Word has come down from on high that Elementary will be ending after is upcoming seventh season, which premiered this week. I am gutted. Elementary never came close to ever being my favorite show in any year, but it’s a show I’d always watch in any given year, and I don’t know how to replace it.
When I first saw it — for review, no less — I was dismissive. “Bah,” I said. “This is just like any other crime procedural, but with Sherlock Holmes as the main character.” This was when Sherlock was still a going concern, mind you, so adding Holmes to Elementary just felt like an odd graft into a pretty established formula. But as time went on, I started to think, “Cool, it’s just like any other crime procedural, but with Sherlock Holmes as the main character!” Now, Elementary has outlasted Sherlock, and it scratched my Holmes itch for far more episodes.
I always consider the TV shows I watch to be like a wardrobe. The same way you need to have your everyday jeans, your favorite work sweater, and that killer dress you can wear to a wedding at the ready in your closet, in your TV life you need to have a half-hour comedy that makes you feel good, the prestige drama you think about deeply all week, and the formulaic crime procedural that you can watch even if you missed three episodes and then fell asleep during the fourth. It asks nothing of you beyond the hour it takes for you to watch it.
Elementary was my procedural of choice. I grew to like way the antsy, smarty-pants Holmes energy counterbalanced the hard-boiled NYPD characters. I admired the way they were able to deepen the Holmes and Watson relationship without making it a typical will-they-or-won’t-they. (Seriously, Holmes and Watson had more of a romance on Sherlock.) Yeah, sometimes they had ongoing storylines, but they were so few and so heavily recapped with exposition that you didn’t need to watch the show with any firm commitment. And it was one of the few shows I watched that still had long seasons, so I was able to throw it on whenever I needed. (The last season started in spring and was still going on through late September! It was airing new episodes when everyone else was doing summer hiatuses and past new fall premieres. )
Not only that, but the episodes were starting to get really good. In my opinion, “good” for a formulaic procedural actually means off-the-wall. I’m convinced that one episode from last (episode 132, aka S6, Ep 12, “Meet Your Maker”) is the best the show will ever produce. It had:
- A financial dominatrix
- Amateur blacksmithing
- A gang not unlike MS-13
- A Maker Faire-style convention
All in one episode!
(If you want the tl;dr spoiler version of what happened it’s this: The incels were a red herring! The FinDom was abducted because her boyfriend, the amateur blacksmith, was being coerced by the MS-13-style gang to make folksy homemade guns for them! It was great!)
And that was it. The next week, all of it — the FinDom, the incels, the Maker Faire, the gang — were gone. The showrunners didn’t have to find a way to make the incels the “big bad” of the season, or to have the Maker Faire come back in the last run of episodes. I had just enough time to say, “Wait, WHAT?” before it was on to the next.
Elementary didn’t make our (unpublished) list of best TV this year. By design, these types of shows never do. That’s the beauty of them. And yet, I’m most sad that Elementary is ending. It’s going to be hard to find a show audacious enough to bring me homemade gunsmithing one week, and never bring it up again.