The plots of the week are all linear. It's like ... what's it called when you start with a clue and that leads you to the next clue and that leads you to the next clue and so on? That's not a scavenger hunt, it's a ____? Which is fine for one or two stories, it's actually a good way to explore a lot of space in the world, but it's sort of dull after a while because you come to expect the weird surprises (murder victim has hidden life, news at ten) and there's no real conflict to it. It's not detective vs. adversary, it's detective following a static path. Nothing happens except they talk to people and then more people and then eventually they find the murderer. There's nothing at stake, not even their reputation as detectives. The antagonists need to do something besides exist to be caught, that would make it more fun. The story needs to be more about antagonists doing things while trying not to be caught rather than a static discovery of the secrets of someone who isn't even alive any more to protect them and a list of hidden associates who all might have done it but only one (or two) of them really did. Since we only see each suspect for like a minute on the linear path to the next person and the next big (not so big) revelation, I don't even care whodunnit.
And the character development sections are too small and too constrained. There are things going on that I'd really like to see more of. I want to see Sherlock interact with Fiona, instead of interacting with Joan about a decision he's in the process of making regarding Fiona. I want to see Sherlock interact with Gregson's girlfriend on the issue in question, instead of interacting with Gregson about how he magically solved everything by talking to Gregson's girlfriend but we don't get to see that conversation. I want to see more of Gregson interacting with his girlfriend, rather than talking to Sherlock about what Sherlock thinks about Gregson's girlfriend and what Sherlock said to Gregson's girlfriend. I want to know what happens to these characters and their relationships (wow, and I'm not even really a relationship-centric person, generally), and all I get are glimpses. It's not very satisfying.
And while I started off interested in Shinwell, I just can't bring myself to care unless something actually happens pretty soon. Story is change; Shinwell hasn't changed (so far). Shinwell isn't changing anything between Sherlock and Joan that I can see. And yes, there are questions about Shinwell, but ... I don't feel like I know enough about him to make good guesses about what might be going on, if anything. Tension is expection, all I've got here are vague wonderings. Not satisfying.
I guess what I'm saying is that nothing interest is going on, and sometimes I just sit there going "Is this over yet?" I mean, I'm going to keep watching because it's basically the only show I'm watching right now, and in the hopes that some of the vagueness will become interesting, but right now, I feel like I've got nothing to watch for. The mysteries of the week bore me, the characterizations seem to be in a dry spell when we get the occasional single drop of character development and that's it, and there's no ongoing story that's gripping me.
I'm actually not sure if this is really a "this season" problem or if I'm just finally getting fed up with something that's been happening for longer.
Really, I'm just baffled. I used to really like this show, and I'm not sure when that changed?
ETA: It occurred to me that my problems with Elementary are basically that it's the opposite of Harry Potter, at least in terms of narrative drive as discussed here.