I’ve been slowly making my way through the first season of Elementary since Hulu added the show to their streaming service. Currently, I’m a little over half way through the first season. I like the BBC’s Sherlock, but if we’re talking purely character and my emotional investment, then Elementary wins hands down. Miller’s Holmes comes off as a more honest portrayal of a human being. I buy that’s he’s super-smart and has a distant father, both of which make it more difficult for him to relate to people. Even though she’s not fresh from a war, Lucy Liu comes off as more genuinely wounded than Martin Freeman’s veteran. Miller and Liu is just a much more engaging relationship, and I like that there’s no hint of a hook-up. I like the actual use and acknowledgment of Holmes’s drug addiction, which most modern adaptations gloss over. The main problem for me with Moffat’s Sherlock is the same problem I have with most of Moffat’s writing. His writing often comes off as smarty pants, like he’s gloating over the audience and showing off--Quiet, children, the adults are talking. (Not to mention he has a terrible narrative sense, hammers multiple episodes worth of plot into ten minute resolutions, and is just kind of awkward writing actual human beings.)
My problem with Elementary though is the cases are so utterly forgettable. It's all stuff we've seen before. I want cases from clients. I want big, epic cases that only Holmes can solve. Even with the smarty pants writing that can be so often off-putting, that’s the thing Sherlock has over Elementary in spades. So far first season the mystery of the week has left me cold. It’s all so forgettable except for the episode called “M,” then only because of the character focus and motivation. Every case has been through the police which is quickly becoming silly without some acknowledgment--that's why Pysch made the consulting thing a running gag. You could strip Holmes and Watson from most of the plots and insert Goren and Eames or any other crime drama pair with zero work.