12:16 pm - 12/19/2012

Elementary: Female Watson 'Started as a Joke'

Rob Doherty's choice to pair Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock Holmes with a woman resulted in fall's No. 1 new series, and inclusion in THR's 2012 Rule Breakers portfolio.

"It started out as something of a joke," creator Rob Doherty confesses of his decision to make the Watson in his Sherlock Holmes tale a woman. When he began to research the story's original characters, he came across a handful of experts who had written up psychological assessments of Sherlock; one of them had noted an aversion to women.

"I thought to myself, 'What would make Holmes crazier than taking the figurative rock he has in Watson and making him a woman?' I scribbled it down and then went back to my research," the 38-year-old Elementary showrunner continues. "The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to try it."

The result: casting Asian-American film star Lucy Liu as the first female Watson opposite Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock and an impressive 13.9 million viewers tuning in weekly, making Elementary the No. 1 new series with total viewers this fall. (Among the key 18-to-49 set, the series ranks No. 2 behind only NBC's breakout Revolution.) And come February, the CBS drama -- one of the season's few hits with critics and audiences alike -- will get the coveted post-Super Bowl slot.
The show's stars, Liu, 44, and Miller, 40, still are making sense of the series' success, particularly rewarding because the show colors outside the lines in a way that excites both of them.

"To me, one of the best things you can do in this profession is to take a risk," says Miller, whose co-star plays sober coach to his recovering-addict Sherlock. Liu says the tweak in formula can liberate the story in other ways as well: "There's an endless supply of unpredictability that we can delve into and we can change and add. It will still be a pound cake, but it could be marble, it could be lemon, it could be poppy seed."

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obscuriglobus 20th-Dec-2012 02:41 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but I just wanted to point out that Lucy Liu is far from the first female Watson (Though it's the first time I'm aware of that Watson has been racebent so Yay). I think this is why I'm still mildly pressed they cut her army background. Whenever they have a female Watson they ALWAYS ALWAYS cut out her militry background and I was hoping a modern version would finally be able to include it.

In fact there is a russian movie from the '80s called "My Dearly Beloved Detective" where BOTH Sherlock and Watson are female and BAMF :D
sherlockholmes 20th-Dec-2012 02:45 am (UTC)
Yeah, I know she's been female before and lbr, Martha Jones was, in my eyes, female Watson as well.
obscuriglobus 20th-Dec-2012 03:08 am (UTC)
I thought you would know, I just wanted to point it out because the article said she was the first and noone had corrected it yet.

I never thought of that, but in retrospect that's so true, after all The Doctor and The Master's characters were influenced by Holmes and Moriarity. It makes me love her even more now. I do love my Watsons ;) (just argh at the writers for making her pine for the Doctor all the time)
pastelstar 20th-Dec-2012 02:45 am (UTC)
Love this show
chantonii 20th-Dec-2012 05:54 am (UTC)
Flawless OP <3
sherlockholmes 20th-Dec-2012 05:54 am (UTC)

michelleantonia 20th-Dec-2012 10:58 am (UTC)
I love this show AND the BBC Sherlock (although comments in here about BBC Sherlock being harder to like/sympathize with than JLM Sherlock are spot on). I rly appreciate when fans are open to and supportive of both, like OP.

I hate January but I can't wait for this to come back :)
sherlockholmes 20th-Dec-2012 01:04 pm (UTC)
Aw, shucks! Ty!
mjspice 21st-Dec-2012 11:52 am (UTC)
Started as a joke, ended as epic. XD
spiffynamehere 21st-Dec-2012 09:10 pm (UTC)
Now I kinda want to make an Elementary household in the Sims tbh.
flirflir 22nd-Dec-2012 01:18 am (UTC)
flawless show is flawless
getwicked 22nd-Dec-2012 10:35 am (UTC)
TBQH, having read the books, Elementary has been doing nothing for me. I like BBC Sherlock, but it has it's problems too. I just don't see how Elementary is ANYTHING like the books. The actors are doing the best with what they were given, I just really question whether or not the writers even care about accuracy. None of the episodes so far have had ANYTHING to do with the actual stories. I really want to like it and have been watching it every week, I just wish it was a bit better and did the books it was based on at least some justice :/
getwicked 22nd-Dec-2012 10:42 am (UTC)
Also, I don't find Benedict Cumberbatch attractive. I loathe Steven Moffat. Before anyone comes after me. I just wish Elementary had a little more to do with the actual stories. Because without the stories and the characterizations, what's the point?
sherlockholmes 22nd-Dec-2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
Well, the last two weeks were based on A. J. Raffles and Norwood Builder -- so they are, in fact, full or Holmes references/stories, it's just not as blatant, I think, as BBC.
sherlockholmes 22nd-Dec-2012 02:56 pm (UTC)
I pretty much disagree with all of this, tbqh. Except the bit about BBC Sherlock having problems. lol.

Elementary has just as much to do with the source material as BBC -- and it's changed just as much, like BBC.
xel_squirgle_ox 30th-Dec-2012 05:51 am (UTC)
Super late for this, but...

Also damn it Lucy you're making me hungry!

Edited at 2012-12-30 05:54 am (UTC)
chiffanichan 31st-Dec-2012 03:30 pm (UTC)
I like the show, I wasn't sure I would since I am a fan of the books, but it's very decent and I'd like to see it continued.
carboni 1st-Jan-2013 05:15 pm (UTC)
Sorry but ONTD is too funny. Seriously. I stopped coming here for a while for no particular reason. And like about two years ago, most of you were drooling big time on Sherlock. And Sherlock this and Sherlock that, and the posts about the BBC series was like 500+ comments posts all the time. The season 2 finale post was humongous full of gifs here and there. And i read as well (here) that Sherlock made so many people start reading the Sherlock books. Oh, and did i say Elementary was TRASHED here? I don't think i dreamed that. It happened.

Now, i hear comments about 'i've never been interested in Sherlock" "Elementary got me to start reading Sherlok", not to mention this hating campaign on the Sherlock actors because now they're this horrific people for "trashing" Elementary, which seriously, I haven't read. And i have not read it. The comments you point out are NOT insults or offensive. Some of you are putting way too much (ala tabloid) into what these actors have said.

What i'm trying to say is that this is too ridiculous, stupid. The two TV series are good and successful, and believe me, the actors from each series don't hate or wish each others death.

Edited at 2013-01-01 05:16 pm (UTC)
sherlockholmes 1st-Jan-2013 05:22 pm (UTC)
I like both shows. I doubt the actors are out to kill each other/wish death on each other, particularly because Benedict has gone out of his way to support Elementary and Jonny is his friend.

But that doesn't change the fact that Martin Freeman calling Lucy Liu a dog (even in the context of a joke) is something I find ridiculously offensive.
carboni 1st-Jan-2013 05:31 pm (UTC)
The dog comment was a joke. Take it or leave it. Martin already met Lucy and said she was charming. But some of you just wanna keep dragging the dog comment to the top to keep trashing. It's stupid seriously.
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