Monday, October 3, 2022

Is John Watson enough?

 When the news came out today of a new TV series featuring Dr. Watson as the lead character, I got pretty excited. I mean, content for a podcast like The Watsonian Weekly doesn't fall off backyard plane trees. And then the details started to emerge.

Written by Craig Sweeney, a name I immediately recognized from CBS's Elementary's writing stable. Being produced in conjunction with CBS Studios. And this full description from

In Watson, a year after the death of his friend and partner Sherlock Holmes at the hands of Moriarty, Dr. John Watson resumes his medical career as the head of a clinic dedicated to treating rare disorders. Watson’s old life isn’t done with him, though — Moriarty and Watson are set to write their own chapter of a story that has fascinated audiences for more than a century. Watson is a medical show with a strong investigative spine, featuring a modern version of one of history’s greatest detectives as he turns his attention from solving crimes to addressing the greatest mystery of all: illness, and the ways it disrupts our lives.

Modern. Moriarty. Medical show. All challenging bits for a pure Watson show.

We've had Elementary, with modern and Moriarty. We've had House, with modern and medical. But here's the biggest issue I'm really wondering about, and I do a podcast on the guy:

Who IS John H. Watson?

Without Sherlock Holmes, who really is he? His "everyman" qualities make him our human doorway to Sherlock Holmes, but that same flavor of character vanilla is not really the thing to carry a TV show. How do you build a stand-alone Watson who can carry his own set of stories without being a faux Sherlock stand-in? That phrase "one of history's greatest detectives" makes one wonder if he is a Watson borne of Ben Kingsley's Watson mold from Without a Clue.

And what is going to make John Watson, the guy best known to us for his brandy prescriptions, capable of "addressing the greatest mystery of all: illness, and the way it disrupts our lives?" That's where we start going . . . ummmm . . . House 2.0?

Were this a sequel to Elementary, in which Lucy Liu's Joan Watson returns to medicine, the above description makes sense. But the male pronouns throughout definitely make it seem like an entirely new item. 

At the end of the day, this announcement is like watching an old-fashioned motorcycle daredevil point at the Grand Canyon and go, "For my next ramp-jump . . ."  

It's going to be an interesting couple of years to see if this gets the air it needs to fly. But I sure hope it does. I know one weekly Watson podcast that could using the material to talk about.


  1. A Watson show sounds alright - but connected with the writers of Elementary - no thanks.

  2. It will not be the 1st Watson without Holmes TV production. You had this from BBC TV in 1974:
    Doctor Watson and the Darkwater Hall Mystery - A Singular Adventure
    Edward Fox as Dr. Watson.

    BBC Television, U.K.
    1 hr. 10 mn. 27 December 1974
    Director: James Cellen Jones

    Plot: Since Holmes is away recuperating, at long last Watson gets the lead role. Dr. Watson (Edward Fox), with deerstalker, magnifying glass and a pipe a la Sherlock, solves the mystery of the threat to Sir Henry's (Christopher Cazenove) life. Being Watson the ladies man, he of course encounters the case through helping Emily (Elaine Taylor) a damsel in distress.

    Cast: Edward Fox, Elaine Taylor, Christopher Cazenove, Jeremy Clyde, John Westbrook, Terence Bayler and Carmen Gomez.

    Odds and Ends: Jeremy Clyde who plays Miles, would later play Sherlock Holmes in Crime Writers (1978), and he was the Jeremy in the 1960’s singing duo, Chad and Jeremy. Edward Fox also played the role of Alistair Ross in the TV movie The Crucifer of Blood (1991), with Charlton Heston as Sherlock Holmes. James Fox, Edward Fox's brother voiced Sherlock Holmes on the radio in "The Beekeeper’s Apprentice", "The Affair of the Senator's Daughter", "The Segregation of the Queen" and "A Battle Royal" (2000). James also played Sir Thomas Rotheram in the 2009 film "Sherlock Holmes". Emilia Fox, Edward's daughter would dress as Sherlock Holmes in "All Round to Mrs Brown’s" (2017), on BBC 1. Also Emilia was once married to Jared Harris who played Professor James Moriarty in "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (2011).