Elementary Review: Name Rings A Bell

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The second episode of a new series is where you have to worry. Allow me to explain.

As a rule, the networks approve a new show based on the pilot. However, a lot of shows will make revisions or additions when they go into regular productions, which start with (you guessed it) the second episode.

I've seen some very promising pilots make some horrible choices once they move past the opening episode. So I was glad to see that "While You Were Sleeping" featured only some minor changes to the formula I enjoyed so much on the Elementary premiere. In fact, I only saw two significant tweaks - and both turned out to be good choices. 

Holmes Gets Up Close

Detective Marcus Bell – Many may ask why they needed a different detective aside from Det. Abreu. First, Bell is a more memorable character out of the gate. I’m not saying that Abreu couldn't have become one, but he didn't start off as strong as he needed to be.  

Second, Bell is presented with much more experience and knowledge than Abreu possessed. This, in turn, allowed for the expected conflict between him and Holmes over the evidence/facts. And let’s face it, Holmes showing up the police and proving them wrong is one of the staples of the franchise. Before you flame me, I realize he did it a little with Abreu last Thursday, but they didn't really disagree or argue the way he did with Bell. 

Additionally, I have a suspicion that Jon Michael Hill's (Bell) race/heritage was considered to be a better choice for the character (or missing from the show). Regardless if was or not, I’m absolutely sure his experience playing a cop on Detroit 1-8-7 was a major deciding factor given how well he does it.

The Violin – Go ahead and try to tell me you didn't cheer just a little when Watson walked out with the violin. Yeah, I did too. I can’t remember any version of Sherlock Holmes not having a violin. His instrument resulted in one of the better Elementary quotes, too, as Watson and Holmes bumped heads. 

Once more, someone was thinking ahead and decided to tie a bigger story to it, thanks to the tears when he opened the case. I can’t wait till we find out more about the history of that violin and why he stopped playing. I wonder exactly how much of what makes Holmes tick we are going to get to learn. 

There were a few other minor additions that could be new or just normal add-ons from the second episode, such as Watson’s ex-boyfriend and life prior to meeting Holmes. 

I like the show as much this week as I did after watching the pilot. Watson and Holmes are going through some typical growing pains of deciding how much they can trust each other and how much they can share with each other. And, of course, Holmes was brilliant as ever. I think I might be developing a serious man-crush on Jonny Lee Miller.

The only minor disappointment from this episode was that after reviewing Hawaii Five-0 and CSI for so long I figured out that the sister was in a fake coma and that Holmes and Bell’s scuffle was staged to flush her out. However, I was surprised that it was the doctor and not the other sister. 

What did you think of the second offering? Did you like the addition of Detective Bell? 


Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (86 Votes)

Jim G. is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


The kitchen in the brownstone was different after the pilot. In the pilot it was a pokey room; afterwards it was an open kitchen with room to sit and eat etc.


Where is Basil Rathbone when you need him. I gave this show a second look because I thought surely the first one was a bad joke but nope, this one even sillier. So will be a hit without me.


I came to this hoping for something on the order of, but different from, the BBC's Sherlock, which was foolish. Sherlock was meant to be something quite special—it's not a regular series, but a mini-series of full length movies. Just three a season, so quite a bit goes into it. Elementary, on the other hand, is a weekly series on a broadcast network, subject to all the pressures and corner cutting and other forces Sherlock is shielded from. Best that can be hoped for is that it's a good police procedural. The problem is that by making the protagonists Watson and Holmes in modern dress—even if Sherlock didn't exist—you set up the expectation in viewers for something very special. I can only hope the writers bring in the bits and pieces of the classic Conan Doyle Holmes in unusual and different ways—as they did with Holmes ambiguity towards his violin—and build their own original take on Holmes and Watson. Something that's promising is that Lucy Liu's Watson isn't just there to be amazed by Holmes; she contributes more of her medical expertise, for example, the coma test this week. And she is resolutely unimpressed by him, cutting him no slack for his abilities, something no one seems to have noticed and which I think is a definitely new element in the Holmes/Watson dynamic.


@joyeful I agree with you completely. I thought it was delightful. I caught that empathy nuance as well and thought it was a great touch. I like the chemistry Watson and Holmes are slowly building. They're slow playing it which is more realistic to me. The slow path towards a genuine friendship. I think both actors aren't getting enough credit for how well there doing from those who are insistent on disliking the series just because. Let it stand in its own.


I think my favourite scene of the episode was when Holmes took the PI outside and called him out on his meth addiction to get what he wanted. He then recommended a rehab place out of sincerity and empathy. THEN, when the PI went inside, there was a second where Holmes looked genuinely puzzled, like he wasn't even sure why he said what he said or where the empathy came from. BRILLIANT work by JLM. I think this is definitely one of those "eye of the beholder" shows. It fascinates me how many different opinions there are of the same characters and the same show. I actually like it. I wish people would compare it to the books and not just other TV shows/movies. Comparing House to Sherlock Holmes is a bit unfortunate since House was based on Holmes. I feel like if they're similar, that actually is a compliment to both. If you've read the books, Sherlock is an arrogant, condescending asshole addict. His only redemption is his brilliance and the fact that Watson likes him; you think that if Watson could like him, surely there's something likeable.


Love this new version--I am a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and love the BBC Sherlock series-- and will definitely continue to watch. I love how they are taking the mythology and making it their own. Best pilot/ second ep I have seen in ages.


Loved this show.wlll definitely keep watching


Last episode for me too. Hopes were dashed completely that the US version of a modern Sherlock Holmes would be worth watching. Alas, Watson is a boring busybody and Holmes is a deliberate jerk! He's like a kid setting fire to anthills for amusement. None of them have any likeable traits and in the original stories as well as various adaptations done so far, Holmes may be quite eccentric but still a sympathetic character. Watson was always a competent doctor and helper and a very likeable character.


Last week I complained about Holmes' twitchiness and Watson's downer. No improvement. He just comes across as a druggie, which I assume is actually what is supposed to show, but it predicts that he'll have at least one major relapse and then we'll have all that drama, and I don't want to watch a druggie - House pretty much covered that scene, and I got mightily tired of it. There was a lot of good show around the "House steals/cheats/lies/manipulates/defies/double-crosses to get pills" issue, and Elementary doesn't have anything else going on to make up for Holmes' annoying personality. This story was pretty clever, but it wasn't a knockout. Hard to see what they can do to keep me watching.


Jennifer, Your right, they did seem to have Miller slow down his dialog just a little. It was subtle enough that I didn't notice right away but now that you mention it I can see it.. nice catch!

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Elementary Season 1 Episode 2 Quotes

Watson. OH MY GOD, WHAT THE HELL?!?! Ty I'm going to have to call you back.
Sherlock: You're right about a stress relief, I felt like Jimi Hendrix for a second there.
Watson: You didn't have to do that?
Sherlock: Ty, funny name that, noun, verb, nationality, food.

Watson: She really got you, huh?
Sherlock: Lefty caught me by surprise. This one, leathery from slaps. This one's a baby's bottom.