When Elementary first premiered on CBS, much of the focus was on the Sherlock Holmes spin the show was simply putting on yet another procedural for the network. But Holmes is such an iconic (and specific) character that regardless of how interesting the cases had to be to hook your typical procedural fan, the quirks of the character in solving the cases were what really counted. And as the rest of the first season unfolds, series creator and executive producer Rob Doherty promised the character dynamics will be what really drive the show.
"Most immediately you just enjoyed seeing them together, and that was huge. That was crucial to the success of the show, or at least to, you know, the degree of success we've had to this point. You know, what I saw was a lot of humor. I saw that each could go toe-to-toe with the other. You know, you can't help but write to those things," Doherty said of Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu's chemistry as actors that created this telling of Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson.
"We've always planned to get to a point in the season where we formalized the relationship. The sober companionship was a starting point; it was important to the series, and it gave Watson a real purpose to be in the life of Holmes, but you can't do that for six, seven, eight years, and so we don't plan to."
As Elementary heads toward the back end of its season, then, Doherty shared that he does intend for the show to dive deeper into serialization than simple, stand-alone case of the weeks. But in doing so, he also plans to "redefine" the Holmes and Watson relationship. The two character have gotten to a point where they are comfortable with each other and they like being around each other. They have also started to acknowledge, even if not verbally or to each other, that they can learn from each other. That is something that might not have happened so quickly on other procedurals, or even this one, with other actors in the roles.
Liu pointed out that earlier in the season, she and Miller were actually getting notes on set that said they seemed too familiar with each other for that point in the story.
"'It's like they've known each other for a while.' 'They need to dial it back. 'They need to not know each other so well'," she shared a few of the notes. "They wanted it to start out slower, which, you know, I disagreed with because I think if you have chemistry with somebody, you have chemistry with them. I think that's what makes the audience excited to tune in."
But it is something which has excited the audience over time. Doherty was adamant that the Holmes and Watson relationship was not going to cross over into a "will they/won't they" scenario but instead remain platonic.
"I don't think we need it," Doherty said. "And when you look again at the relationship in the original books, the original-- the Conan Doyle canon-- they didn't need to get together!"
Still, Doherty was excited to evolve the characters in his own specific way right for this specific show:
"It's fairly clear there's a great deal of respect between the two of them. You know, I feel like a powerful friendship has developed. It may not be the term that either would use to describe [it], but it's a friendship. And, yet you, know, my sense of Sherlock is that many things need to be defined in a more formal way, so I think that as he recognizes the sober companion side of things, or the sober companion side of Joan is sort of falling away, he'll want to make her more appropriate, you know, more of an associate, more of a partner, more of somebody he can lean on and utilize in an investigative way."
The last time LA TV Insider Examiner got to catch Doherty at the TCA tour in Los Angeles, he teased that the show would be diving into the Moriarty mystery. The most recent episode of Elementary did finally get around to showcasing just how "M" is keeping tabs on Holmes, but the man Holmes tracked and tortured, presuming to be "M" was just one of his minions, leaving the actual man still out there.
Yet again, Doherty assured us that Moriarty would still be coming to Elementary, though noting that such a character is one he wants to "dollop out."
"We cannot wait to get more serious about Moriarty," Doherty said, noting that the role deserves to be somewhat secretive, which is hard to do in this digital age.
"It's virtually impossible to stunt [cast] a role and not have everyone in the universe know that this person is coming and will be revealed as this character. So we're approaching it very carefully and as quietly as we can. At the end of the day, we want a tremendous actor, but...we have a few more weeks, I think, before we have to sweat that."
Additionally, in the back end of the season, we will meet Holmes' old dealer from London, and another more secretive person from his past who, in spending time with Holmes and Watson, will allow an insight into Holmes that Watson (or the audience) can't get without having history. And the character of Irene is a big one for Doherty that he hopes to be able to show off in the form of a "living, breathing actress."
"She's alive in my heart!" He said. "We've talked, in a very roundabout way, about maybe doing a flashback show where we can see a little bit more of why. Why would someone like our Sherlock be drawn to this particular woman? What is it about her that he would be attracted to? She's got to be pretty unique, so we definitely want to meet her."
But as for whether or not we'd see any of the case-of-the-week villains thus far return again, Doherty couldn't say for sure with one notable exception.
"Sebastian Moran is somebody I would most definitely like to have back in the near future. As far as some of the villains who aren't related to the mythology the way Moran was, it's tricky. We've had some excellent villains. Maybe they could form a superteam-- a League of Injustice," he said.
"It's interesting...I may end up looking back over some of our guest cast and see if there's a second [story there]. You always need sort of a two-stage rocket. How do they serve their purpose in this first episode, and what can be the second-- the escalation or development for another story?"
For now, though, everyone is just looking forward to seeing how Elementary can continue to evolve as the episodes go on and dive deeper into these two unique personalities thrust together and now choosing to stay working together, as well as the varying tones they bring. As the balance shifts between who may be more front and center, the tone of the episodes shift, as well, which Miller feels has been essential to keeping him on his toes, as well as keeping the audience intrigued.
"When you're shooting 20-odd episodes in a season, the last thing you want is for each script to be the same tone. As long as we feel the characters are written with the same voice, I guess, as long as they have that, that's good for us. And then we try and fit into those different scenarios, and it's a wonderful thing to have the difference. It's really, really good!"
Elementary airs on CBS on Thursday nights at 10 p.m.
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