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Elementary on the Bubble: Keep or Cut?

TVLine logo TVLine 2/22/2017 Vlada Gelman
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By mid-May, the broadcast networks must make some tough calls as to which series will return for the 2017-18 TV season, and which… won’t.

As that deadline draws near, TVLine is singling out a few “bubble” shows and sizing up their prospects — based in large part on creative strides (and stumbles) and future potential, but also with a requisite nod to cold, hard numbers.

Next up is CBS’ long-running take on the Sherlock Holmes canon.

THE SHOW | CBS’ Elementary (Sundays at 10/9c)

THE CASE FOR KEEPING | For those who prefer procedural dramas, Elementary is still a solidly crafted investigative hour featuring understated, thoughtful performances from leads Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. It’s unsurprising, then, that the series shines most when highlighting the bond between Sherlock and Watson, whose platonic dynamic is a refreshing change of pace from TV’s many “will they or won’t they?” duos. Nelsan Ellis’ criminal-turned-wannabe sleuth Shinwell Johnson has been a welcome addition this season, bringing edge, intrigue and a new perspective to Sherlock and Watson’s world. He’s the kind of new blood the show needs if it wants to avoid getting stale and continue solving crimes for another year.

THE CASE FOR CUTTING | There’s no denying that five seasons in, Elementary has lost the novelty factor of its buzzy premise — Watson is a woman! — and has settled into a familiar case-of-the-week pattern. With no heavily serialized storylines, frequently revisited mythology or consistent romances, a certain level of excitement and the need to tune in every week are missing. Some of the most interesting and more personal plot points — Joan’s half-sister, Papa Holmes and Moriarty’s organization — are only occasionally touched upon, despite having a wealth of story potential. (Yes, that is probably partially due to logistic/scheduling problems that are out of the producers’ control — come back to us, Natalie Dormer! — but it still hurts.)

Then there are the ho-hum numbers: Season-to-date, Elementary is averaging 5.1 million viewers and a 0.7 demo rating‚ down just a tick from last year’s Sunday run (of eight episodes) — which, all things considered, isn’t that tragic, given the umpteen times football bumps it into the wee hours of the night. That said, among CBS shows, it is currently only topping low-buzz midseason drama Ransom in the key ratings demo — which starts making it look like chum come renewal time.

Vote below, and then state your own case for keeping or cutting Elementary.

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