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TV review: CBS' new Sherlock is rather 'Elementary'

Casual Sherlock Holmes fans may not be aware that the great detective often pumped a 7 percent solution of cocaine into his arm.

Rod Doherty makes that detail from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books the jumping-off point for his new crime drama, "Elementary" (9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, CBS; 3 stars out of 4). It could be an interesting choice, if CBS lets Doherty move beyond its pat crime-procedural format to more of a character drama that delves into the psyches of its two main characters.

Jonny Lee Miller plays a modern-day Holmes in New York fresh out of rehab. He's an oddball, all fidgety but cocky and socially callous. His Dr. Watson, played by Lucy Liu, is a disgraced former surgeon hired by Holmes' wealthy father to act as Sherlock's sober companion. She'll live with him 24-7 for six months--certainly longer when CBS picks up the series for another season.

In the opener, after they meet Holmes returns to consulting on cases for Capt. Gregson (Aidan Quinn) of the NYPD. Watson is at first stupefied not by Sherlock's brilliance, but by his battiness. She eventually warms up to crime-solving, if not to Holmes himself. (Although that is likely to happen soon.)

For folks who are obsessed with PBS' far superior "Sherlock," "Elementary" will be quite disappointing. Miller is infinitely watchable as the twitchy detective, and I'm sure Liu will bring more to Watson if she's given the chance. (Making Watson a gal could be another compelling decision.)

My biggest problem with the opener is the crime they are asked to solve: It's rather, well, elementary. I figure pretty much any cop could have solved it.

CBS knows how to do the procedural. Heck, that's pretty much all the network airs. And it works. So I have little doubt "Elementary" will succeed. But if the network wants to keep Holmes purists happy, it'll need to make future cases worthier of the sleuth's attention.

Other Sept. 27 premieres: "Last Resort," 7 p.m. ABC; "The Big Bang Theory," 7 p.m. CBS; "Two and a Half Men," 7:30 p.m. CBS; "Person of Interest," 8 p.m. CBS; "Grey's Anatomy," 8 p.m. ABC; "Scandal," 9 p.m. ABC

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Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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