Millions of Sherlock Holmes fans can rest easy; CBS' Holmes adaptation Elementary will pretty much never suffer from the Moonlighting curse (and here's hoping that is the last time we'll ever mention those two ideas in the same sentence).
After CBS announced that its modern-day adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famed detective series would feature a female Watson, fans feared that sexual tension may develop within one of the most iconic partnerships in history. But they didn't need to worry. Executive producer Rob Doherty promises there will be no romance between the dynamic duo in this iteration, which stars Jonny Lee Miller as the recovering addict and consultant for the NYPD, while his distaff Watson (Lucy Liu) is a former surgeon who becomes Sherlock's "sober companion."
"It was certainly never about creating a 'will they or won't they' scenario," Doherty says of reimagining Watson as a woman. In his research, however, Doherty once read a psychological assessment that described Holmes as having a weird aversion to women. "Just as a joke to myself, it made me think, 'What would make Sherlock Holmes crazier than a female Watson?'" he says. "It started as a joke, but I kept coming back to it and asking myself, 'Well, what would it really change? Why would it be different? What's the big deal?'"
The producers do recognize, however, that casting two very attractive actors as the leads will cause of a section of the audience to pull for Holmes and Watson to someday get together. "It doesn't mean you have to do it," Doherty says with a laugh, admitting that if the show ever goes in that direction, at least there is already a natural chemistry between the stars. "I don't look at it so much through a romantic prism. I really do feel like what I see is this really interesting and quirky friendship that's forming. As far as how do we keep it from getting there, my very simple plan is to not write that. It's just not what we're looking to do."
One easy way to keep fans from rooting for this odd couple is to introduce other romantic foils, such as the infamous Irene Adler, an attractive woman who once outwitted Holmes himself. Rachel McAdams portrayed the character in the recent big-screen Sherlock Holmes franchise starring Robert Downey Jr. "It's absolutely something we've talked about," Doherty says. "I really do like the idea of finding romantic attachments or counterparts for each of them. Irene is definitely a name that has come up."
Still, Doherty realizes that in this day and age in television, there is no unequivocal way to say something will never happen in the course of storytelling, so the possibility of a Holmes and Watson romance, albeit small, is still lingering in the distance. "Should we be so lucky as to go into Season 6, 7, 8 or 9, maybe it starts to look attractive, but it's not what the show was built to do."
Are you happy there won't be a 'shipper name for Holmes and Watson? Will you be watching CBS' adaptation of the famed detective?
Elementary premieres Thursday at 10/9c on CBS.