I think not...
“De gustibus non est disputandum”
Given that I have some very smart friends who don’t much care for “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” or “Louie CK” – and yet they regularly watch reality shows that for me hold all the appeal of being waterboarded -- I try not to judge anyone based on their television viewing habits. That I like "Justified" and you like "American Idol" doesn't make either of us bad people -- just fellow naked apes with different
tastes in viewing choices.
There really is no accounting for taste.
Still, trying is not the same as succeeding, and as I cast my jaundiced eye upon the latest show in the media news, it seems I’m doomed to fail yet again. In its decidedly finite wisdom, CBS -- the prime broadcast network conduit for staid, boring, predictable television -- has decided to re-imagine the story of Sherlock Holmes with a show called Elementary, wherein a thoroughly modern Holmes is transplanted to current-day New York under a cloud of contrived disgrace. Teamed with a gender-bending Dr. Watson (played by noted thespian cipher Lucy Lui), he will presumably solve crimes and apprehend loathsome miscreants in the Big Apple once a week during the 44 minutes allotted by broadcast television.
Just what the world needs, yet another mind-numbing procedural rip-off: “CSI-Conan Doyle.”
Allow me a moment to projectile-vomit into the sink...
See, this represents everything I hate about the wasteland of American broadcast television. With a wealth of home-grown talent currently working in cable, the best a sclerotic CBS can come up with it to remake a wonderfully clever and innovative BBC show, and in the inevitable process of mass-market homogenization, dumb it down to the lowest common denominator for every wide-eyed, slack-jawed drooler across this Great Land staring hypnotized into the glowing screen each and every night.
Jesus, why doesn't CBS just cut to the chase and start televising cage-match "ultimate" fighting, Snooki Polizzi, and Monster Truck demolition derbies 24/7?*
It would be one thing if the BBC had given their gracious assent to yet another sloppy, opportunistic American hack-job remake of their crown jewel, but from what I've read, they refused in no uncertain terms. CBS went right ahead anyway, with what Les Moonvies and his focus-groupies doubtless consider a bold new approach – casting Lucy Lui as Dr. Watson to introduce a little opposites-attract/approach-avoidance sexual frisson to a story that until now has been refreshingly free of such cliche. But let's face it, CBS has now devolved into a network utterly dedicated to cliche. To expect anything else is akin to walking through Death Valley in August praying for rain.
I haven't been overly impressed with Lucy Lui's work to this point. Although she did a serviceable job in last season's "Southland," that particular role was right in her wheelhouse. Casting such a brittle, fingernails-down-the-chalkboard actress to portray a thoroughly unlikable character possessing those very same qualities was a smart choice by the producers of “Southland,” and maybe she'll deliver a similarly unpleasant-but-effective performance in “Elementary” -- but the show is such a blatantly cynical rip-off that it's impossible to care.
This kind of thing just makes me embarrassed to be an American working in our television industry.
The Shame showers down upon us all...
* And if any or all of those sound like worthy viewing to you, well, sorry about that -- we just see the world of entertainment through different eyes.