Lucy Liu cast as Watson in CBS' Sherlock Holmes show

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

  1. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The BBC has informed CBS that they could sue if there are too many similarities between their respective modern day takes on Sherlock Holmes, so there's a legal and financial impetus for CBS to make their modern take on Holmes as different from the BBC take as possible.
     
  2. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Anyone else remember An East Wind Coming by Arthur Byron Cover, in which Holmes is an ageless super-being hunting Jack the Ripper through a decadent far-future society?

    This sounds positively conservative by comparison!
     
  3. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That's really not a good reason.
     
  4. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My bad. I saw that he said that Holmes had never been updated as a modern character and my brain stopped at that point, because it wasn't true, since it had been done in the 1930s and 1940s. No offense to Christopher meant. :)
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    For someone so fiercely defending the purity of the Holmes canon, your understanding of it is incredibly superficial. The essence of Dr. Watson isn't "white male British army veteran." Those are just surface trappings. The essence of Dr. Watson is Holmes's best and only friend, the only person who can get through Holmes's shell and the only one willing to put up with him, a brave and stalwart ally who has his back no matter what, a person intelligent enough to have Holmes's respect yet still a pupil with much to learn from the master, and a writer who chronicles Holmes's adventures and serves as the audience surrogate. There's absolutely nothing in that requiring the character to be a certain race, nationality, or sex, not in the modern era, anyway.


    It already sounds pretty different, what with the New York setting, Holmes being in rehab, and Watson being his sobriety coach. And of course it's a good thing to make it distinctive.


    Sure, and as cited already, Holmes has often been sent into the future by cryogenics or time travel or immortality or whatever, but he's usually still a Victorian man by origin. So having him be of contemporary origin is still fairly unusual.

    Although there have been a number of SF stories putting incarnations or pastiches of Holmes into futuristic settings, enough for at least one anthology's worth; I know Asimov wrote at least one of them.
     
  6. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    To be honest, I started to tap out a response to that line as well, then read the final paragraph again . . . .
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, in fact I did initially forget about the Rathbone films, and I thought about rephrasing that earlier paragraph, but I figured it still works, because I didn't say "It never happened before," I just said "I'm surprised it took so long." If the Rathbone films were the last time Holmes has been portrayed as a modern-day character before Moffat did it, that's a gap of 63 years, just over half the lifespan of Holmes as a character. Which is a pretty long time to go by without anyone trying it.
     
  8. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    If this show were on the CW, the two leads could be male, and there could be plenty of slashy subtext, it fact it would be mandatory. But the leads would also be 30 year old actors who look 20 and would look like Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder.

    Every channel has its own audience and things it must do to please that audience. I suspect the overlap between CBS viewers and TrekBBS habitues is close to zero. So the fact that people are bitching about it, is really missing the point. They aren't making this show for us.

    And the name is the same idea as nuBSG - just slap a well-known brand on your show so that the bean-counters will be mollified and the show will be greenlit. Then do whatever the frak you want with it (within the constraints of what is possible on the channel the show is on - in CBS' case, those constraints are stricter than most.)

    I guess that's why the complaints seem so familiar. The GINO crowd was pretty pisssed at RDM once upon a time, too. But in their case, they had some reason for their ire. There can only be one BSG show on at any given time, because somebody owns the copyright and has to approve it.

    But Sherlock Holmes has long since passed into the public domain, so CBS's version doesn't prevent any other version that might appear. Nothing is being lost, except for a CBS timeslot, and we all know they're not going to do anything interesting with their timeslots anyway.
    You should go talk with the GINO crowd so you can see yourself in a mirror. They insisted that Starbuck MUST be male the same way you're insisting that Watson MUST be British. There's no artistic validity to an attitude like that.

    However, Christopher is being extremely naive in assuming that CBS is making these changes in the interest of creating something with artistic validity. If HBO were doing it, yeah, sure. But I'd bet serious money that CBS changed Watson's gender exactly for the reasons Dream suspects.

    And they changed his/her nationality, not to mention moved the action to New York, because do you really think CBS is going to go film a show in London? Hello, BUDGET! Plus their audience would prefer to watch a show with mainly American characters, since that is what they are used to.

    CBS knows its business. These changes are in the interests of commerce, not art, and have bupkis to do with any of us or what we want.
    It's not lazy at all. It's disciplined and precise, in the same way that McDonald's insistence on total standardization in the food they produce is disciplined and precise, allowing for no variation that might confuse or upset their clientele.

    Whether or not you like eating at McDonald's comes down to individual tastes. But you don't become a successful business like McDonald's or CBS by being "lazy." CBS is making Watson female for the same reason as McDonald's isn't going to be making a tofu burger anytime soon. Anyone who wants a male Watson and/or a tofu burger has other options that they are free to pursue.

    Good point. That alone could justify changing Watson's race and gender (if commercial considerations weren't also impelling that choice.) Ditto for moving the action to New York.

    You wouldn't have a problem, but you're not a CBS viewer. CBS is assiduously working to give their audience what they want. You can criticize the CBS viewer for being too "stupid" to like what you like, but I'm sure they'd feel the same way about you. I think people are stupid for eating at McDonald's, which serves nasty crap that destroys your health, but I know exactly how much that would count with anyone who likes their Big Mac for lunch every day with a double order of fries.

    And if the CBS honchos are stupid, I would love to be that "stupid." They are the most successful broadcast network, in an industry that is going through dire times, which they've achieved by being relentlessly self-disciplined and keeping their eye on the ball. They are laughing all the way to the bank.
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Not quite zero. I watch a number of shows on CBS.


    I have never claimed to make any such assumption about this specific project. I'm just saying it's narrow-minded and ignorant of the creative process to claim as an absolute rule that it's somehow wrong to change a story when you adapt it. I freely admit that CBS's pilot might be creatively bankrupt and mercenary and awful -- lots of pilots are -- but if that's the case, it won't be a failure simply because Watson has breasts and epicanthic folds.

    And even if the creative decisions behind a show are made for reasons of mercenary calculation and demographic pandering, that doesn't preclude the possibility that the network could hire writing staffers who are genuinely talented and care about the material. It doesn't guarantee they will, but we don't know they won't. After all, every show's commissioning has some level of that kind of calculation behind it, but the people doing that calculation are generally not the ones actually writing and producing the show. I'm sure that the WB executives who decided to buy Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a series were thinking of the sex appeal and the high school melodrama and the action and all that superficial stuff that went into a lot of the shows they bought, but that didn't preclude Whedon from being a creative genius.

    Now, I don't look at the name "Robert J. Doherty" and expect genius, but maybe he's improved considerably since Voyager. He did some good work on Tru Calling, certainly. So I'm willing to give him a chance. I'm not going to assume his work will stink before I've seen what he actually does. Because I always keep in mind Sherlock Holmes's own words:

    "It is a capital mistake to theorise in advance of the facts."
     
  10. Captaindemotion

    Captaindemotion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Lest we forget, Arthur Conan Doyle married Watson off, then moved him back into 221B Baker Street and conveniently failed to mention the Mrs again. Then he killed off Holmes and brought him back with a dodgy explanation that William Shatner wouldn't have dared put into The Return. Deviating from the canon didn't begin with Lucy Liu!
     
  11. Joel_Kirk

    Joel_Kirk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think it would have been more adventurous to cast an Asian man as Sherlock Holmes, and a white female as Watson....and have the "sexual tension" in that regards. (Especially since Asian men are usually seen as asexual, or computer nerds, etc...)

    That would have been something different.

    Lucy Liu has played this type of role before, so it's technically nothing new.
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actually Holmes's death was quite easy to retcon, since it happened "offscreen." There were no witnesses and they never found a body. Doyle wanted to kill off Holmes for good, but he inadvertently chose the easiest possible kind of character death to undo.
     
  13. Captaindemotion

    Captaindemotion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ And thus an entire template for black and white cliffhanger serials was created!
     
  14. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    PLOT HOLE!!!!!
     
  15. PKTrekGirl

    PKTrekGirl Arrogant Niner Thug Admiral

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    Zero interest here in watching Lucy Liu as Watson. And I say this as someone who has seen every single Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes movie.


    I have been giving serious thought to trying out the British show...but already this American version is losing my interest, and it hasn't even started production yet.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I find that ironic, given that Nigel Bruce's version was perhaps the most inauthentic portrayal of Watson ever, taking this brave, stalwart man of action who was intelligent enough to pull off a dual career as a doctor and a published author and reducing him to a bumbling imbecile. I think Ms. Liu is easily capable of playing a far more authentic Watson than Mr. Bruce ever did.
     
  17. PKTrekGirl

    PKTrekGirl Arrogant Niner Thug Admiral

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    Who said anything about the classic film version being 'authentic'? In fact, I point out my love of them precisely because they ARE 'inauthentic'. And I liked them anyway! While this new inauthentic version (and yes, it is inauthentic), I have no interest in.

    And sorry...but Lucy Liu playing a character that is written as a male is indeed 'inauthentic'. But I have a LOT less interest in seeing that than in seeing Nigel Bruce...who I quite enjoyed despite his inability to carry off a frakkin' mini-skirt....which I presume is the primary reason for making Watson into an attractive female.

    Sad that every frakkin' thing is this country has to be about sex, to the point where the producers of the American version don't have confidence a show will succeed with the male demographic unless it contains beautiful women, short skirts and catsuits. Pity, if we are truly that shallow.

    Oh...and by the way...Nigel Bruce happens to have been a fine actor. Just because the character was a 'bumbling imbecile' (who, by the way, fans LOVED) doesn't mean he was.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But trivial. I'd say that Watson's intelligence, physical prowess, and competence are far more important to who the character is than the fact that he has a Y chromosome and can grow a moustache. The idea that there's some fundamental, insurmountable difference between characters "written as a male" and characters written as female is outdated, chauvinistic rubbish. There are differences, yes, but we now have tons of female characters in fiction who are more than capable in roles that were once considered exclusively suited for men, whether action hero or brilliant scientist or tough cop or hero's best platonic friend or President of the United States.


    Now, that's just sexist, assuming that the only relevant trait Lucy Liu has going for her is her looks.


    You're ignoring the fact that male actors are cast for their sex appeal too. Come on, look at the current Holmes movie series -- you think Jude Law wasn't cast for his looks? And here's the guy playing Holmes in this pilot, Jonny Lee Miller. I'm not much of a judge of male attractiveness, but he looks to me like someone women would find attractive.

    Like I said, half of CBS's audience is female, so it's incredibly naive to think they're only interested in selling sex to heterosexual men. Women have always been a major target demographic for television, since women have traditionally been responsible for a lot of the purchasing decisions in a household. And so TV shows have always tried to make the male characters sexy as well as the female ones. Sure, Lt. Uhura and the yeomen wore miniskirts, but how often did Captain Kirk lose his shirt? And it was Spock who got the overwhelming majority of the fan mail from lovestruck female viewers.

    So no, they didn't cast Lucy Liu solely to make male viewers horny. They no doubt cast her because they want the women who make up half their audience to have a strong female lead character they can relate to. Remember that Watson is the viewpoint character of the entire series -- not someone who's looked at from outside, but someone through whose eyes we see the adventures, the everyperson that we identify with. Making that character a woman helps attract women to the show, at least in theory.


    Huh? I never said anything about the actor. I was just saying that the version of Watson he played is drastically revisionist, so if you liked that interpretation, it's a double standard to reject another revisionist interpretation out of hand.
     
  19. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    People who have read the books are the exception.

    The rest of the filth don't know why they know these characters because the identity of Holmes and Watson has been programmed into them form a hundred different directions inadvertently by a living zeitgeist the size of human conciousness.
     
  20. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Oh, you need to see Sherlock. It's brilliant. I've had a couple of friends who reacted with skepticism to the idea of a modern-day Holmes, but once they actually watched it, they realized just how cleverly Sherlock was executed.

    I mean, I enjoyed the first Downey/Law movie (haven't see the sequel yet), but the modern show blows it away.