And Lucy Liu Just Confirms she’s not Watson

This is an old article, but in case you weren’t convinced, here she is herself:

“Who Watson is now is someone who’s on the sideline; she’s his sober companion, she’s engaged in him, not the mystery,” she noted. “From that point on you get to see how that blossoms out. The foot-in-the-bucket and that kind of Watson happens because in entertainment, there’s got to be a sidekick. In this case, that’s not the direction we’re going in. Ask me in six episodes and if I have a foot in a bucket then we’ll have a discussion.”

This is why Lucy Liu is not Watson in any meaningful way. Watson IS the sidekick. He (or she, as it were) is NOT Holmes’s partner or even his protege. Watson is meant to assist Holmes and to provide his unique skills and talents when useful. Making Holmes and Watson’s relationship the same as Olivia and Stabler’s in “Law and Order: SVU” changes the entire purpose of the character, which is to complement Holmes and be his foil, not to partner with Holmes and be his equal.

And this is why, no matter how good “Elementary” is, I’ll never be able to accept it as a good Sherlock Holmes adaptation. Because this relationship, at least when it’s included (there are good Holmes pastiches that don’t have Watson in them), is so central to the Holmes canon that to deviate from it in such a fundamental way is to not be Sherlock Holmes. If you’re not going to include Watson, then don’t include Watson. Just don’t stick him in a dress, keep the name, and expect us to act as if it’s the same character, because it’s not.

Sigh. And here I was in the middle of writing a cheerful post about “The Great Mouse Detective”, and then I find this. Super-fans who tend to geek out like I do should know what I’m talking about when I say that I feel very strongly about this.

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9 Responses to And Lucy Liu Just Confirms she’s not Watson

  1. Ilíon says:

    While I have absolutely no interest in the show, I don’t see your (often expressed) reaction as a matter of “geeking out”, nor as anything to be ashamed of. It’s a mater of fundamental honesty.

    • Heh, true.

      You’ll notice if you look through the archives that I go through stages of prolonged and fairly intense interest in certain subjects. Right now I’m on a Sherlock Holmes kick because the new season of “Sherlock” recently came out, which only happens every two years.

  2. BenYachov says:

    Lucy Lui as Watson. I am reminded of something The Cat from Red Dwarf said, “I could go with Betty but I would be thinking of Wilma”.

    Thus her interpretation of Watson is interesting but Freeman is the standard for me. She is good and I was not bored but Freeman is the Wilma here dude. She is Betty.

    • I think her acting is fine. Her character isn’t even bad, per se. I just don’t think you can say she’s portraying even an analogous character from the original stories. The way the show portrays the Holmes and Watson dynamic turns it into another garden variety “partner” drama, like Law and Order: SVU, Castle, or Bones. All of which are decent shows, but none of which, like Elementary, are Sherlock Holmes.

  3. Drew says:

    I don’t feel like the show Sherlock does all that great of a job of portraying the dynamic, either. And the most recent movies were horrible. Among other flaws, both the recent show and the recent movies make Watson too tough, and too mean. Watson in the books is very nice, boring, and sort of a wimp. He’s like Dr. Wilson on House M.D. Overall, I think the show House did the best job of portraying the Sherlock-Watson dynamic, except that in that show, House (Sherlock) is too mean.

    • The character doesn’t need to be exactly accurate. It just needs to portray the relationship correctly and get the important parts of the character right. Both “Sherlock” and the RDJ movies (which I liked quite a bit) did very well in this regard. “Elementary” fails utterly.

      I’ve never been a huge fan of book Watson, but while he’s rather a pushover when it comes to Holmes, he’s certainly no wimp. He’s an Afghan war vet, wounded in combat, who frequently goes on dangerous cases with Holmes and once broke into a man’s house to support his friend despite specifically being told not to go. He’s also physically fit and a crack shot. He takes a lot of flack from Holmes, but in many ways he’s pretty badass.

    • That said, the House/Wilson dynamic was definitely portrayed very well in terms of connecting it to the Holmes canon.

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