Who Shot Sherlock?

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Sobell: A | Grade It Now!
Elementary, Dear Grissom

Night has fallen on Las Vegas, and as per usual, the casinos downtown have insisted on turning on the lights, the better to illuminate the bodies of murder victims. At this point, I have a near-Pavlovian response to seeing neon: I immediately begin looking for corpses in the vicinity. You can imagine how much more interesting this made our trip to Las Vegas last month.

The mist swirls, we see a man revving up a motorcycle, and I brace for the impact of a Meatloaf video. After a few more atmospherically spooky minutes spent waiting tensely for the crashing opening chords to a bombastic lite-metal ballad, what I get instead is a man exiting a car. He's wearing sensible black shoes, as opposed to a studded metal boots and a swirling cape. Those, combined with his saturnine expression, reassure me that we're not about to stumble into a wall of sound erected by pop music's answer to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The lean-faced man heads inside his house, and we quickly establish that he's a fan of British tea. The music continues to thrum ominously. Perhaps the man's about to be waylaid by capering jackass Ty Pennington and his crew of similarly challenged individuals, in what would clearly be an act of hostile redecoration.

Or maybe he's just heading for the basement, where all your A-list serial killers and hangers-on lurk. However, instead heading straight into a drooling maniac with a chainsaw, the guy heads into a drolly appointed study with a lot of Chippendale. The place is a dead ringer for a nineteenth-century flat. The "scenery" outside the window -- reproduced from daguerreotypes of the period -- only confirms the impression that this guy created this space as an escape from the outside world.

And what does a man who hangs out in an elaborate basement hideout do down there? Plays the violin, of course. Ever notice how some instruments are shorthand for "classy," while others are shorthand for "weird"? Anyway, the camera pulls in tightly on the violin, and then on the fireplace behind it, bringing to mind the old Victor Borge quote, "The difference between a violin and a viola is a viola burns longer."

In any event, the next shot shows the man in the same position, only he's swapped his string instrument for a bullet hole to the temple. That'll probably hurt his chances of playing for the Las Vegas Light Opera Company next fall. Gil is peering around the place and examining the trinkets on the table: "A deerstalker cap, violin, Meerschaum pipe, even a Persian slipper with tobacco stuffed in the toe, I imagine. All in all, a meticulous recreation of 221-B Baker Street...residence of the world's greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes." It is to Gil's credit he can utter that without making it look like he's fishing for a compliment. You just know Horatio Caine would say the same thing in a tone that practically demanded Calleigh or Delko to simper, "You're not so bad yourself, H." I'm shuddering thinking about it.

Brass brings us all back into the case by pointing out that the Sherlock groupie was also known as Dennis Kingsley, delivery man. Bless you, Captain Exposition, for your untrammeled ability to get to the point. Brass then asks Gil what he thinks, and Gil punts to Liam the Lab Tech, on account of this being his final proficiency case. "Emphasis on the final," Gil helpfully adds. Brass says, "Okay, Dr. Watson. Run it." With only a minimum of dolorous sighing and eye-rolling, Liam does: "Victim's in a relaxed position. In front of a fake fire. Alcohol. Solitude. Powder burns around the entrance wound, close to contact shot. It all suggests suicide." Brass quickly kneecaps that theory by asking where the weapon might be. Gil's no help. Liam says, "Family and friends who discover a body sometimes remove the weapon, make it look like murder. No suicide stigma and better chances of collecting on any life insurance." Gil looks pleased that Liam was able to defend his theory without a meltdown, but Brass presses on: "From the looks of things, this guy lived alone and the neighbors heard the shot, so...pretty good. I guess I'll go interview the neighbors."

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