I’ve just picked up the paper on my way to work and seen that CBS have cast Lucy Liu to play the role of Doctor Watson alongside Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes in their pilot television series Elementary.
In the series, Holmes will be an ex-consultant to Scotland Yard who is now living in Brooklyn after a spell in rehab for addition problems. He lives with Watson, his ‘sober companion’ who is a former surgeon – and FEMALE.
How do I feel about this, well I can’t really decide and I need to start work any second now. Why shouldn’t a doctor, a surgeon, be female in this modern age? In some ways it makes sense, creates an interesting new dynamic and adds a strong female character lacking in the original stories. Sometimes creative genius can come from keeping a character essentially the same but changing something like their gender or race. Will this work?
My gut feeling is that it won’t – it’s just a leap too far. It’s turning Holmes and Watson into a shiny, slick, Americanised, glamorous CSI-type series. Too commercial, too mainstream, and unlikely to ever make someone want to read the original. It’s more likely to make them forget that Holmes even existed in print before CBS got their teeth into him. It feels more like they are trying to eclipse the original than pay tribute to it.
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