Friday, January 10, 2014

'Elementary' Season Two - Episode 13 - 'All in the family'

'Elementary' seems to have fallen into it's usual pattern. That being; Have one fairly bad show (last weeks) and follow it up with a better than normal show.
This weeks 'All in the Family' was a vast improvement over last weeks, but still not a great episode that makes you say, "Hey, I think they finally got it right." However, I think most of that has to do with our expectations.

The episode opens with Holmes and Watson in the interrogation room with I believe Detective Nash and a suspect named Riley. Holmes and Watson are about to prove Riley is behind a rash of thefts from an art auction house.
The main purpose of this scene was to show how Holmes and Watson are not working well with other detectives in the NYPD, and to also throw us a bone (leg bone, sort of) of a Canonical reference.
Once we find out that Holmes and Nash aren't going to get along well the main plot of the story takes over.
And the main plot is the return, thankfully, of Detective Bell.

Bell is sent to investigate a suspicious man observed entering a recycling center after hours, where he finds a headless, hand-less body inside of a barrel. At this point it becomes a homicide investigation and Holmes and Watson are called in.
Watson, because of a childhood fascination with mob crimes, identifies the body of as that of a long missing mob bosses son.
Thus starts the race by Gregson to head off a mob war.

Mostly the episode was about getting Bell back into the NYPD, and this was hidden under a back story of good cob going bad. The interactions between Holmes and Bell and their final confrontation was well done.

The episode was strong in the acting department. But again weak in the deduction/observation department. And, again, a little to over done (for me) in the "Watson being the detective" department.

I love the fact that Paul Sorvino was present as crime boss Robert Pardillo. Any show he takes part in is always upped a notch in my book.

It was good to have Bell back again.

Canonical references I caught were;

- The jewels in the artificial leg is a nod to SIGN.
- Trying to find the effects of an instrument or weapon on an animal carcass is a nod to BLAC.
- Holmes willingness to cut off a conversation because the other participant is lying (the Federal agent/web designer) shows up in several cases.
- Leaving late at night and not intending to return before dawn is a common Holmesian trait.
- Having a female accomplice in a jewel heist happened in BLUE
- Chemical experiments

I hope I missed some others.

Although this episode was a much better on than last weeks, it failed to have much appeal for me. (I never have liked mob connected shows that much anyway.)
Part of the problem lies with us expecting fantastic Holmesian deductions every week. (and we probably should). The mean problem lies in the fact that there is only so much Holmes can show us as Sherlockians that we have not already seen.
If we look back at the Canon, and this is going to be a research project for me soon, would we find that Holmes finds a vast assortment of varied observations or clues by the end of the books, or would we find that Holmes has found the same observations or clues in all the cases, but it is who leaves them or where they are found that really changes? In other words, how many times are foot prints used as clues? Or messages in newspapers? The mysteries change in every case, but does the type of clues or Holmes methods? Knowledge and observations are his greatest skills, and over the past hundred plus years, he has passed that knowledge and methods on to others.

What 'Elementary' is failing at, in my opinion, is making the finding of these clues and observations and deductions unique in a modern era of detective work. The Holmes of our beloved Victorian period has already taught our modern police forces his forensic methods, so now, the modern Holmes has to step up his game. Or should I say, the writers need to be more creative. All modern police forces now know to measure someones stride, or examine crime scenes for chemical clues. And, so far, 'Elementary' has not found a good way to do that. 'Sherlock' has managed to find away of presenting Holmes' methods as unique and different from his official contemporaries. Brett and Granada also found away to make each show unique, (and they did have the Victorian era).
'Elementary' has yet to find a way to do that.
I applaud the fact that 'Elementary' is exploring more of the man (even if we don't like the man they are exploring) and what makes him tick than some other adaptions. But they have yet to find the common ground between man and method and how to deliver what we have come to love about Holmes.
The show needs to move away from Holmes' personality and find a way to highlight his methods that are beyond those he works with.

And as far as Lucy Liu's Watson goes ( and I love Lucy), Holmes needs a sidekick, not a partner.

It is time, at least for a little while, to leave the back stories alone and get on with some really good 'Holmesian' stuff.

Although this show was a step up, I can only fairly give it 3 pipes out of 5. (Blogger is not uploading pictures for me right now, so I will add the graphic later.)


  1. I am in agreement with your review. I liked this episode more than last week's and there were a few thing, storytelling-wise, that I liked (such as the foreshadowing of the late pizza delivery guy that turned out to be...just a late pizza delivery guy. I'll bet they'll use that to advantage in a future episode). The opening case with the one-legged security guard was the kind of case I wish the show would do; a quirky mystery without a corpse. (I won't say "do more", as they've never do one.) However, "Elementary" spent big bucks on its new morgue set so I expect a lot of use fro it. I'm not bothered by Joan's knowledge of the Mafia. I thought the writers explained it well and it added a layer to Joan's interest in Sherlock's methods and why she would want to be a detective (I know they've done this before last season). I also agree with Sherlock's sentiments on the Mafia and why he wouldn't know much about them. Besides, I'm sure there were many home-grown criminals in England to worry about first.

    Excellent job on the Canonical references. B2B's apathy towards the show seems to have weakened his resolve to search for them carefully. This could have been written as a two-part episode as getting Bell back to the 11th precinct was accomplished a bit too quickly. The first half of part one could have explored the Nash/Holmes and Watson dynamic more and then segue in the the body in the barrel and end with suspicion falling on Da Silva. Part two could have been convincing Bell Da Silva was guilty and then trying to find the evidence to prove it. It also could have given the viewer more time with the guest stars. But then "All in the Family" reminds me of those first season shows where the A-story (the crime of the week) was really an excuse for the B-story (the evolution of the "Elementary" mythos).

    1. I agree with you about Bell coming back to quickly. I did like the interaction between Bell and Holmes, but it could have been stretched out a bit more. Thanks for your comments.