For Female Watsons, Will the Third CBS Pilot Be the Charm?

With the success of the BBC’s modern-day Sherlock, and before that, the success of the American modern-day Holmes versions in House, M.D. and The Zero Effect, it’s inevitable that we go back to another US version of Holmes.

On the upcoming CBS series Elementary, Holmes is a respected criminologist, formerly a consultant for the Yard but now a recovering addict fresh out of rehab. The NYPD hires him as a consultant, but makes him take on a “sober companion” to keep him on the straight and narrow. The one he gets is Dr. Joan Watson, a gifted surgeon who lost an influential patient on the table and her license, in quick succession. So she has to ride herd on him during cases, whether either of them like it or not.

Holmes is played by English actor Jonny Lee Miller, the grandson of actor Bernard Lee (the original M).

Dr. Joan Watson is Lucy Liu.

This is going to be awesome.

Anyway, the folks behind the upcoming CBS show, Elementary, have announced that there’ll be a return to the female Watsons of two failed television pilots for CBS: The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1987 – Michael Pennington, Margaret Colin), set in Boston with a revived olden days Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s private eye descendant, Jane Watson; and Sherlock Holmes Returns (1993 – Anthony Higgins, Debrah Farentino), with a revived Sherlock Holmes in San Francisco, helped by Dr. Amy Winslow.

(For other female Watsons, there’s also the Mary Russell series of books by Laurie R. King; and there’s Robert Forward’s Marshal Bravestarr spinoff cartoon with a female Mycroft descendant, “Sherlock Holmes in the 24th Century” (not to be confused with the female Lestrade of Sherlock Holmes in the 23rd Century) and the female Mycroft version, Michelle, in Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, for that matter. You get the idea.)

But this time, it’s not about suspended animation or cryogenics. Everybody’s contemporary, just like on House. (And that obscure BBC miniseries thing.) 😉

The female Watson concept has always been cool, even if Rex Stout came up with it as a rather misogynistic joke. (In his paper for the Baker Street Irregulars, “Watson Was a Woman”, which “revealed” a sort of Shakespeare Code in the stories.) It’s like fate, to see it turn up again on CBS.

Three times makes the charm… I hope, I hope, I hope….

Apparently nobody gave the BBC the memo about all the previous US versions of Holmes, so one of the Sherlock producers attempted to get nasty this winter. So sad. 🙂

The guy who wrote The Return of Sherlock Holmes is now a California prof, so media take note!

Pictures of Sherlock Holmes Returns at an Anthony Higgins fan site.

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