" Lucy Liu cast as Elementary Watson: British Sherlock threatens turf war with US show | Madam Miaow Says

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Lucy Liu cast as Elementary Watson: British Sherlock threatens turf war with US show


Brilliant news that the enlightened producers of Elementary, the new American Sherlock Holmes television series on CBS, have had the imagination to cast Lucy Liu as Dr Joan Watson. Some wags have commented that this is wrong because she should have been playing Holmes him/herself, but you can't have everything.

Amusingly, the team behind the BBC "reboot", starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, have made ill-tempered threats to sue the US series.

Producer Sue Vertue said: "We have been in touch with CBS and informed them that we will be looking at their finished pilot very closely for any infringement of our rights."

Love that "infringement of our rights".

Personally, I think they were lucky we no longer have proper diversity awareness in the British media or else they might have been the ones having a much-deserved slap on the wrist for an unpleasant outbreak of "infringements of rights" in the antedeluvian anti-Chinese racism at the centre of their Blind Banker episode.

Of course, not only did they receive no criticism from the so-called liberal media but they went on to receive the BAFTA award for drama despite reviving colonialist tropes which dehumanise an entire race. Leni Riefenstahl, eat your heart out.

The BBC calls their effort, "A thrilling, funny, fast-paced contemporary reimagining of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic." Well, "contemporary" if you are an early 20th Century Colonel Blimp with technology, and "reimagining" if you think setting your stories in the era of crack but with attitudes straight out of the Opium Wars is hiply nouveau.

Liu's casting, transgressing not only gender but race boundaries, and the subsequent squealing from certain interests, has been illuminating in revealing exactly how far we've travelled: not very far at all.

Go Robert Doherty! Go Lucy! Go Joan Watson!

UPDATE: Thanks to Ross Fitzsimons for letting us know that there is a precedent for Sherlock cross-gender casting in "There Might Be Giants" in which Holmes is played by George C Scott and Dr Mildred Watson is played by Joanne Woodward. One does suspect that this is less about Watson's sex as his/her race.

11 comments:

almostwitty.com said...

To be fair to the writers of the UK SHerlock, they had threatend to sue before the casting of Lucy Liu. I don't think they have a vendetta against her as such. That quote dates back from mid-February

Madam Miaow said...

Wasn't saying that was why — but spotting the irony of the producer making threats over "infringement of rights" (copyright) when there was this other issue hanging around like a bad smell.

Yin said...

I didn't understand whether the producers had threatened in a joking way or an actual imma-gonna-sue-your-sorry-arse way in most articles I read.

Surprisingly, I didn't find many comments when the news FIRST broke about Lucy Liu being cast to be directed at her role. It was just moaning about moffat's idea of a modern sherlock. But that might have changed.

I'm personally torn over this, i loved the BBc sherlock despite the blind banker episode, and I'm not convinced the writers of the American sherlock will do it or lucy liu's character justice.

Yin said...

I didn't understand whether the producers had threatened in a joking way or an actual imma-gonna-sue-your-sorry-arse way in most articles I read.

Surprisingly, I didn't find many comments when the news FIRST broke about Lucy Liu being cast to be directed at her role. It was just moaning about moffat's idea of a modern sherlock. But that might have changed.

I'm personally torn over this, i loved the BBc sherlock despite the blind banker episode, and I'm not convinced the writers of the American sherlock will do it or lucy liu's character justice.

Madam Miaow said...

Hi Yin, the producers were serious about protecting what they seem to see as their property.

I understand your worries about whether the CBS series will do a good job — I have my fingers crossed as it would be amazing if this worked.

The Guy Ritchie movie was terrific fun, although there's some yellowface going on in the sequel. I'm less worried about that silliness because the whole thing is a bit of a pantomime but done very well. Depends on context — I'll suspend judgement until I've seen it (always a good policy).

Like I wrote, if the Moffat Blind Banker had ingeniously reversed the racism (which is what I was expecting) I would have been applauding. It just goes to show how embedded this crap is.

Madam Miaow said...

Actually, Almost Witty, I see what you mean. My fault with the headline — I'll amend it for clarity.

zdnevie said...

I think Lucy Liu is deserve to it, I agree the mind very much. We maybe cheer up to lookvibram five fingers outlet

David Hillman said...

Yes, but have you seen this?
http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2012/03/wow.html
Dave Hillman

buddy2blogger said...

As usual, excellent critique of the often overwrought and melodramatic adaptation of a classic character!

BBC Sherlock is more of (visual) style than substance..

Thanks for being the voice of reason :)

Hunting Violets (Resa Haile) said...

I'm a longtime Anna May Wong fan (wanted to write a biography of her before the wave). Thanks for this blog.

I'm excited for Lucy Liu to be Watson. I'll post a link on my Facebook page, Pro-Liu: Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson (http://www.facebook.com/ProLiuLucyLiuAsDrWatson).

Enjoyed your critique of the "Blind Banker" episode also. One correction: the George C. Scott movie is *They Might be Giants.* Thanks again.

Madam Miaow said...

Doh! Of course. Thanks, Resa. I'll correct the name.

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