New Sherlock Holmes and She-Watson

CBS announced last week that they have decided to create a modern, updated version of the tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless hero called Elementary, probably inspired by the roaring success of the BBC’s Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  The new American series will be set in New York and they’ve already cast the British actor, Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone, 2008-9) and Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, 2000) as Joan Watson, his female accomplice.  This decision has set the Sherlock fanbase alight and everyone seems to be tearing their hair out…

Lucy Liu (Image from WIkipedia)

Lucy Liu has been cast as Joan Watson in the new American Sherlock Holmes series (Image from WIkipedia)

Holmes will be an ex-British Police consultant, brought to NYC to a drug-rehabilitation centre.  He has returned from rehab and is living with Joan Watson, a surgeon who has lost her medical licence.

On the one hand, it will be hard not to compare it to the BBC’s modern adaptation which was made extraordinarily well.  It also sounds vaguely familiar for those who watch Castle and other such programmes.  Some say that because Watson might become a love interest for Holmes, the producers might be tempted to swerve away from the original books too much, or even that it would become disrespectful to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s memory as he firmly disbelieved that there were any romantic feelings between the pair.  He wrote about an incredible friendship; however, will the CBS writers be able to recreate the same dynamics after such a controversial change?  Why didn’t they make Sherlock a woman, too?  A female Holmes and Watson team could rival Charlie’s Angels any day…

Johnny Lee Miller

Jonny Lee Miller will play Holmes

However, on a positive note, they’ve certainly got the casting right.  Jonny Lee Miller is a British actor who was great in two of my favourite TV mini-series and films, Emma, 2009 and Mansfield Park, 1999.  Lucy Liu is a brilliant actress, already well established in the action/crime genre.  Casting is critical and this certainly balances out any doubts which I have.

There’s just a hint of hypocrisy amongst the angry Holmes-loving fans; when the plans for the programme were first made public, almost everyone was upset that the Elementary would be too similar to the BBC’s, now they are upset that it will be too different?  Yes, it could fail spectacularly or become an instant success, but it has not come out yet!

Johnny Lee Miller (Image from the BBC)

Jonny Lee Miller played Knightley in Emma, 2009 (Image from the BBC)

I’m excited to see how this classic adaptation with a modern twist pans out.  After all, the BBC’s Sherlock may not continue forever as I’m sure the stars will want to move on to brighter screens eventually. Cumberbatch seems to be rising rapidly in popularity; after Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, I’m sure that Hollywood is calling.  I’ve also heard rumours that Cumberbatch could be in Doctor Who, perhaps as The Master??



12 thoughts on “New Sherlock Holmes and She-Watson

  1. The main reasons for the BBC’s success with Sherlock was a combination of Benedict Cumberbatch excellent acting and a well written clever script. I do not want to sound condescending but I cannot see the American version being clever and subtle like the original novels were. Why am I imagining some horrible fusion of 24 and CSI?

    • You make a very valid point; Elementary will not be able to top Sherlock’s fantastic cinematography and the ingenious script. It might be more ‘adapted’ to the American audience (to fit in with other programmes like NCIS and Bones), but there are other ways in which it could still prove itself. CBS will probably pump lots of money into it, making lots of episodes and therefore having an advantage over Sherlock, who make high-quality mini-movies three times a year…

      • Another stumbling block in my opinion, Sherlock was a short series, had its moment in the sun so to say and didn’t over stay its welcome. What I’ve usually noticed is that the longer a tv series hangs around the more the novelty wears off. Lost being my prime example.

      • There is always room for exceptions! Friends went on for 10 years and The Simpsons recently celebrated the release of their 500th episode :P Haha, I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out. :)

  2. I’m not a fan of the recent BBC adaptation but I am very excited at the prospect of seeing JLM as Sherlock! I too loved him in Mansfield Park. Sigh. Like your blog – some really interesting stuff on here and I love the layout!

    • You don’t like Sherlock?! Why ever not? :O (I forgive you because you “loved” JLM in Mansfield Park, an amazing film haha :P). Me too, fingers crossed for Elementary! Thanks so much! I was thinking of changing the theme because it’s kind of annoying not having a side bar; however, since you like it I’ll reconsider. ;)

      • I could never warm to Cumberbatch as Holmes; I’m in the minority, I know! Hmm, side bars are really useful to have. If there was way to incorporate them and still keep the readability and ‘clean’ look….

  3. I absolutely love your blog. Thank you so much for reading my posts, it means the world to me. Very interesting post – a female (*Joan*) Watson is not a very appealing idea to me. I’ve been a Sherlockian all my life, and the idea of turning Watson into a woman is, albeit original, very alien to me.

  4. I have to admit I’m a little wary about this production – JLM as Holmes sounds very interesting, but I’m not too keen on a female Watson. When it comes to re-makes of film, usually my response is ‘The more the merrier!’ but I think CBS have set themselves a huge task here – to be better or as good as Sherlock is currently is asking a great deal! I think the main fears amongst Sherlock fans are that it will be a bad copy, and in that sense both too similar and too different. Nonetheless, I’m interested to see how it turns out! :)

    • Hi, Abby :) Thanks for stopping by! Yes, and I think what people might also be worried about is that if this becomes more popular in the US than the current series, other people might think that Sherlock was a copy of Elementary! :S I know what you mean though, ‘Joan Watson’ sounds a bit… risky… I can’t wait until it comes out to see how they’ve dealt with it! (Although it’s likely to be rather predictable)… :P

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