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Old May 17 2012, 02:28 AM   #193
Christopher
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Re: Lucy Liu cast as Watson in CBS' Sherlock Holmes show

Angel4576 wrote: View Post
I think that's true of ensemble shows like the CSIs. However Elementary, I would imagine, will be more akin to The Mentalist, Castle or Bones, in that there is a distinct male and female lead, with a group of peripheral characters supporting. Under those circumstances I'd still wager that at some point, we're going to see it.
You know, I think I've had this whole debate back when this thread was new, but just for the hell of it: If they are following the pattern of the Holmes canon, then logically one would expect Joan Watson to meet a male equivalent to Mary Morstan and end up in a romance with him that leads to marriage. And I'll be surprised if Elementary doesn't follow the standard practice of Holmes adaptations of including Irene Adler as Holmes's primary romantic interest.

Also, it may be premature to assume that this isn't going to be an ensemble show. Indications are that Aidan Quinn's Captain Gregson is going to be a major character (based on a minor character from the canon), and the promo certainly played up the Latino Lestrade equivalent as a core player. So that's at least four central characters.


Personally, as per above, I think they'd have got better narrative mileage out of casting a black Holmes than a female Watson.
Why? The only way that a character's ethnicity could possibly be relevant is if the stories addressed issues of racism or classism, and American TV today usually isn't willing to tackle such questions outright. Ethnicity is pretty much a neutral trait in TV these days. When Laurence Fishburne took over as the CSI lead, the fact that Dr. Langston was black never became an issue as far as I recall.

And what the hell has "narrative mileage" got to do with it anyway? Like I said, why shouldn't women or nonwhite actors get the same opportunity to play these great characters as white men have had? Does there have to be a special reason to make one or both of them female? Can't it just be about playing fair?


Well I think there's definitely truth in the last point I think. It's almost like they have a checklist - male lead, check. Female lead, check. Ethnic characters, check. Again, I'd rather have had a black Holmes, a male Watson, and take the 'buddy' route, casting off any temptation to play the shipper angle which has been done to death, and continues to be done to death.
I think it's an antiquated notion at best to assume that a "buddy" relationship can only exist between two people of the same sex, or that any male-female relationship has to be romantic. Lots of men and women are just friends with each other, both in real life and on TV. We've had a number of male-female "buddy" relationships in various shows, relationships where the possibility of romance wasn't even remotely on the table because the characters saw each other more as surrogate siblings or surrogate father and daughter.


Does there have to be a limit on what changes are made? Of course not, but if I were a Holmes fan, or had interest enough to go out of my way to watch this then I'd expect to recognize certain fundamentals.
And it's wrong to think that the fundamentals of the Holmes-Watson relationship require them both to be male. Hell, Watson's role has always been as the more emotional, socially adept, nurturing member of the pair. So if anything, a female Watson is a natural idea. (And it wouldn't be the first time. The 1987 backdoor pilot movie The Return of Sherlock Holmes starred Margaret Colin as Jane Watson, a descendant of Dr. John Watson who discovered and awoke a cryogenically frozen Sherlock Holmes and became his partner.)
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