Just watched the pilot episode of this. For those who don't know, the BBC made a series that was an updated version of Sherlock Holmes recently, set in the present day. It was very good and quite successful, so the US have made their own version. Some spoilers for the general series and my impressions of it will follow, but not much in the way of spoiling the plot of the pilot itself.
All in all, I find it very mixed. I think they've done a good job in some ways, but they've made a couple of crucial mistakes.
On the good... Jonny Lee Miller is very good. He really is. Lucy Liu is... well, not as good but still pretty good. Dropping the whole "write stuff on the screen as Sherlock thinks" is also very welcome, because that's one thing I find annoying about the original. The plot was engaging enough, and Sherlock's deductions were all handled well... they're clever, but not so obscure and silly that they lose credibility.
On the downside... well, for one, Miller may be good but he just isn't as good as Cumberbatch in the role. Cumberbatch has a much more weird physicality to him, with his stick insect body. He looks odd, which fits such an odd person. And he has an intensity that Miller approaches but doesn't reach.
But sadly, the big failure is Joan Watson.
I have nothing against a female Watson, per se. But I think they've made a major misstep because they've let it affect the characters. The thing about Sherlock and Watson in the BBC's series is that Sherlock is rather cruel to Watson. To everyone, really. He doesn't mean to be, he doesn't set out to hurt him, but Sherlock deduces tiny, hidden, intimate details about people and when he does he blurts them out to demonstrate how clever he is. It never even occurs to him that this is hurtful until he sees it happen, and then he's usually quite sorry about it. There's an exchange in one episode where Watson says "You're a psychopath!" and Holmes blandly replies "No, I'm a high functioning sociopath."
And Watson - like almost everyone else - is not really able to do anything about this. People can't really fight back against Sherlock, because he's just the smartest person in the room by about tenfold. Watson is a likeable, normal, affable guy, and Sherlock guts him routinely just by accident. In a way, it's a rather sadistic/masochistic relationship only where the people don't mean to be sadistic/masochistic. But it is very, very interesting to watch.
You can do this, when it's two guys. But I think the writers of Elementary have decided that you can't do it with a man and a woman. I think they've decided that he'd become too unsympathetic if he treated Joan like that and got away with it.
So there are several occasions in Elementary when Watson out-thinks Sherlock. She's the one who gets a witness to talk. Holmes even lies about it to cover up, and she calls him on it and is right. She calls him on his female guest. She calls him on his London past. And she's right, and she "wins" those battles. And that's bad for these characters, because Holmes and Watson are not supposed to be intellectual equals or even close to it. In Sherlock, Watson is the audience stand-in, he's this normal guy who is caught up in Sherlock's extraordinary world and goes along for the ride. In Elementary, Sherlock and Watson come across as being like a buddy cop team working cases together. It makes her less of an audience stand in, and it brings him down and makes him less interesting. It really harms the show, in my opinion.
So that's what I think. What do you think?
Give a man a fire, and you keep him warm for a day. SET a man on fire, and you will keep him warm for the rest of his life...