Before the series premiered, it was met with some criticism given it followed closely on the heels of the BBC's modern adaptation Sherlock. After the premiere, it was picked up for a full season and later an extra two episodes. The season two premiere was partly filmed on location in London. The series has since been well received by critics, who have praised the performances, writing, novel approach to the source material, and fresh modern twist detailed throughout the show's New York–based adaptation down to the size of the brownstone first seen in the series premiere.
On March 25, 2016, CBS renewed the series for a fifth season, which premiered on October 2, 2016. On May 13, 2017, CBS renewed the series for a sixth season. On November 29, 2017, CBS ordered an additional eight episodes bringing the sixth season total up to 21. It premiered on April 30, 2018. On May 12, 2018, CBS renewed the series for a 13 episode seventh season. On December 17, 2018, it was announced that the series would conclude after the upcoming seventh season.
Following his fall from grace in London and a stint in rehab, a modern Sherlock Holmes relocates to Manhattan, where his wealthy father forces him to live with a sober companion, Dr. Joan Watson. Formerly a successful surgeon until she lost a patient, Watson views her current job as another opportunity to help people. However, Sherlock is nothing like her previous clients. He informs her that none of her expertise as an addiction specialist applies to him and that he has devised his own post-rehab regimen – resuming his work as a police consultant in New York City. Watson has no choice but to accompany her mercurial new charge on his jobs.
Over time, Sherlock finds her medical background helpful, and Watson realizes she has a talent for investigation. Sherlock's police contact, Captain Thomas Gregson, knows from previous experience working with Scotland Yard that Sherlock is brilliant at solving cases and welcomes him as part of the team. The investigative group also includes Detective Marcus Bell, an investigator with sharp intuition and intimidating interrogation skills. Although initially skeptical of Holmes and his unorthodox methods, Bell begins to recognize Sherlock as an asset to their investigations.
Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes: A former Scotland Yard consultant who now lives in New York City after completing drug rehabilitation for addiction-related problems. Holmes is a deductive genius with a variety of unusual interests and enthusiasms that assist him in his investigations. Feeling that the more interesting criminal cases are in America, he stays in New York. He contacts an old associate, Captain Thomas Gregson of the NYPD, to resume his previous work as a consulting detective. He is forced by his father to live with Dr. Joan Watson, his "sober companion" who provides him with aftercare. Miller's Holmes displays many canonical aspects of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character, while his familial relations, especially his resentment for his father, have been added into his narrative. In between seasons two and three, Sherlock spent eight months in Britain working for MI-6. He returned to New York in "Enough Nemesis to Go Around" with a new protégé, Kitty Winter. At the conclusion of season three, Holmes suffers a relapse, but his father's connections allow him to resume working for the NYPD. In Season 4, it is revealed in mid-season that his mother, May Holmes, was also an opiate addict like him. In the last few episodes of the fifth season, he is shown suffering from unexplained headaches and a lack of concentration, as well as hallucinating a woman who is based on his mother; the sixth season premiere reveals that he is suffering from post-concussion syndrome, requiring him to be put on a carefully balanced system of medication as well as taking on assorted mental activities to try and help his brain heal, albeit hampered by Sherlock's 'need' to use his work to escape his past addictions. With 24 episodes per season, by the end of season two Jonny Lee Miller became the actor who had portrayed Sherlock Holmes the most in television and/or film beating Jeremy Brett with forty-one television episodes and Eille Norwood with forty-seven silent films.
Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson (née Yun): Holmes' sober companion. Watson was a successful surgeon, which adds to her complement of skills. She comes to Holmes when she is hired by his father as his sober companion, to help him remain abstinent after his release from rehabilitation. After her contracted time is finished, she remains on after lying to Holmes, telling him that his father had retained her services. He comes to rely on her input and grows to trust her as she helps him come to terms with his life after addiction. After a while, Holmes reveals that he found out that she was no longer being paid to stay as a companion. He offers her a position as an apprentice, telling her how much she means to him and how she helps him to focus. Watson accepts and starts her training as a detective with Holmes. After Sherlock left for London, Joan became the go-to consulting detective for the 11th Precinct, while also taking on more traditional private investigator-type cases that Sherlock eschews. Despite this, the two resumed working together after Holmes returned to New York, albeit with Joan taking on the occasional independent case away from Holmes. Joan has a brother Oren and a half-sister Lin Wen (née Yun). Joan and her sister have the same father, but different mothers.
Aidan Quinn as Captain Thomas "Tommy" Gregson:[note 1] The captain of the New York City Police Department's 11th Precinct. He was previously assigned to Scotland Yard to observe their Counter-Terrorism Bureau, where he crossed paths with Sherlock and was impressed with his work. He genuinely likes Holmes, and the two have a mutual respect for each other, though he admits that Sherlock is a "pain in the ass". In season 2, Gregson separated from his wife of over twenty years, Cheryl, and they are divorced by season 3. In "Rip Off" (season 3, episode 5), it is revealed that his daughter, Hannah (Liza J. Bennett), is an ambitious patrol officer with the 15th Precinct; by season 6, Hannah has been promoted to Sergeant. In "Absconded" (season 3, episode 23), Gregson is offered a promotion to Deputy Chief due to the good work of his unit, but despite hints that some higher-ups wanted him to accept the offer, he decided to remain as he valued his current role and ability to interact with people more than the possibilities offered by the promotion. It is also mentioned in that episode that he served at the 14th Precinct as a newly promoted Detective and was made head of the Major Case Squad at age 40. In Season Four, it is revealed mid-season that Gregson is now dating Paige Cowen, a former detective who quit after her unit was accused of taking bribes; they briefly break up after Joan runs into them at a restaurant, as Paige claims she does not want people to think ill of Gregson even if she was not involved in her unit's actions, but Joan soon learns that Paige actually has multiple sclerosis, and convinces Gregson to give the relationship another chance. He is a recipient of the U.S. Flag Bar, World Trade Center Bar, NYPD Medal of Honor, NYPD Medal for Valor, and the NYPD 170th Commemorative Breast Bar.
Jon Michael Hill as Detective First Grade Marcus Bell: A junior officer with the 11th Precinct with whom Holmes and Watson often work. While initially against the idea of getting help from Sherlock, he comes to realize Sherlock's talent as a detective and readily takes advice from him. He was briefly reassigned to an observational role in Season Two after sustaining a potentially serious shoulder injury due to a hostile witness Holmes had questioned earlier, but a confrontation with Holmes helped Bell get over the psychological issues that were hindering his recovery and he has since returned to his old role. In season 4, Marcus considers taking the Sergeant's exam, not necessarily for the work or to rise up the ranks of the NYPD, but for the increase in paycheck to help support his ailing mother. In season 6, Marcus is headhunted by the United States Marshals Service and he decides to put in an application for transfer upon completing his Master's degree in six months. He is a recipient of the U.S. Flag Bar, NYPD Excellent Police Duty, and the NYPD 170th Commemorative Breast Bar.
John Noble as Morland Holmes (season 4; guest, season 6): Sherlock's father who arrives in New York after Sherlock has a relapse. He works as an eminent business consultant, making arrangements for various companies to achieve their goals regardless of what they might be, with Sherlock describing him as a 'neutral' party in that he has no concern about the consequences of his clients' goals so long as they are achieved. He has decided to stay in New York for unknown long-term reasons involving Sherlock, with Joan speculating from independent research that he suffered serious stomach damage in a failed attempt to murder him two years ago, and may believe that he is being targeted again. With a view to resolving the threat, at the end of Season 4, he takes over the leadership of Moriarty's organization which will help him to dismantle the group and guarantee safety of his son and Joan from further harm.
Nelsan Ellis as Shinwell Johnson (season 5): A previous patient of Dr. Watson and an ex-convict and gang member for the SBK (South Bronx Killas). He and Watson became acquainted once more when he was released from prison and was placed on probation. During his time on probation, Watson helped him settle back into his life outside of prison while also assisting him in his attempt to build a relationship with his daughter. He was briefly an unofficial informant for an FBI agent and is now an official informant for the Bronx Gang Squad. His relationship with Sherlock and Joan faltered when Sherlock discovered that Shinwell was responsible for the death of a friend of his during his original time in the SBK, but Shinwell wrote a confession for this crime as he was preparing to bring down the gang, only to be killed by another member of the SBK.
Desmond Harrington as Michael Rowan (season 6): A recovering addict who becomes impressed with Sherlock's methods of dealing with his addiction and becomes his friend and leaning post as he tackles a staggering health issue. He is later revealed to be a murderer after burying a woman's body in an unknown location; eventually, he is revealed as a serial killer, who has killed an estimate of more than a dozen women in multiple states, and has credited Sherlock with convincing him to focus on his "work" (a.k.a. killing) in order to kick his heroin addiction. When Holmes' health problems diminish his investigative abilities, Michael leaves New York for a while to allow him to recover. He returns near the end of the season where, after he is revealed to have murdered the addict husband of one of his friends years earlier, he attacks Joan, only to flee after being seriously wounded, and is later found murdered, later revealed to have been by Gregson's daughter Hannah as retaliation for Michael's earlier murder of her roommate.
James Frain as Odin Reichenbach (season 7): A well-renowned tech mogul that Sherlock and Joan meet and befriend on a case, but soon discover is as dangerous as he is powerful.
Ophelia Lovibond as Kitty Winter: Sherlock's newest protégée whom he brought with him from London after leaving MI6. She was initially tasked with spying on Watson until she was discovered. Sherlock tends to be strict with her, but admires her detective skills. Kitty's real name is unknown as she was kidnapped and raped in London prior to meeting Sherlock and she had changed her name in an effort to forget it. Her character is based on Kitty Winter in Doyle's "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client". After confronting and disfiguring her rapist, she decided she needed to leave the United States to avoid possible arrest, and to go somewhere she could use the skills that Sherlock and Watson had taught her.
Ato Essandoh as Alfredo Llamosa: Sherlock's NA sponsor who is a recovering addict himself. Alfredo is also reformed from a life of crime stealing cars. He is now paid by various car companies to test their cars' security systems, and he occasionally lets Sherlock try out his own skills on them. Alfredo is one of Sherlock's few real friends, but is not hesitant to criticize him and pushes him to continue his rehab regimen, including becoming a sponsor himself. He also teaches Joan how to bypass automotive security. Holmes 'fired' Alfredo as his sponsor so that he could help Alfredo as a friend.
Rhys Ifans as Mycroft Holmes: Sherlock's older brother who still lives in London. He and Sherlock had a very bitter relationship in the past, but Mycroft is taking steps to reconcile with his brother, and becomes good friends with Joan. He owns a chain of restaurants and is an excellent cook. It is later revealed that Mycroft is in the employ of MI6, and it becomes necessary for Mycroft to fake his death in "The Grand Experiment", an act that Holmes felt represented a lack of faith in Holmes to find another solution to the current dilemma. Mycroft is currently confirmed to be dead due to an aneurysm. His last known location was New Zealand and Sherlock briefly grieves for him when he knows of this. He regrets not able to make up with his brother before his death.
Natalie Dormer as Irene Adler/Jamie Moriarty: As Irene, she is Sherlock's former lover, while in her true identity as Moriarty she is a criminal mastermind who romanced Sherlock—and then faked Irene's death—to draw his investigations away from her criminal activities. It was her supposed death as Irene that caused Sherlock's already established drug use to escalate. Despite Sherlock discovering her true identity, and her subsequent imprisonment, the two continue to have conflicting feelings for each other—Holmes noting during a conversation with Bell that "the love of [his] life is an unrepentant homicidal maniac"—and great mutual respect for each other's intellectual powers. She has also gained an amount of respect for Joan, as the latter's ability to fool her is what got her arrested; when Joan's life is threatened by drug kingpin Elana March, she arranges the criminal's death in her cell. At the end of Season Four, Morland Holmes takes over her organization with the goal of dismantling it from the inside to prevent its resources being used against his son and Joan.
Sean Pertwee as Gareth Lestrade: Sherlock's British colleague and rival. While Sherlock was based in London, he worked with Lestrade, who was then a member of the Metropolitan Police. Lestrade took credit for solving cases that were actually solved by Sherlock. Lestrade is clearly not in Sherlock's league, but he is a skilled— if overzealous and impulsive— detective.
Candis Cayne as Ms. Hudson: An expert in Ancient Greek who essentially makes a living as a kept woman and muse for various wealthy men; Sherlock allows her to stay at the brownstone after a breakup, and she subsequently agrees to clean for them once a week as a source of income. Sherlock initially attempts to make Joan pay for the work as she complained about his messiness but she refuses and they settle on sharing the expense. Seen in single episodes in each of the first three seasons (episodes 19, 45, 55), but mentioned in numerous others through season four.
Betty Gilpin as Fiona "Mittens" Helbron: a brilliant software engineer for a technology company called Pentillion, who also is known as 'Mittens' in the hacker community. She is on the autism spectrum, and is a cat lover (hence her hacker moniker). She is briefly considered a suspect in one case (episode 81) but later assists Holmes and Watson in their investigation. She later contacts Watson for assistance in another matter, and begins a romantic relationship with Holmes (episodes 84 and 90).
Jordan Gelber as Dr. Eugene Hawes, M.E.: New York Citymedical examiner that provides Sherlock and Watson with details relating to murders that cross paths with their investigations. He and Sherlock are regular chess partners ("the first Thursday of the month" is mentioned in the episode "Hounded"). After he is almost killed when a bomb is detonated in the city morgue ("Down Where the Dead Delight"), he develops an addiction to drugs. After noticing the indicators, Sherlock implores him to get him some help ("Hounded"). He takes a leave of absence to recover, but returns to active duty as the M.E. in the Season 5 episode "Ill Tidings"
Characters from the Sherlock Holmes stories
Vinnie Jones as Sebastian Moran: also known as "M", Moran was originally thought to be a serial killer whom Holmes believed had murdered Irene Adler. In actuality he was a former Royal Marine turned hired assassin, and was paid by Jamie Moriarty. In the Conan Doyle stories Moran was an ex-army colonel and the right-hand man of Professor James Moriarty. He was an excellent marksman and carried out assassinations for Moriarty with a specially built silent air rifle that fired revolver bullets, whereas the Moran in Elementary killed his targets by first hanging them upside down with a home made tripod device before then slitting their throat. ("M.", "A Landmark Story")
David Mogentale as Charles Augustus Milverton: Milverton extorted money from the families of rape victims, which is similar to the character in the Conan Doyle stories, who is described as "the king of the blackmailers". Both versions of the character are killed in front of Holmes who had broken into his house in order to destroy his blackmail materials. ("Dead Man's Switch")
Langdale Pike: is a CCTV observer at Trafalgar Square. In the Conan Doyle stories Pike is a celebrated gossipmonger whose columns are published in numerous magazines and newspapers. Both versions of the character are unseen and help Holmes learn the names of people involved in the case. ("Step Nine")
Writer and producer Robert Doherty created the show. Doherty has commented that it was Carl Beverly who "initially was the one who brought up the possibility of developing a Sherlock show." Beverly spoke about the relationship between Sherlock and Watson in the show in July 2012:
Rob [Doherty] often calls it a bromance, but one of the bros just happens to be a woman. He said that from the very beginning and I think it's really an apt description. There's this idea that a man and a woman can't be together on a show especially without needing to be together sexually or in love or whatever, and this is really about the evolution of a friendship and how that happens. Watching that should be as much the story of this show as the mysteries that you see week in and week out about who killed who [sic].
Liu was cast by February 2012. That July, she said that Watson is not "someone who's on the sideline; she's his sober companion, she's engaged in him, not the mystery, [...] From that point on you get to see how that blossoms out. The foot-in-the-bucket and that kind of Watson happens because in entertainment, there's got to be a sidekick. In this case, that's not the direction we're going in. Ask me in six episodes and if I have a foot in a bucket then we'll have a discussion."
Relationship to BBC's Sherlock
Sherlock, a contemporary reworking of the Sherlock Holmes story, premiered in the UK in July 2010 and in the U.S. in October 2010. The British show has since sold to more than 200 territories. In January 2012, shortly after CBS's announcement they had ordered the pilot for Elementary, Sherlock producer Sue Vertue told newspaper The Independent, "we understand that CBS are doing their own version of an updated Sherlock Holmes. It's interesting, as they approached us a while back about remaking our show. At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernised Sherlock Holmes doesn't resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying." The following month Vertue said that "We have been in touch with CBS and informed them that we will be looking at their finished pilot very closely for any infringement of our rights."
CBS made a statement on the issue: "Our project is a contemporary take on Sherlock Holmes that will be based on Holmes, Watson and other characters in the public domain, as well as original characters. We are, of course, respectful of all copyright laws and will not infringe on any stories or works that may still be protected."
Creator Robert Doherty discussed comparisons between Sherlock and Elementary the following July, pointing out that a tradition of updated Holmes stories dates back to the Basil Rathbone films of the 1940s, and that he did not think it was the case that Elementary took anything from Sherlock, which he described as a "brilliant show" having watched its first series. Several months later, Lucy Liu confirmed the producers of the UK Sherlock were shown the pilot, "saw how different it was from theirs," and were "okay with it now."
The first season was met with positive reviews from critics, who highlighted the show's novel approach to the source material, the writing quality, and the performances and chemistry found between its two leads and supporting cast. Season one holds an 85% approval rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 62 reviews, with an average score of 7.69/10. The site's consensus reads: "It may not appeal to purists, but Elementary provides a fresh new spin on Sherlock Holmes, and Jonny Lee Miller shines in the title role." It also holds a Metacritic score of 73 out of 100 based on 29 sampled reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".The Guardian's Phelim O'Neill felt that "Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu make it a double act to rival Sherlock" and noted that "the pacing feels perfect and the details are light: viewers can keep up with the investigation and feel involved, not something every investigative show achieves". Lori Rackl of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the pilot episode 3 stars out of 4, and said "While the latest interpretation doesn't live up to the British import, it's still more entertaining than your typical CBS procedural." Hank Stuever of The Washington Post gave it a B+ and felt that the show "exhibits enough stylish wit in its mood and look to quickly distinguish itself from the latest British Sherlock series (seen on PBS)".
Season two was met with equally positive reviews. It holds a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 17 reviews, with an average score of 8.29/10. The site's consensus reads, "With the introduction of Mycroft and Lestrade, Elementary successfully extends into the Sherlock Holmes canon in season two." Several critics praised Rhys Ifans for his portrayal of Mycroft Holmes, with Myles McNutt of The A.V. Club calling his casting choice "inspired" and praising him for being able to match with Miller's "bitterness" and praising the premiere episode overall  - he later went on to offer positive words on Ifans' performance in the finale episodes pertaining to Mycroft's story, despite finding flaws in the overall arc. Noel Kirkpatrick of TV.com also praised Ifans, saying he "very finely" played the role. The episode "The Diabolical Kind" also attracted wide acclaim, with many singling out the emotional depth and Natalie Dormer's performance as Moriarty. McNutt called Moriarty's presence in both the episode and the series as a whole "refreshingly dominant" and also praised the storytelling and dialogue, singling out several bits of witty humor in the episode. The episode has a 9.0 rating on TV.com with Kirkpatrick claiming Dormer was "having a ball" playing the role of Moriarty and saying there was "good stuff" to be had in her. Kirkpatrick also appreciated the season as a whole for its development of Holmes' character, as well as the performance of the cast.
Season three continues Elementary's trend of a positive critical response. It holds a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 14 reviews, with an average score of 8.32/10. The site's consensus reads, "Elementary's third season leverages the estrangement between Sherlock and Joan to further explore both characters, proving that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creations still have room to grow". IGN praised the evolution of Watson as a character in the show, saying "While other Holmes/Watson incarnations focus on Watson being a friend, medic, and put-upon backup, Elementary has elevated the character into someone with loftier aspirations." Particular praise was given to Ophelia Lovibond for her performance as Sherlock's protege Kitty Winter, with critics feeling she was a welcome addition to the cast. The episode "The One That Got Away" garnered critical acclaim for its resolution of Kitty's story, as well as the performances of Miller and Lovibond. The Season 3 finale was met with positive reviews. IGN's Matt Fowler gave the Season finale: "A Controlled Descent" an 8.3/10 saying that "The one-two punch of Sherlock both giving into his anger and his heroin lust was a scorching way to send us out of Season 3".
Season four, like previous seasons, was met with a positive critical response. It holds a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 15 reviews, with an average score of 7.45/10. IGN's Matt Fowler gave the season 4 premiere episode "The Past is Parent" a 7.3/10. He praised Joan and Sherlock's deepening friendship and John Noble's performance as Sherlock's father, but criticized the fact that the episode didn't capitalize off the crisis from the Season 3 finale, saying that "while there wasn't anything necessarily bad about "The Past is Parent," it just failed to capitalize off the momentum from last season".
Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline – Substance Use
Craig Sweeny, Robert Doherty, Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly, Robert Doherty, Peter Blake, Craig Sweeny, Liz Friedman, Corinne Brinkerhoff, Christopher Silber, Jeffrey Paul King, Michael Cuesta, John David Coles, Rod Holcomb, Rosemary Rodriguez, Colin Bucksey, David Platt, Seith Mann, Andrew Bernstein and Phil Abraham
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the series was acquired by Sky Witness (previously Sky Living), a subscription channel. It debuted on October 23, 2012. The second season premiered on October 22, 2013. The third season began airing on November 11, 2014. Season 1 premiered on free-to-air TV in the UK on Sky-owned channel Pick on February 6, 2017.
On February 3, 2013, Elementary was broadcast after Super Bowl XLVII. The episode drew 20.8 million viewers despite running out of prime time in the Eastern time zone as a result of a game delay.
In February 2015, Titan Books published the first official tie-in novel, The Ghost Line (ISBN 9781781169841), written by Adam Christopher. A second novel, also written by Adam Christopher and titled Blood and Ink, was published on April 26, 2016 (ISBN 9781785650277).
1994 Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Returns – a 1993 television movie featuring Holmes in a contemporary setting, also produced by CBS
^Gregson was originally identified as Tobias Gregson in the media, the name used in the original stories. The name Tobias was used briefly in early reviews of the show. The show's writers and CBS media site subsequently confirmed the character's correct name is Thomas.
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