“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” – Arthur Conan Doyle
The legacy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes has come a long way from 221b Baker Street, London, UK over the years. Many have attempted to bring the short stories to life on the both the big screen and on television. Over the years, there have been different takes on the personalities of both men, but their undying devotion to each other remains.
Most recently, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law have played the dynamic duo on the silver screen, and Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have taken up the crime fighting on television. Tonight, on CBS in America, another team will add to Doyle’s franchise.
Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, or Sherlockians, might be a bit chagrined to learn the newest incarnation of their favorite crime fighting will take place, not in London, but in modern day New York City. Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, Holmes and Watson respectively. This must have made the Sherlockians want to eat the deer hunter’s cap when they learned this news.
There are many differences between all of the Sherlock Holmes tales; different geographical locations, even different periods in history, but there remains the interplay between the genius Holmes and his brilliant, though one step behind the detective, the loyal Dr. Watson. We can only assume that this relationship will be true for the American television version, despite the new take on the gender of the duo.
This concept, the Holmes/Watson dynamic, has played out in many forms in our literature since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle penned the classic whodunit. Almost every crime fighting duo that I can think of since Sherlock Holmes has portrayed this dynamic. And sometimes, the dynamic was there even though the duo was on the other side of the law.
Detective Goren and Detective Eames – Law and Order: Criminal Intent
This relationship is the closest to the Holmes/Watson model. While Det. Eames isn’t trained in medicine, she certainly plays the role of Dr. Watson as she tries to keep up with the eccentric, and volatile, Det. Goren.
Shawn Spencer and Burton “Gus” Guster II – Psych
Shawn and Gus portray the dynamic on a comedic level. As a “psychic detective” Shawn, who was trained by his father the skill of observation and deductive reasoning (Sherlock Holmes), works with his partner Gus to help solve crimes. Gus, like Watson, offers sobering advice that’s usually ignored by Shawn, who like Holmes, always solves the crime in the end.
As a bumbling homicide detective for the Los Angeles Police department, Columbo is the only one on the list that doesn’t work as a team, but portrays the characteristics of both Holmes and Watson.
Pinky and Brain – Pinky and the Brain
On the other side of the law, we have the evil genius of Brain who plots to take over the world, but is usually foiled by his feeble partner Pinky. Also, the complex impossibility of Brain’s plan, paired with his own arrogance disrupts his plan for global domination from their cage in the Acme research facility. Sometimes, as in real life, the circumstances are just beyond their control and they end each episode with a vow to take over the world…the next day.
With the optimism of our genetically engineered duo, let’s give the newest kids on the block, Elementary, a chance to succeed. Gotta go, it’s on in ten minutes!