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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Elementary is a modern adaptation of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle story about a super sleuth and his loyal partner. In this version, Sherlock Holmes is a recovering drug addict whose brilliance makes him a valuable, if unorthodox, consultant to the NYPD, and Watson is a female ex-doctor with some secrets in her past. Because the stories center on murders, abductions, and other unsavory facets of human behavior, it's not for kids, but it is one to consider for teens who are ready for the serious topics it raises. Dead bodies and details of crimes are fair game, but because most of the violence happens offscreen, the content's impact is greatly lessened. Mild language ("ass" and "damn") is an occasional concern, as are a few references to sex.
What's the story?
Holmes and Watson get a modern American makeover in ELEMENTARY, a smart crime drama based loosely on Arthur Conan Doyle's famous sleuthing pair. Jonny Lee Miller stars as Sherlock Holmes, a former Scotland Yard consultant who's starting over in New York City after sobering up in rehab. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) is his "sober companion," tasked with helping him ease back into normal life and keeping his recovery on track. When NYPD captain Tobias Gregson (Aidan Quinn) calls on Holmes for advice on a case, Watson is swept up in the brilliance and madness of Sherlock's crime-solving process and finds that she has more to contribute than just a steady hand.
Is it any good?
This cerebral mystery series puts a fresh spin on a well-worn tale without overstepping its license to rewrite the classic. One major difference is evident from the start, and while purists might not immediately love the gender (and ethnic) swap in Watson's character, Liu will win over skeptics with her thoughtful performance of a former doctor who's still licking her own wounds from the past while trying to help Holmes escape his inner demons. The two make a pair worthy of the classic characters they play, and the notable absence of sexual attraction or tension between them is a refreshing departure from many other primetime series.
Mystery buffs will revel in this new addition to the TV repertoire that relies on sharp writing and fascinating character development to appease the potential of its superb casting. Happily, because Elementary doesn't need to delve into sensational content like violence or sex to fill gaps in its fantastic stories, this is a great options for sturdy teens with an appetite for mystery.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Elementary's sanitary presentation of crime. What are the benefits of a crime drama that omits much of the gory details? Does that lessen the impact of the idea of violence?
In what ways do Holmes and Watson reflect the classic versions of their characters? Do you think the writers have a responsibility to stay consistent with at least some of the original story's details?
Why do you think the two characters were cast without sexual attraction? What impact does this have on the story's credibility?
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