      The problem for me was, with them advertising it the week before as an episode based on a specific story they were setting themselves up for greater expectations.
      The episode lacked the rich Gothic rural feel for me, and also did not sell the back story of any one involved.
      You are probably right in that it should have been done over two episodes. It would have indeed been interesting to see how they would have handled Joan's babysitting of Sir Henry at Baskerville Hall. They could have at least gone to New Jersey!
      Considering I have really enjoyed this season, and have stated such, for me to feel one episode did not measure up is not such bad thing.
      HOUN is so much more than just the names (and where was Sheldon), and this for me just did not measure up.

  4. "Henry loved Charles, Stapleton loved the Baskervilles. Barrymore, while maybe not loving Stapleton at least didn’t mind having drinks with him.
    "Stapleton loved, well, women.
    "The dog loved Charles." Now we can add two more to the list.

    Anyway, I do look forward to watching the episode again. I also wonder, with Sherlock mention "The Woman" and Irene claiming to have been held by "Mr. Stapleton" and there were Stapletons in this episode, whether this episode will be linked to an upcoming episode because...SPOILER ALERT...

    the writers have tweeted a picture of a script with Jamie Moriarty in it. Is Natalie Dormer returning?

    1. I hope she returns. That story arc was still very open.

    2. If you'll pardon me this little bit of humor: "and where was Sheldon," he was on earlier in the evening on "The Big Bang Theory", however "Elementary's" Seldon was the overweight man who had sent threatening emails to Charles and had the picture of the Army wardog. Interestingly, he could be seen as a comment on Victorian Mycroft in "The Abominable Bride". Seldon mention to Sherlock and Joan that he went to a comedy club with his sister and became the target of every comedian that went on stage. "Fat-shaming is the last acceptable form of prejudice," he railed. A remark directed at BBC "Sherlock" for the comically obese Gatiss in the fat-suit eating himself to death?

    3. I can't believe I missed Sheldone! My bad.
      I didn't like the way Mycroft was in Abominable Bride. Thought it should a lot of disrespect for the Canon and over-weight people.