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Old May 17 2012, 05:21 PM   #201
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Re: Lucy Liu cast as Watson in CBS' Sherlock Holmes show

Christopher wrote: View Post
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.
I don't know that they'll be following the canon that closely. Most likely they'll take the two lead characters and then drop them into the standard CBS-drama template.

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.
Granted this is more from expectation rather than observation, however I think it's fairly clear that the vast majority of the show's focus is going to be on Holmes and Watson. There will be screentime for the other characters obviously, but I doubt that they'll receive anywhere near as much screentime as JLM or LL.

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.
Racism or classism? Why are we limited to that? Surely there's more to ethnicity than skin colour and social divides.

A teacher was talking to four students, one each from America, Europe, Africa and China. He asked them, "What is your personal opinion of the international food shortage?" The American said "What's international?" The European said "What's a shortage?" The African said "What's food?" The student from China said "What's a personal opinion?"
Cultural idiosyncrasies - a black Holmes would defacto have the same cultural background and values as a white Holmes?

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?
They should get those opportunities. Of course they should. Personally though, it thoroughly fails to impress me when such changes are made for change's sake. Have the writers made this change to benefit the series and the stories that they'll be able to tell? Or is it a cheap grab for a certain audience that they know they'll be able to lock in? Hopefully it's the former, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's the latter. Guess we'll find out.

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.
Perhaps it's just the shows that I watch, but it seems more common than uncommon that shows with a couple of leads generally tend to eventually flirt with shippers if not going down that route completely. I'm bored with that. At least try and be different if you're going down that route. Sherlock obviously has the running gag about Holmes and Watson as a couple - play is straight (pardon the pun), be different. I'd rather they did that than go down the route that many shows have been before. Again though, never going to happen as it would alienate a certain element of the audience. CBS is the most-watched network and it's not hard to see why - their vanilla product rarely ventures past what it perceives to be safe.

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.)
I think it's fair to say that the archetypal interpretation of the story is going to lead to the expectation that Holmes and Watson are male. I doubt that many heard the news that there was going to be a new Sherlock Holmes series and instantly concluded that this would probably feature a male Holmes and female Watson. Why would they?

Besides The Return of Sherlock Holmes, there was also the later movie Sherlock Holmes Returns, with Debrah Farentino. Although she wasn't playing Watson, or a variant of Watson, it did represent another example of them trying to work a male/female dynamic with the story.

Both of the examples above changed the fundamental dynamic of Holmes/Watson, both transplanted the action to America, and both moved the story into the modern era. Neither story met with much success.

I see that Moffet's already raised a similar concern regarding Elementary;

They've got three big changes: it's Sherlock Holmes in America, it's Sherlock Holmes updated and it's Sherlock Holmes with a female Watson. I wonder if he's Sherlock Holmes in any sense other than he's called Sherlock Holmes?
Perhaps CBS should have gone down the route of having Holmes be blind, and Watson could have been his guide dog. Sounds emminently more interesting than what they look like they're going to be serving up here.
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