Home > TV and anime > Elementary: Season 1, Episode 2. While You Were Sleeping (2012)

Elementary: Season 1, Episode 2. While You Were Sleeping (2012)

Elementary poster

If someone has enough time and experience, it’s usually possible to come up with a really cool plot idea for the pilot episode so the network, in this case CBS, buys the series. The trick is then to find enough cool ideas to fill each of the episodes. Too often, we find the script writers have shot their bolt after the first two or three episodes and are running on fumes until the network pulls the plug. That’s why so many series are cancelled after ten or so episodes. There never was enough creativity to churn out episode after episode at the same high standard throughout. That’s one reason why the British series of Sherlock has been high quality. We’ve only had six episodes in two years. This stately progress allows time for the creative team to shift through all the script ideas and find some worth developing into ninety minute episodes. The fifty minute format preferred by the American networks eats up ideas at a superficial level, not allowing enough screen time to do anything more than state the problem and give the resolution.

Lucy Liu, Aidan Quinn and Jonny Lee Miller prepare for battle

In Elementary, the second episode While You Were Sleeping does not allow us time to see our new pair getting to know each other a little better. In short order, Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) is taking Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) to Anonymous meetings so he can hear how other addicts go through the rehabilitation process. He’s interfering in her life, inviting her ex-lover around for a drink and asking her why she gave up work as a surgeon. With a longer time available, this could have been an interesting mutual exploration, but the AA meetings are perfunctory, Watson’s put downs are pointed, and the first appearance of the violin is a transparent device. Worse, even though he’s a recovering drug addict, he’s given some incredibly stupid things to say about the way his brain attic fills up with junk. Why the couple at the pavement table and/or the serving staff don’t tell Sherlock his oil and water, glass half-full analogy is inane while calling in the police to arrest him is beyond me. The whole approach to the bonding exercise is rather mechanical. They have to go through some kind of ritualised circling activity so they may spiral together as a workable partnership. So that’s what they do.

I would have forgiven all this powerpoint approach to relationship building if the plot idea had been even halfway reasonable but, sadly, this is one of these spot-the-murderer challenges that never gets to first base. It’s obvious who the killer is and how it’s being done because neither Holmes nor Watson ask the obvious questions when given the chance. The fact neither asks inevitably communicates the means. The first sight of the one responsible immediately confirms the suspicion. Robert Doherty does his best to cover up the poverty of the idea with some business at the scene of the first crime. We also get to meet Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) who’s apparently going to be converted to a fan of Sherlock’s methods. But this plot relegates the episode to the spoil heap of trash. Despite the not unreasonable sting in the tail with the reason why the princess did not wake from her sleep after the prince had kissed the apple, it was tediously dull.

Having now seen both opening episodes, Elementary is falling between the usual two stools. It’s not building up a convincing relationship between the two leads and the production team is struggling to maintain the quality of the plot ideas. I’ll have a look at the next two or three but, after While You Were Sleeping, I’m not overly optimistic.

For the reviews of other episodes, see
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 1. Pilot (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 3. Child Predator (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 4. The Rat Race (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 5. Lesser Evils (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 6. Flight Risk (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 7. One Way to Get Off (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 8. The Long Fuse (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 9. You Do It To Yourself (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 10. The Leviathan (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 11. Dirty Laundry (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 12. M (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 13. The Red Team (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 14. The Deductionist (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 15. A Giant Gun, Filled With Drugs (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 16. Details (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 17. Possibility Two (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 18. Déjà Vu All Over Again. (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 19. Snow Angel. (2013).
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 20. Dead Man’s Switch. (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 21. A Landmark Story. (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 22. Risk Management. (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episodes 23 & 24. The Woman and Heroine. (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 1. Step Nine. (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 2. Solve For X (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 3. We Are Everyone (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 4. Poison Pen (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 5. Ancient History (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 6. An Unnatural Arrangement (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 7. The Marchioness (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 8. Blood Is Thicker (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 9. On the Line (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 10. Tremors (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 11. Internal Audit (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 12. The Diabolical Kind (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 13. All in the Family (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 14. Dead Clade Walking (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 15. Corps de Ballet (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 16. One Percent Solution (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 17. Ears to You (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 18. The Hound of the Cancer Cells (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 19. The Many Mouths of Andrew Colville (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 20. No Lack of Void (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 21. The Man With the Twisted Lip (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 22. Paint It Black (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 23. Art in the Blood (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 24. The Great Experiment (2014).

  1. November 3, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I must say that Elementary is starting to grow on me, but the elements are different enough that I don’t really consider them to be “Sherlock Holmes” stories.

    • November 3, 2012 at 11:59 am

      I agree that CBS has been paying its lawyers enough to avoid copyright infringement problems with Sherlock. Indeed, this Holmes seems more like Nicholas Meyer’s recovering drug addict in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution with the female sidekick filling in for Signmund Freud.

      • November 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm

        The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. Wow that takes me back. But the most recent Elementary episode was interesting, and showed off Watson’s strengths. It was a good choice, making her smart and competent, if not as smart as Holmes–but then, who is?

      • November 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm

        I’ve scheduled episode 4 for tonight. I think Meyer’s novels are underrated with The West End Horror nicely playing with real world characters and events, building on the George Edalji case.

  1. April 5, 2014 at 12:37 am
  2. April 12, 2014 at 12:04 am
  3. April 26, 2014 at 1:48 am
  4. May 3, 2014 at 1:38 am
  5. May 10, 2014 at 12:09 am
  6. May 17, 2014 at 1:17 am

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