Sherlock and Watson, more than friends?

This fall we get a third adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic Sherlock Holmes. To go along with Benedict Cumberbatch’s tone perfect modern day Sherlock and Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr.’s over the top movies comes Elementary, staring  Jonny Lee Miller as the famous sleuth and Lucy Liu as his faithful companion, Watson. It will take place in a modern day New York, with Miller’s Sherlock favoring the bottle over the needle.  The modern day setting, already done to perfection in the BBC’s Sherlock, the switch to alcoholism and a relocation across the water may all end up being interesting changes.

But what interests me most is the casting of Lucy Liu as Watson.  It is great to see a woman of color given this classic role. My only real concern was how the relationship between Holmes and Watson would be affected by the change.  In some ways a female Watson can bring new and exciting dynamics into the strange, symbiotic partnership. Further, it can and hopefully will explore a platonic relationship between two members of the opposite sex. Too often we see these kinds of pairings drawn to exploring some kind of romantic interest between such characters.  Yet, Sherlock Holmes is the antithesis of this.  He is an almost asexual character, and is thus all the more interesting as an exploration of a true partnership between a man and a woman that has no basis in attraction or sexuality, and all to do with capability, trust, and teamwork.

I don’t see how the series can match up against the current BBC version (and nothing will top the Granada series with Jeremy Brett for strict adaptations). But the BBC version only has a few episodes per year, extended mini-movies though they may be, so there is a place for another Sherlock. I’m not convinced this is it, but I might give it a chance just to see a unique, complex, non-romantic relationship between a man and a woman on television.  And thus, I am happy to hear Lucy Liu explain to Access Hollywood that she does not see a romantic future for Holmes and Watson on Elementary.

Access Hollywood chatted with the stars of the drama at Comic-Con 2012 in San Diego on Thursday, where they talked about the possible sparks between their characters.

“There’s definitely going to be a chemistry between them,” Lucy explained. “But, I don’t know if they’ll ever really connect in that way.”

Since the co-stars have only shot one episode of the show, the actress admitted their future is uncertain.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen right away,” she said of any potential romance.

Let’s hope it doesn’t happen at all.


3 Responses to Sherlock and Watson, more than friends?

  1. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a traditionalist. There’s very few times when I feel that later versions match up to the original. Still, it was with an open mind that I approached the recent BBC and Robert Downey, Jr. versions. I kept in mind what Arthur Conan Doyle himself said when asked by the famed actor William Gillette about marrying Holmes off. Doyle responded with, “You may marry him or murder him or do what you like with him!” Even Doyle was open to wide interpretations of his character. I was delighted by BBC’s newest interpretation with inspired performances by Cumberbatch as Holmes and Freeman as Watson. Even Downey’s version was uplifted by Jude Law’s excellent portrayal of Watson, finally and ultimately freed from Nigel Bruce’s incompetent bumbler. Although none of the recent versions can touch Brett’s iconic performance, these two newest ones have been entertaining if not strictly canonical.
    That being said, I don’t have high hopes for this newest version. The reason why? It’s made by Americans. Holmes is a distinctly British concept and, I know many will not agree with me, Americans simply don’t understand Holmes. And it is because of that, because of the American television medium, that I am sure that (should this series last long enough), there will be a romantic relationship between the characters. American television cannot conceive of a man and a woman working together and being friends. They have a long tradition of forcing such characters into relationships in the misguided notion that “this is what America wants”. I don’t know if it’s what American wants but it’s not what I want. Holmes and Watson work because they embody a true friendship that transcends emotions. I just can’t see American TV embracing that.

    • Ronny says:

      I agree, and my hopes aren’t high. In fact, that is one of the reasons this quote from Lucy Liu caught my attention. I like the idea of a female Watson, but fear for how they treat the relationship. Her take provides a small ray of sunshine, but the show has a long uphill climb to prove itself. The American take aside, simply being run concurrently with the Cumberbatch and Freeman series makes it an almost impossible hurdle. I can’t help but compare the two. Add to that an American slant and it seems a tough climb. That said, I hope they pull it off.

  2. dreygeaux says:

    Yeah, I’m not holding my breath for this one. I’ll give it a try, but based on the preview, the focus is already wrong. Where is the deduction? We see the quirks, we see the relationship build between Holmes and Watson, but we see precious little of the deductive prowess.

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