Lucy Liu cast as Watson in CBS' Sherlock Holmes show

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Dream, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. Angel4576

    Angel4576 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Urgh - another bland procedural.

    I had been prepared to give this a go, but from the trailer it looks evident that they're going with the tried and tested CBS formula +/- 2%.
     
  2. Professor Zoom

    Professor Zoom Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Haven't watched the trailer yet, but I already have my misgivings because of Lucy Liu. I find her a horrible actress, bland beyond wooden. I honestly don't know how she keeps finding work.
     
  3. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    This. I can't stand her at all.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I thought plenty about it was Holmes-like. An eccentric detective who has a knack for deductions based on details nobody else notices, but who also has addiction issues and limited social skills and an unconventional way of doing things; a more normal partner/assistant who anchors him; a police detective with whom he has a relationship of mutual dislike (although the character isn't named Lestrade).

    If that feels like a standard detective show, maybe that's because most detective fiction owes a debt to the Holmes canon. The archetypal work in a genre often seems cliched in retrospect because everything afterward recycles its tropes. But really, the core strength of the Holmes stories was never in the cases or the story structure as much as in the characters and their relationship. We'll have to see how that plays out on this show.
     
  5. Angel4576

    Angel4576 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Casting Watson as female must have narrowly edged out having a black Holmes. Just transplanting the story from Victorian-era England to modern-day America was never going to be enough afterall..... :rolleyes:
     
  6. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm getting old. I'm less excited by someone I haven't met and can't smell.

    Back in the 90s, I didn't have time to think about anything past the ludicrous words coming out of her mouth about giving hair, kneepits and dumbsticks. What she looked like didn't matter because of who David E Kelly had her say that her character was.

    Ally McBeal was sooooooo long ago.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I could certainly have gotten behind, say, Colin Salmon as Holmes. Why not? Holmes and Watson are two of the great roles of English literature, and they've been played by many different actors and interpreted in many different ways. Why should only white men be allowed to play them?

    And for that matter, why shouldn't they be transplanted to different eras and cultures? There have been a number of Holmes pastiches set in outer space or the future. Heck, we're just coming to the end of an 8-year run for a TV series that's basically Holmes as a brilliant doctor (namely House, which is playing off the fact that Doyle based Holmes on a real-life doctor he'd known). The great archetypes are always open to reinvention and variation.
     
  8. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Salmon would work. Hell, he'd have made a great James Bond, too.
     
  9. Angel4576

    Angel4576 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I wouldn't have a problem with a Black Holmes - in fact I find that far more interesting than a female Watson. It's also far less predictable a change for CBS to have made. How many episodes is it going to take them before they start hinting at a 'will they/won't they' thing? I'll bet it's not long.

    Changing things is fine when it's borne of a genuine intention to explore different aspects of a story. This however, is most likely more to do with CBS wanting to pull in the shipper audience.

    Re the location/era change, I don't necessarily have a problem with that as both make sense, given that it's an American series. Given the magnitude of these changes to the original story though, you'd have thought that this alone would have given them enough to play around with.

    Edit: Given the nature of the Holmes character, I'd suggest Adrian Lester over Colin Salmon. :)
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Not necessarily. There are plenty of shows on TV, including on CBS, where the male and female leads are never treated as potential romantic partners. There was never any romantic subplot between CSI's Grissom (or Langston or Russell) and Willows, or between CSI: NY's Mac Taylor and either of his female leads, or between Goren and Eames on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, or between Reese and Carter on Person of Interest. We're well past the old days when it was assumed that female characters could only be love interests.

    On the other hand, I did see a hint of a "chemistry beat" between them in one of the clips in the preview. And heck, it's not like the implication of romance between Holmes and Watson is anything new, at least where some fans are concerned (see Moffat's Sherlock and the running gag where everyone assumes Sherlock and John are a couple).


    Like I've said, there are plenty of CBS shows that are not built around "ships" between their male and female leads. So I don't see any reason to conclude that here. Don't you think it could've simply been out of a desire to be more inclusive? After all, they cast an Asian actress as Watson and a Latino as the Lestrade equivalent. Maybe they just dislike the idea of a show without a central female character.


    Why does there have to be a limit to how many changes they make? Especially since there's a competing modern-Holmes show on in the UK at the same time, and the producers of that show have hinted they might raise a legal challenge if the shows are too similar. So the producers of Elementary have an incentive to differentiate it from Sherlock as much as they can.
     
  11. Angel4576

    Angel4576 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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. Personally, as per above, I think they'd have got better narrative mileage out of casting a black Holmes than a female Watson.

    Re the second point, well yes, there is that! :lol:


    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.

    Despite the sabre-rattling there's only so much that the BBC and Moffet could actually do as almost all of the original narrative is now in the public domain in the US. Any similarities that exist between the two shows that are derived from the source material would be fair game. If, however, their version took Sherlock, turned him black, made Watson female, had them as lovers, transported the story to outer Mongolia and had them consulting for the Mongolese secret police, and so did the US version, then they may have a case.

    As it is, the only similarity between the two shows outside of the source material is that they're both set in a modern context. It's unlikely that the BBC would get anywhere with any legal challenge with that as their sole foundation.

    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.
     
  12. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Based on the promo video, the backstories are different in Sherlock and Elementary, and I wouldn't be surprised if Watson's military background was dropped in Elementary simply to avoid a problem with Sherlock. I also wouldn't be surprised if Elementary's Watson wasn't a writer for the same reason.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.


    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?


    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.


    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.)
     
  14. Borgminister

    Borgminister Admiral Moderator

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    I'll give it a chance, but from the teaser, it doesn't look and feel like anything special.

    Unlike Sherlock on the BBC, which nails it perfectly.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, whether it's "Holmes-like" and whether it's "anything special" are two separate questions. The former is not an assessment of quality; there have been plenty of mediocre or poor adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, and for that matter not all of the original stories were equally good. So I'm not saying I expect it to be good (that remains to be seen), just that it does seem to incorporate the basics of the Holmes premise and characters.
     
  16. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Do we call a strict admiration the genre Holmesian or Doyley?
     
  17. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't watch a whole lot of stuff on CBS and haven't watched a 'first-run' procedural in quite a while, and I think this is going to be a fun series. I also have to agree with Christopher (and repeat something I think I've already said at least once before in this thread) in denouncing this idea that the writers are going to pair up Holmes and Watson romantically simply because they've chosen to male Watson a woman.

    As to the notion of whether things are 'Holmesian' enough, I was reminded of the relationship between RDJ's Holmes and Jude Law's Watson, so I think things are going to be more than sufficiently Holmesian.
     
  18. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah I could see that, Lester can play quirky better than Salmon (who would have made a good 007) that said I'm still hoping he'll turn up as the Master at some point...:)
     
  19. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    Just watched the video.

    It is pretty meh. As others have said, it's pretty much just an American procedural.

    I guess it depends on Miller's performance. However, it will be hard not to compare him to Shalhoub or D'onofrio both of which are very difficult to match.

    Not to digress, but I haven't seen him since he hacked the planet. If I hadn't known who he was,, I wouldn't have recognized him.
     
  20. Lonemagpie

    Lonemagpie Writer Admiral

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    Based on the promo video...

    Meh, it'd be better if they just renamed the character and pretended it was original- could be a fun mystery show, but the cop is cliched, the cinematography and direction is ripping off Sherlock, and Johnny Lee Miller is just... knocking off House and The Mentalist, with no charm. Both Cumberbatch and Downey kick the living shit out of him without breaking a sweat...