TV Show: Elementary

TV is my crack.

Rachel McAdams (actress)

You all know I am a huge TV and movies fan. I actually spend a lot of time everyday sitting in front of the TV, watching whichever TV show or movie I am really focused on that day or week. Or you could say, I’m obsessed and my evenings spent watching up to six 40-minutes long episodes of crime TV shows are insane. However you want to see it, TV and movies make me happy. So, I have decided to start reviewing the crime TV shows that I love the most and that will, generally, include a woman investigator. If they do not include one, I will probably come here to rant about it anyways. So, I declare my Crime fiction > TV/Movies section inaugurated!

Elementary (2012 – present) is “[a] modern take on the cases of Sherlock Holmes, with the detective now living in New York City” according to its IMDB page. The series star Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson. Yes, you read it right: for the first time on a Sherlock Holmes adaptation, Watson is actually a woman, and not only that, but one with Asian ancestry. Holmes, on the other hand, remains the English detective he has always been, only this time, he has moved to New York City. The following review explores characters and diversity of representation and contains a major spoiler from season 2

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I had known about Elementary for a long time, but I had stayed away from watching it from season 1 because I thought a modern, American and light take on my favourite detective would not suit me. How wrong I was! A few weeks ago I ran out of shows to watch and I decided to give it a go. So, I got seasons 1 and 2 and started to spend my nights with these new Holmes and Watson. I do not know why, but I had expected this female Watson to be a sidekick, someone who nursed, took care and helped Holmes be the main character and genius he is. I have to admit, I was partly right: Dr. Joan Watson is an abstinence assistant, which means that she comes into Holmes’ life to help him fully recover from his heroin addiction. However, as the show progresses, she becomes a complete character and I was really happy to learn about her past. No wonder it takes her and Liu some episodes to fully develop the character! Watson has never been much explored as a character and even less as a woman and a highly-regarded (ex) surgeon. So, in order for Joan to become a likable, complex and strongcharacter, the audience needs to sit with her some episodes. Don’t worry, it will eventually pay off.

Heroine

And she will tell Holmes what he needs to hear every once in a while:

Holmes, on the other hand is quite a departure from other TV shows even though modern productions insist on making Holmes act very much as if he were Sheldon Cooper (and suffered from Asperger’s syndrome). Miller’s Holmes openly addresses his heroin addiction and the show makes a great job at portraying how difficult it is for an addict to recover and how that recovery depends 99% on him. But, he remains the genius, the over-stimulated child who pestered his parents and has grown to be an awkward middle-aged man with an asocial behavior that he tries to moderate. This Holmes is more vulnerable and open about his awkwardness than others that I have seen and, unlike Sherlock’s Sherlock, sometimes he is not proud of being a misfit.

Step Nine

And She needs her own paragraph. She, being THE woman and my personal favourite, Irene Adler. I really liked what they did with her in Sherlock Holmes (the movie) where she was played by Rachel McAdams, although I found her a little bit bland. Sherlock‘s Adler (Laura Pulver) a dominatrix that is blackmailing the Royal Family was much more of my taste. In Elementary, Adler (Natalie Dormer) is dead and much related to Holmes’ fall, but she still plays a role, one that will satisfy Holmes’ fans, nonetheless. I personally have Elementary‘s Adler as my favourite in the modern adaptations of the Canon. “At last “- I thought – “here is an Adler that makes me feel like the one I met reading ‘A Scandhal in Bohemia’.” Her appearance not only as someone who totally fooled Holmes, but as the incarnation of a female James (Jamie) Moriarty has become my favourite twist on a crime TV show. I always thought that Adler was much more than one character in one of Holmes’ cases and Elementary has taken her, and her power to where they really need to be. Also, high-five to whoever thought of making Adler and Moriarty the same character and – finally! – creating a female Moriarty. Just flawless.

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As for the cases, there were quite a few that rang a bell, but the adaptations are not as direct as in the BBC’s Sherlock. Elementary has less time per episode and more time to fill in a year that Sherlock, and that makes up for some good and some mediocre episodes. Meanwhile, the series is slowly incorporating Sherlock Holmes’ traditional characters. One who deserves a mention is Ms. Hudson (Candis Cayne), here portrayed as a transsexual who lives her life as the lover of powerful and rich men. Lestrade is substituted by Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn), who appeared in ‘A Study in Scarlett’ and who is more benevolent with Holmes’ grey areas than Lestrade was in the Canon. Lestrade appears in a few episodes, but as a secondy and minor character. As for new additions, Jon Michael Hill plays Detective Marcus Bell, a young African-American who, like Liu’s Watson needs a few episodes to fully reveal himself as a likable character.

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Elementary is, then, a modern and much more diverse take on the famous English detective and his pals. I was really glad to see some racial, gender and sexual diversity in the new characters and I do hope season 3 keeps innovating and including more aspects of a not-anymore white and English setting and state of affairs.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Heroines

Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

I love some good, strong women in literature, don’t you?

1.- Irene Adler from A Scandhal in Bohemia.- THE woman, one of the two people who could cheat Sherlock Holmes. Need to say more?

2. Marian Halcombe from The Woman in White.- The opposite of weak, always-fainting Laura (or the quintessential Victorian lady)

3.- Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire.- She is not a heroine in the typical sense but she’s a survivor and I admire her for that.

4.- Grace from Alias Grace.- I don’t if many of you would call her a heroine, but she’s definitely a tough girl and one of the most complex characters I’ve explored.

5.- Edna Pontellier from The Awakening.- She was subversive, tough and fought for the only thing she wanted. That’s a heroine for me.

6.- Joanna Mason from When Will there be Good News? .- Another survivor, someone who knows life is worth living. Here is one of my favourite quotes from the book:

No, not those kinds of things. I mean the way we live our lives. There isn’t a template, a pattern that we’re supposed to follow. There ‘s no one watching us to see if we’re doing it properly, there is no properly, we just make it up as we go along.

7.- Daisy Bucannan from The Great Gatsby.- She is not heroine at all, but she managed to move and manipulate two powerful men. That’s a lot of power for a 1920’s stay-at-home mom and wife, right?

8.- The Schlegel Sisters from Howards End.- I fell in love with these two sisters when I read the book. They somehow see the good in life and actively manage their own lives.

9.- Jenny Cooper from The Coroner.- What can I say about her? When interviewing the author, I just have to tell him I’d love to be friends with Jenny and I honestly looked up at her. A 40 year-old woman struggling yet incredibly capable… of everything.

10.- Lisbeth Salander from the Millenium series.- I only read the first installment but I love her. It reminds me of underrated women out there who people think not capable of anything yet they are pure geniuses!

30 Day Book Meme – Day 27

Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy                                                                                          Day 06 – A book that makes you sad                                                                                                 Day 07 – Most underrated book                                                                                                        Day 08 – Most overrated book                                                                                                            Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving                                                                                                                                                      Day 10 – Favorite classic book                                                                                                            Day 11 – A book you hated                                                                                                                     Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore                                                                     Day 13 – Your favorite writer                                                                                                                 Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer                                                                                 Day 15 – Favorite male character                                                                                                         Day 16 – Favorite female character                                                                                                    Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book                                                                            Day 18 – A book that disappointed you                                                                                             Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie                                                                                  Day 20 – Favorite romance book                                                                                                   Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood                                                                                  Day 22 – Favorite book you own                                                                                                         Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t                                       Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read                                                       Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most                                                                  Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something                                                       Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending Any Sherlock Holmes, as usual. I actually remember The Hound of the Baskervilles‘ as a surprising ending yet such a logical one that I was pretty hard on myself for not having figured it out! Also, in A Scandhal in Bohemia I was so happy Sherlock was fooled for the first time… and by such an intelligent woman as Irene Adler! But also, I think The Woman in White is worth mentioning, but I did see some of the twits coming (does anyone really believe Count Fosco’s intentions?).

I think it’s hard to find modern detective novels with such twits. I read quite a few ones where the ending was too predictable. Does this happen to you?

30 Day Book Meme – Day 25

Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy                                                                                          Day 06 – A book that makes you sad                                                                                                 Day 07 – Most underrated book                                                                                                        Day 08 – Most overrated book                                                                                                            Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving                                                                                                                                                      Day 10 – Favorite classic book                                                                                                            Day 11 – A book you hated                                                                                                                     Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore                                                                     Day 13 – Your favorite writer                                                                                                                 Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer                                                                                 Day 15 – Favorite male character                                                                                                         Day 16 – Favorite female character                                                                                                    Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book                                                                            Day 18 – A book that disappointed you                                                                                             Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie                                                                                  Day 20 – Favorite romance book                                                                                                   Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood                                                                                  Day 22 – Favorite book you own                                                                                                         Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t                                       Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read                                                       Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most This is a tough one! I’d say Sherlock Holmes because both of us need to find the logic and the correct reasons behind everything. I find it hard to leave something unexplained yet, I’m not as obsessive as he is! But, I probably feel identified with him because I grew up reading his cases and it kind of modelled my character (also, my Philosophy teacher in high school was a House MD/Sherlock Holmes mix and he was a huge influence).

However, I sometimes feel identified with characters that are not similar to me. For example, when I read The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown I felt identified with Bianca “Bean” and I assure you I’m not like her… not that much, at least.

30 Day Book Meme – Day 17

Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy                                                                                          Day 06 – A book that makes you sad                                                                                                 Day 07 – Most underrated book                                                                                                        Day 08 – Most overrated book                                                                                                            Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving                                                                                                                                                      Day 10 – Favorite classic book                                                                                                            Day 11 – A book you hated                                                                                                                     Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore                                                                     Day 13 – Your favorite writer                                                                                                                 Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer                                                                                 Day 15 – Favorite male character                                                                                                         Day 16 – Favorite female character                                                                                                    Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book I don’t really have A favourite book. I think a 19th century novel cannot be compared to a postmodern novel or a graphic novel. Also, I’m not good at memorizing quotes: they are terribly meaningful when I read them, but then I forget. However, this one always sticks with me:

“To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name.” – Dr. Watson, A Scandhal in Bohemia (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Then, doing some reserach I googled my favourite books and found the following quotes:

“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.”- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

“Life’s a nasty habit”- Bean from The Weird Sisters (Eleanor Brown)

“Go and see what might be. Before it’s too late” – The Weird Sisters (Eleanor Brown)

“How old were you when you first realized your parents were human?” – The Weird Sisters (Eleanor Brown)

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” – Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)

“They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word.” – Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)

 

30 Day Book Meme – Day 16

Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy                                                                                          Day 06 – A book that makes you sad                                                                                                 Day 07 – Most underrated book                                                                                                        Day 08 – Most overrated book                                                                                                            Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving                                                                                                                                                      Day 10 – Favorite classic book                                                                                                            Day 11 – A book you hated                                                                                                                     Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore                                                                     Day 13 – Your favorite writer                                                                                                                 Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer                                                                                 Day 15 – Favorite male character                                                                                                         Day 16 – Favorite female character Irene Adler! I know that the three last posts mention Sherlock Holmes and/or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but I’m such a fan! I think that she is one of the strongest, most independent and most intelligent female characters I’ve read about. Also, the fact that she is the woman because she was one out of the two people who could fool Sherlock Holmes, constructed as a hero, makes her pretty special. So, when I read she was to be played by the lovely Rachel McAdams on Guy Ritchie’s movie, I couldn’t be happier. Then, I saw the movie and how she had to be saved by Sherlock and how she has lost all the power she had in A Scandhal in Bohemia and she wasn’t the same, yet I really liked her in the first half of the movie. I think I kind of have an obsession with her (after all you can follow me at @ms_adler) but it’s a healthy one, no stealing or cheating for me!

I also like A Streetcar Named Desire‘s Blanche Dubois: I think she is a multi-dimensional character. She can be sexy, intelligent, tortured, a monster and also a victim. But she remains strong and eventually, she manages to survive.

30 Day Book Meme – Day 15

Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy                                                                                          Day 06 – A book that makes you sad                                                                                                 Day 07 – Most underrated book                                                                                                        Day 08 – Most overrated book                                                                                                            Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving                                                                                                                                                      Day 10 – Favorite classic book                                                                                                            Day 11 – A book you hated                                                                                                                     Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore                                                                     Day 13 – Your favorite writer                                                                                                                 Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer                                                                                 Day 15 – Favorite male character Sherlock Holmes! As I’ve said, he is so logical, scientific and passionate that I find it impossible not to love him. I also admire how calm he remains in every ocassion and how intelligent he is. However, I don’t like how he plays with Dr. Watson (see The Hound of the Baskervilles) despite his loyalty. Just recently, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock, played by Robert Downey Jr., was a funny re-interpretation of the famous detective I really liked. Also, the BBC is producing a series where Sherlock is a 21st century young man. What I like about both of them is that they keep Sherlock funny and his showing off when he solves a case. However, Ritchie’s costumes and Jude Law’s interpretation of Dr. Watson are my favourite adaptation.