Fall TV Preview

Fall TV First Impression: CBS' Elementary Finds a Holmes in New York City

The broadcast networks have more than 20 shows debuting this fall, including a Revolution-ary drama from J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke, a Nashville home for Connie Britton and a new comedy from Friends‘ Matthew Perry. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions based on the not-for-review pilots.

Next up on our list….

THE SHOW | CBS’ Elementary (Thursdays, 10/9c)

THE COMPETITION | Scandal (ABC), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia/The League (FX), Rock Center With Brian Williams (NBC)

THE CAST | Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone), Lucy Liu (Southland) and Aidan Quinn (Prime Suspect)

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THE SET-UP | Miller, here getting to keep his British accent, is Sherlock Holmes, a onetime homicide detective for Scotland Yard and recovering addict now serving as a consultant for the NYPD. Liu plays Joan Watson, a surgeon-turned-sober companion hired by Holmes’ father to keep him away from his smack of choice, while Quinn is Sherlock’s police liaison, Capt. Tobias “Toby” Gregson.

RELATED | Get TVLine’s First Impressions of ABC’s Last Resort and The CW’s Arrow

THE FIRST IMPRESSION | With Sherlock currently wowing the crowds on BBC One (and Stateside via PBS), the challenge for CBS was to cook up its own take on the iconic sleuth, ergo the NYC trappings and the gender switch for his No. 1. And while Miller’s Sherlock is every bit as cocksure and brusque as the one played by Benedict Cumberbatch across the pond (or Robert Downey Jr.’s big-screen incarnation), that doesn’t make his performance any less entertaining. (That said, while plenty colorful — and plentifully tattooed — he comes off as perhaps 20 percent less “alien” than Sherlock‘s Holmes.) Though Liu is in most every scene with Miller, Watson is required to spend the pilot being taken aback by her ward’s eccentricities and prowess and having her own inner demons sussed out by his hyper-observational skills; as such, she is only allowed an instance or two to “pop” in her own right. (And while I won’t judge her New York Mets fandom, I will choose to look sideways at her matter-of-factly receiving a cell phone call in an underground subway car. Possible? Sure. But rare.) Nonetheless, Liu shows signs of proving a good match for Miller; surely her character will be fleshed out now that the initial groundwork has been laid.
     To those proactively cringing at the idea of Elementary playing a Will They/Won’t They thing ‘tween Holmes and Watson, you will find zero indication of that being on the books; the “warm” closing exchange of the trailer posted below is not an accurate edit. We can only hope the inevitable cadre of ‘shippers don’t get carried away.

RELATED | Fall TV First Impression: Shawn Ryan’s Last Resort Makes a Splash

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | There’s no mystery here — Elementary is poised to be another hit for CBS. Sharing DNA with (and co-opting a time slot from) that super-observant Mentalist and on the same network that just revived Unforgettable‘s details-obsessed Carrie Wells, the Sherlock Holmes branding is but icing on the cake (or cream on the trifle). Meanwhile, the competitive landscape presents a two-horse race, with ABC’s juicy/buzzy (and yet somewhat unproven) Scandal the only major contender and Elementary enjoying a beefier lead-in (Person of Interest aka last season’s most-watched freshman drama).

Watch a video preview for Elementary, then vote in our poll below.