I am and remain a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. Right now is a great time to be a Holmes fan, since we’re getting so many visual variations of the great detective at the movies and on TV, as well as representation in books (shameless plug: I’m in a cool Holmes anthology, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets, out now).
Out of the two TV Holmes’ we have, I have a vast preference for the Johnny Lee Miller version we get weekly at CBS, Elementary. The third season is well underway, and the question is: can the show handle the changes the end of Season 2 gave us, which was Watson (Lucy Liu) going her own way and Holmes taking a job with MI6?
The answer is a happy “yes!” The show picks up several months after the end of Season 2 and the writing remains sharp, intelligent, and witty, and the characters remain true to who and what they are. Holmes is back, trying to find a way that works for him to apologize to Watson for how he left. Watson, meanwhile, has become an excellent investigator in her own right, and is still a consultant for the NYPD, interacting with Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) regularly. Holmes also has a new protégée, Kitty Winter (Ophelia Lovibond), who has a rather tragic past we discover as the show goes on.
Past events aren’t ignored, but the show is focused more on moving forward, which is far more interesting, in that Watson has a steady boyfriend, Holmes has made some strides in the personal relationships department, and Kitty is an interesting addition to the already great cast. It’s her backstory that we’re getting over the course of the season, which is a nice break from Holmes and Watson backstory and keeps the series fresh.
With Holmes having to work with Watson as equals, while also having Kitty as the next Detective In Training, we’re treated to some very interesting and intricate cases, with just the right amount of snarky wit we’ve come to expect. The NYPD has a slightly lesser role this season, but not always, and Gregson and Bell are still characters you want to see more of.
There appears to be a whole subset of fans who somehow think Kitty is working for Moriarty. I doubt it, since she’s clearly based on the Kitty Winter character from one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s short Holmes stories. I’m far more worried that Kitty’s going to do something terribly rash to a non-regular character and end up out of the series than that she’ll turn on Holmes and Watson. And I do care about this character, because she’s well written and well-acted.
I also rarely “ship” characters, but I’d love to see Watson and Bell end up as a couple, though I think it’s unlikely that the show runners will go there. However, I love both characters and how they work together and interact together, and I feel like Bell is potentially the only man who’s got a shot of being right for Watson, due to her personality and goals.
There’s been no mention of Mycroft Holmes so far, which is both right – he had to “disappear” at the end of Season 2 – and makes me think he’ll be coming back in sometime during sweeps or similar. The character is too good to never see again, at least in my opinion.
Basically, if you enjoyed the first two seasons of this show, you’ll be enjoying this one, too. If you haven’t given it a try, feeling that it can’t live up to the BBC’s Sherlock, dive in and give it a chance. I feel this show is far more true to the spirit of the characters Doyle created than Sherlock is, and while it doesn’t have Benny Batch in it, I prefer Miller all the way around anyway. His Sherlock has the brains, the twitch, and the humanity that the original Holmes possessed, which is why I love and continue to love Elementary.