Fall TV Pilot Preview: CBS' 'Elementary'

TV veterans Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu star in this modern-day reboot of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories.

CBS’s takes a swing at the Sherlock Holmes mythology with its new Thursday night drama Elementary, marking at least the 24th time the classic detective has been adapted for TV or film.

Elementary stars Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes, Lucy Liu as Watson, and Aidan Quinn as Captain Gregson.  Rob Doherty penned the script and action veteran Michael Cuesta (Homeland, Dexter) helmed the pilot episode.

Set in New York City, Elementary follows Sherlock Holmes, a former Scotland Yard consultant who has relocated to the U.S., as he assists the NYPD in solving difficult cases.

Sitting in the prime 10 p.m. Thursday slot,Elementary has a good change of succeeding up against ABC’s Scandal and the NBC newsmagazine Rock Center with Brian Williams.

The Hollywood Reporter screened the pilot. Here’s five things to know about the show.

1. Elementary owes more to The Mentalist than Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes movies.

Miller’s Sherlock solves crimes with his brains not brawn. The procedural structure of the pilot is more like current CBS shows like The Mentalist than the classic Holmes stories.

2. It’s not a period piece and it’s not set in London.

The original Sherlock Holmes stories debuted in a British magazine in 1887 and were set in London. Elementary takes place in present-day New York City.  Instead of Scotland Yard, this Holmes works with a New York City detective (Aidan Quinn), who tolerates his eccentricities and his Britishness to the chagrin of his fellow cops.

3. Watson is a girl!

One big break with Holmes mythology is the casting of Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Ally McBeal) as Dr. Joan—not John—Watson.  Although best known on TV for her role on Ally McBeal, Liu did a 10-episode stint on the TNT drama Southland earlier this year.

4. Both Holmes and Watson have a dark past.

Holmes is a recovering drug addict, who came to New York to attend rehab. His father, a wealthy developer who is referenced but not seen in the pilot, hires Dr. Watson to be his full-time sober companion. Watson has had her own problems with drugs in the past. Holmes speculates a boyfriend or husband was an addict, but the exact reason is not made clear in the pilot.

5. Executive Producers Rob Doherty, Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly have a long track record with cop shows.

Creator Doherty was an EP on Medium and Tru Calling, in addition to serving as a consulting producer on last season’s cancelled Ringer. Timberman and Beverly worked together on Justified, Unforgettable and Kidnapped.