CBS’ Elementary can point with pride at seven unusually successful seasons of mystery and mayhem.
The Production: 3.5/5
CBS gifted the production team of its hit procedural Elementary and its many fans an unexpected surprise by renewing the show for a final thirteen-episode season. Series creator Rob Doherty was quite taken aback by the unexpected renewal as he had delivered what he thought (and was) a dynamite series finale at the conclusion of season six. However, with thirteen new episodes to create, the writers had their work cut out for them digging themselves out of a hole they had dug with their former conclusion which would allow Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to return to New York from their new London home to continue with their adventures.
Sadly, the writers weren’t fully successful with their walk-back. There is never really adequate explanation of how Holmes was cleared of the murder charges against him (to which he had falsely confessed to get partner Joan Watson off the hook) especially since the real murderer (known to Sherlock and Joan as the daughter of their beloved Captain Gregson) is never seemingly brought to justice. It’s a messy detail that’s just swept under the rug. Instead, the writers take a page out of the Bones playbook and craft a super villain for the show’s final season: Odin Reichenbach (James Frain), a billionaire with infinite resources and the full cooperation of every major governmental agency here and abroad. He’s a software genius who’s crafted a way to anticipate murder sprees before they happen. He then dispatches underlings vigilante-style to kill the killers before they strike. Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) and Joan (Lucy Liu) stumble onto the suspicious activities from London in episode two when Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn) is strangely wounded at an empty baseball field which returns them to New York to investigate. Finding the man who shot him is fairly routine, but the greater web of vigilante justice underneath Gregson’s shooting occupies most of the rest of the season in the long-range story arc.
Of course, there are also individual cases for most of the episodes which begin and end before the conclusion of each episode. As is usual with these mysteries, the conundrums the show’s staff writers have created are superb: twisty and always surprising often taking us in quite a different direction from where the investigations first began or seem headed. This season, models attacked with acid, a secret storage facility for smuggled goods, a sniper on the rampage, and a sculptor’s murder all prove the starting points for some great problems for our intrepid duo to solve. And in the season’s best episode, the return of perpetual liar Cassie Lenue (Ally Ioannides) who begs Holmes and Watson for their help in solving the murder of a woman who once was her foster mother gives rise to a baffling case not made easier by Cassie’s continual string of falsehoods and misdirections. The series finale jumps ahead three years to allow us to see the futures of the show’s principals after the (most unsatisfying) dispatch of their season-long nemesis.
In addition to each of them directing an episode during the final season, Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu (who goes blonde for some unfathomable reason for these last thirteen shows) inhabit these characters with the surety and snap that they’ve always possessed. Jon Michael Hill as Detective Marcus Bell and Aidan Quinn as Captain Gregson offer solid support throughout, and John Noble makes a welcome reappearance as Sherlock’s father for one memorable episode near the end of the series. James Frain enacts a striking villain: calm and collected even when spouting the most hair-raising suppositions, and a special shout-out needs to be offered to both Tim Guinee who returns as NSA Special Agent McNally and especially Jordan Gelber as the unsung New York medical examiner Dr. Eugene Hawes who has parried quips and quotes with the duo for seven seasons.
Here are the thirteen episodes contained on three discs in the seventh season set:
1 – The Further Adventures
2 – Gutshot
3 – The Price of Admission
4 – Red Light, Green Light
5 – Into the Woods
6 – Command: Delete
7 – From Russia with Drugs
8 – Miss Understood
9 – On the Scent
10 – The Latest Model
11 – Unfriended
12 – Reichenbach Falls
13 – Their Last Bow
3D Rating: NA
The transfers are presented in their widescreen television aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and are anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. At 480p quality, these are mostly outstanding transfers. Sharpness is exceedingly crisp and inviting most of the time with as much detail as can be squeezed from standard definition video. Color is quite warm and nicely under control throughout with appealing and realistic skin tones. Black levels are rich, and shadow detail is nicely delivered. Try as I could, I wasn’t able to discern any aliasing or moiré patterns present in these images, quite a surprise for standard definition DVDs. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.
The disc offers both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 stereo surround sound mixes. Both are effective. For the purposes of this review, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix was utilized for all but one episode. The score by Sean Callery is the primary inhabitant of the surround channels, and it’s effectively and wittily placed to maximize the series’ mixture of quirky and dramatic moments and sounds very expansive in most episodes. Being a dialogue-heavy show, the recording of voices is very professionally done with the dialogue residing in the center channel. Sound effects occasionally do pan through the soundstage or occupy split channels, but with the series being shot in New York City, more of the city’s ambiance could be reflected in the audio mix. Bass seems especially prominent this season.
Special Features: 3/5
Deleted Scenes: five scenes during the season’s final three episodes are paired with the episodes from which they were excised.
Mystery Solved: The Final Season (24:04): creator/executive producer Rob Doherty explains the conundrum the writers found themselves in having to undo what they had done at the end of season six. Then, what they did with season seven is discussed by Doherty and also Lucy Liu, Jon Michael Hill, and Aidan Quinn. Strangely, Jonny Lee Miller is not present for any interviews about the final season.
Holmes Is Where the Heart Is (7:35): Members of the writing staff including Rob Doherty, Jason Tracey, Tamara Jaron, Jordan Rosenberg, Jeffrey Paul King, Bob Goodman, and Robert Hewitt Wolfe discuss how writing for this series has made them better of their jobs.
Gag Reel (2:44)
CBS’ Elementary can point with pride at seven unusually successful seasons of mystery and mayhem. That the final season wasn’t its best is somewhat surprising, but even at its weakest, the show has always offered welcome entertainment that has never talked down to its audience. Recommended!
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