Thursday, January 16, 2020

Did Holmes and Watson set the buddy cop trend?

So many things will set the Sherlockian mind pondering some angle of our favorite detective. Today, for example, I was pondering my trip to see Bad Boys for Life, the third movie in the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence buddy cop franchise. I started the day considering Martin Lawrence's character, Marcus Burnett, as the Watson of the piece.

And Marcus Burnett is a Watson, of sorts. His principle purpose in the movies is to be the ordinary guy to Will Smith's super-slick action hero, Mike Lowery. And while Marcus doesn't chronicle the adventures of his partner, if you ever remeber the name of any movie character, you'll remember "Mike Lowery" just because Marcus enunciates it so well, so often in the first film. Marcus is also a little bit of the comic relief Watson, as many have been over the years.

But considering Lowery and Burnett as a Holmes and Watson pair, I had to start considering other action movie buddy cop combos, and how they might have a Holmes and Watson dynamic, the cool eccentric and the regular everyman. Remember the Letheal Weapon series, Riggs the outside-the-box detective, and Murtaugh, the family man that just wants to retire? Do they fit a basic Holmes-Watson pair dynamic?

There a certain cliche in such movies of the old veteran teamed with the young rule-breaker, and in a lot of classic Holmes films, Watson is seen as the elder of the pair, with Holmes as the fresh idea guy. In official police situation, the elder partner is usually the dominant one due to the experience factor, so you're more likely to see a Holmes/Watson dynamic in a non-official team-up -- the cop being a Watson paired up with the special-talents consultant, whether it's mystery writier Nick Castle in Castle or Satan himself in Lucifer. (The oddball consultant always gets the name in the title, it seems.)

But sometimes, the non-Holmes-and-Watson buddy cops give us a new light on Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Take Marcus Burnett, who I started this article with. He's the talker of the pair, always rambling in stressful situations, always worrying aloud. The John H. Watson we see in the Sherlockian Canon seems like a quiet guy, "You have the grand gift of silence," and all that. But remember that we are seeing Watson through the filter of Watson's pen.

What if Watson was really a extremely non-stop talker, and Holmes's quip about his "grand gift of silence" was completely sarcastic? What if Watson edited his own chatter down to near non-existence It wouldn't be lying exactly, so as not to offend a certain writer who titled his book and blog Watson Does Not Lie. It's possible.

Seeing Holmes and Watson everywhere has its perks.

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