TV picks of the week: The incorrigible Mr Holmes

Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller in Elementary. Photo / Supplied
Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller in Elementary. Photo / Supplied

Pick of the week: Elementary

"It's a fantastic character, and opportunities like this don't come along as often as people might think.

Jonny Lee Miller This being the modern-day American take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes means it's more spit-polished and accessible than the stylishly gritty and intense British version starring Benedict Cumberbatch. It's like the eccentric British detective-meets-Castle, say.

Still, as the latest Sherlock on the block, actor Jonny Lee Miller, whose perhaps best known here as Sick Boy in Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, does a fine job of being the brilliant yet incorrigible prat we know so well.

There's a hilarious scene in the first episode of this 24-part series where he and his assistant, Dr Joan Watson (played by former Ally McBeal and Charlie's Angels star Lucy Liu, in her best role to date), are at the opera and Sherlock is at his rude and wicked best.

Elementary is set in New York where Sherlock is living following a fall from grace in London and a stint in rehab, and he is now helping solve cases for the NYPD.

The series starts, well, with a New Zealand song in fact, as we see Watson out for a jog listening to the Naked and Famous' Young Blood on her headphones.

It's the day she takes over as Holmes' companion - or "addict-sitter" as Sherlock puts it - but before they meet, she gets a phonecall to say he has broken out of "junkie jail".

In typical Holmes fashion, when they meet face to face, as well as creeping her out by how much he knows about her from just looking at her, he tells her his post-rehab plan to keep himself busy is to get back to solving crimes. And first on his list is the case of a young woman who has disappeared after a violent struggle.

When the British producers of Sherlock heard American network CBS were making Elementary, they told the Independent it would be worrying if it resembled their series.

However, Miller took it on himself to dispel any notion of copy-catting, since he and Cumberbatch are good friends, having meet while starring in Boyle's West End stage show Frankenstein in 2011. And after landing the lead in Elementary, Miller assured Cumberbatch that his portrayal of Holmes - and the show in general - would be nothing like the British one.

"I love the work that Benedict has done with Sherlock," Miller says. "So I would call him up like a groupie after every episode came out and want to talk to him about it. And we had a discussion about this project as well. It was a private discussion. Benedict has been very, very supportive, and, you know, I wanted to reassure him about how different this script was and project was. All of the other differences will kind of be apparent. That's another country and a whole lot of vibe."

Miller also says he is feeling the pressure to do the character justice. "But it's a fantastic character, and opportunities like this don't come along as often as people might think for us. So it's wonderful."

When: Wednesday, 8.30pm
Where: Prime
What: Sherlock Holmes in New York

Consumer affairs pick: Fair Go

If you've had any run-ins with dodgy service people, or have a consumer complaint, you'll be happy to hear Fair Go is back for another year.

And it has plenty of stories on consumer issues which, whether big or small, have the potential to drive us all to distraction.

Host Pippa Wetzel joins Gordon Harcourt and the rest of the team to expose rip-offs, rorts, and rogue behaviour.

In the first episode the show investigates the problem of small print being so small that it's actually unfair - or worse.

A case from last year is revisited, and new girl Pippa will look into the perils of sending flowers online - will your bouquet look as you expect, and will it be delivered on time to the right person?

When: Wednesday, 7.30pm
Where: TV One
What: Campaigning for the consumer.

Nature pick: Africa

The animals of Africa were the stars of the series but this making-of episode shows just what lengths the camera crews went to - like the team that travelled to the heart of the Congo jungle to film chimpanzees, which narrator David Attenborough describes as like "traipsing through a forest that's trying to eat them".

Attenborough points out that Africa has attracted some of the greatest wildlife film-makers, so the challenge for the team was to find new places, new stories and new behaviour.

As well as being technically demanding, the physical and emotional impact on the camera people is revealed, including their astonishment on seeing a fight between giraffes, and their sadness when an elephant calf dies.

When: 8.30pm, Tuesday
Where: TV One
What: Go behind the scenes.

Documentary pick: Aftermath

The aftermath of the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch was devastating. Not only were 185 lives lost and thousands injured, but entire suburbs had to be abandoned. Nine thousand buildings were destroyed and tens of thousands damaged.

Several programmes have covered aspects of the event so far, including After The Quake with Nigel Latta, which looked at the lasting emotional trauma, and the feature-length documentary When A City Falls, outlining many individual stories.

Now, in the first of a five-part documentary series, the team looks at the reconstruction of the city, and follows scientists as they consider the options. They head below the Earth's surface and study archaeological sites to look at specific challenges in an active earthquake zone.

When: Sunday, 8.45pm
Where: Prime
What: Rebuilding in an active earthquake zone.

Drama pick: Monroe

Likeable James Nesbitt (most recently seen as dwarf Bofur in The Hobbit) is back for another season as the sometimes less-than-likeable brain surgeon Gabriel Monroe.

Season two picks up 18 months after the end of season one, and there have been a few changes: Monroe has accepted that his divorce is final and has moved into a bachelor pad. In the first episode, Nesbitt faced a dilemma when a young man and his pregnant wife come to the hospital seeking Monroe's help. The young man, Paul, has a dangerous neurological condition and has already been refused surgery by other hospitals.

Yes, it has similarities to House, but Nesbitt's Monroe is a more rounded, empathetic person than House and more interested in the patients than their fascinating ailments.

When: Sunday, 9.45pm
Where: Prime
What: Difficult British brain surgeon back for second season.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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