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Elementary: Season 2

Paramount // Unrated // August 26, 2014
List Price: $64.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted September 18, 2014 | E-mail the Author
Elementary Season 2 DVD Review

Elementary: Season 2 is the continuation of the hit television series on CBS that has become a modern day successful reinterpretation of the beloved classic literary character Sherlock Holmes and his partner in solving mysteries, Watson. The series continues to be successful with over seven million viewers tuning in to see what happens next on this fun procedural drama (which is infused with comedic elements).

The series stars Jonny Lee Miller (in the role of Sherlock Homes) and Lucy Liu (in the role of Dr. Joan Watson). The dynamic duo are both excellent in their respective parts and add much charm, wit, and entertainment to the series. Holmes is, of course, the abundantly talented and smart detective who always finds a way to make his cases seem 'elementary' (in his own very gifted perspective). Watson is the grounding light in his life and the one person who seems to truly get his approach to solving mysteries. She's also someone who seeks to have a normalcy life-wise, something that Holmes has a difficult comprehending the same way as he becomes completely absorbed in his day to day cases. Another interesting thing about the characters on Elementary is how Sherlock and Watson have an undisputable chemistry with one another but it isn't romantically inclined: the emphasis is on the friendship between these characters and this makes for a nice approach.

Miller and Liu add so much to their parts and it helps the writers realize the show effectively, perhaps in ways that otherwise would not have been possible without a pair as talented as the two front-runners. Part of the reason their performances are so enjoyable is because each are experts as bringing to life the humorous and amusing banter between Sherlock and Watson. These elements keep the show spinning it's creative wheels successfully as these actors are contributing so much to its success through their new takes on these characters. The quick banter, which is a sort of trademark of quirky television productions, works splendidly on Elementary as well. One can become absorbed simply from the character's conversations.

While the show initially received some criticism prior to season one's premiere (and indeed carried some extended negativity) because of its relative creation date being close to that of BBC's Sherlock program, there can be no mistaking the fact that it's a unique creation in the world of Sherlock Holmes adaptations. While I won't attest to being some sort of expert on the subject of versions of Sherlock stories put to film (there have been so many over the years), I'm impressed by the way the writers have handled the transition of Watson into a female-centric role as there has been an interesting and unique take on the character here. Similarly, Miller's take is not quite the reserved sleuth seen in some versions, nor the extravagantly over-the-top version of the character seen in Robert Downey Jr.'s take of the quite famous detective. Instead, the character is more eccentric above all else and not in a way that is zippy to quite such an extent. At this point, it's quite clear the show has its own establishment and can stand on its own feet well in the canon of adaptations of these stories and characters.

The supporting cast members include Aidan Quinn as Captain Thomas Gregson, who has a new storyline focus in the season about his relationship issues with his wife. While the pair have been married for many years and are comfortable together, Gregson learns more about reaffirming his love and finding more time away from work to spend with his wife. Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) also continues to find ways to be an aid on these complex cases and is a charming, likeable character. Also added to season two is Rhys Ifans as Mycroft, Holmes brother (who is in essence an estranged brother who has not spent time with Holmes in many a year). The new cast addition with occasional guest spots featuring Ifans in this role is a new dynamic element within the story.

As a new version of Sherlock Holmes, Elementary ultimately works as a new addition to the universe. The writing is pretty good for a procedural series without as much emphasis on an ongoing story arc and the directing fits alongside it well with the series roster of filmmakers remembering the central key to this series success is the emphasis on highlighting the great performances. The production qualities also impress and seem of a high caliber that works remarkably well. Set designs tend to use a lot of brown color as a stylistic implementation, something which notably brings a distinct look to the show.

Darker stages and settings are utilized for case work but the producers remember to keep elements in many scenes lighter (including the outdoors scenes) so things aren't as consistently dark as some other series. This is one show that wants viewers to partake in humorous moments with the cast of characters than to focus as much on the variety of mysteries, though a balance is met with these two elements of the series. Elementary does ultimately feel like a quality program for its high production values and the numerous contributing factors which make it worthwhile for fans of mystery dramas.  

The DVD:


Despite being on dual layer DVD discs, these encodes are merely average. There are some issues with occasional macroblocking, clarity is merely acceptable (the image is surprisingly soft), and grain texture is lost with poor level encoding. The image also has some aliasing issues, and the black levels don't look that impressive during night-time scenes. All in all, one can tell that it's been well produced as a series but the presentation is merely acceptable here with the average DVD quality. Colors aren't muted, but they are also quite static and not very dynamic looking, though this is a complaint against the stylistic decision and not so much the presentation on the discs. Consider this an "OK" presentation (at best) but it is far from an ideal one. At least it has been presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with anamorphic widescreen enhancement for 16:9 televisions.


Surprisingly, the English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio as included on the set is average in all respects. One might be able to notice slightly opened up surrounds for music placement and an occasional sound effect. However, the bulk of the audio is flat and lacking in a dynamic presentation. The design is something that sounds a lot more like a basic stereo sound design. This is especially interesting to note as these discs contain both 5.1 and stereo audio tracks, but viewers with surround sound systems won't be able to find that much difference. Dialogue clarity is the necessary requirement, of course... and in that respect the audio presentation satisfies its requirement with ease.

Subtitles are provided in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing), Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish.


Second Chapter: Inside Elementary Season 2 (20 min.) is the most in-depth featurette with the executive producers and the two leading actors discussing the story ideas and characters in interviews, talking about the development during the season, and the process of creating the second season after what became  the first year -- what to continue and expand throughout the making of the 2nd season overall.  

Holmes Goes Home (8 min.) is all about the filming of the premiere episode in London with behind the scenes footage and interviews with members of the cast and crew as they discuss filming on their episodic trip to London and what they felt it brought to the season premiere.

Art in the Blood: Meet Mycroft (9 min.) is about the addition of the character Mycroft as performed by Rhys Ifans and the change-up this brings to the season from the interaction between Sherlock and Mycroft, and the importance of the storytelling focusing in on the new sibling storyline. This extra features interviews with the actors and producers (alongside what seems to be a standard inclusion of a few clips from the show).

Under the Magnifying Glass (8 min.) a basic featurette with interviews with produces/writers about strengths of the season and the efforts of the crew (particularly the production efforts).  

Skill Sets (7 min.) is a discussion about the character skill sets featured on the show, the talents of the characters as performed for Sherlock and Holmes: from dueling with swords, to picking locks, to identifying medical issues in the morgue, to dealing with bees, and so forth.

There is an Audio Commentary track included on the season two episode Paint it Black with Lucy Liu and Ron Fortunato.

The Life of Clyde (4 min.) is a an amusing featurette that is a comedy-based (fake mockumentary style) piece about the work done on the show by the pet turtle.

Gag Reel (3 min.) includes the standard outtakes from during the season when actors blurb and laughing (and/or hilarity) ensues.

Deleted scenes are also included on select episodes across the release.

Final Thoughts:

Elementary is a generally entertaining series with a procedural case-of-the-week format for the most part. The series strength is really in the casting as lead performers Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu both bring a lot to their respective characters and are the primary reason to see this series. The DVD PQ/AQ presentation is unfortunately a little bit disappointing and the video supplements only tally up to about one hour of material (excluding the standard inclusion of deleted scenes). Depending upon one's level of fandom for the show and a need to own it on DVD, the release still comes recommended for the quality of the program. Viewers seeking to keep up with the series as it airs should note that Season 3's premiere return to CBS will be on Thursday, October 30th at 10/9 central.  


Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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