CBS’ ‘Elementary’ Casts Eli Stone as Sherlock; Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson

Published 3 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:28 pm,

CBS Casts Lucy Liu as Jane Watson in Elementary CBS Elementary Casts Eli Stone as Sherlock; Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson

BBC’s modern take on Sherlock Holmes – simply titled Sherlock – has so far been a really smart, really successful modern adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective tales. This time two years ago, Benedict Cumberbatch was just a really lanky English guy. Now he’s the main villain in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek 2. Coincidence? Doubtful.

In fact, Sherlock was so successful that CBS began developing a modern Sherlock Holmes to call its own, Elementary. Two weeks ago, Johnny Lee Miller (Eli Stone) was cast as Sherlock himself. Today, not only do we have plot details, but we also have our John (or should we say Joan?) Watson — and her name is Lucy Liu.

The news initially came from TV Line, which simply announced that Liu (currently on Southland)  would be taking on the role of the female Watson. Later, more details emerged from Deadline, TV Line‘s sister site. Apparently, Elementary will see Johnny Lee Miller’s Holmes – breathe easy, everybody, he’s still English – as a former consultant to Scotland Yard whose drug addiction brings him to a rehabilitation center in NYC. Post-rehab, Holmes moves in with a “sober companion” in Brooklyn, Joan Watson, a “former surgeon who lost her medical license after a patient died while consulting with the NYPD.”

Lucy Liu is Jane Watson on CBS Modern Day Sherlock Holmes CBS Elementary Casts Eli Stone as Sherlock; Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson

There’s nothing inherently wrong with casting Watson as a woman. While previous attempts have yielded lackluster results, it certainly has the potential to be an extremely interesting development. However, the problem could lie with Lucy Liu herself. She carries a lot of baggage as, well, Lucy Liu – from Ally McBeal to Charlie’s Angels to Kill Bill and so on. When viewers sit down to watch Elementary for the very first time, will they see the female version of John Watson, or the Charlie’s Angel who hated Bill Murray?

Elementary, of course, refers to the most famous line ever attributed to Sherlock Holmes: “Elementary, my dear Watson!” A line that was never written by Arthur Conan Doyle, but was, in fact, popularized sometime later – either in a nineteenth century play or in the 1929 film The Return of Sherlock Holmes (it’s actually unclear to this day).

The Return of Sherlock Holmes 1929 Film CBS Elementary Casts Eli Stone as Sherlock; Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson

Rob Doherty (Medium) wrote the script for Elementary‘s pilot and Michael Cuesta (Homeland) directed it.

What say you, Screen Ranters? Is this semi-Americanized Sherlock Holmes reboot something you can get behind, or is Lucy Liu as John Jane Watson too ridiculous for anybody to get behind? Let us know in the comments.

Stay tuned as more Elementary news becomes available.

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

Sources: TV Line, Deadline [via Bleeding Cool]

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. When I heard this news this morning, I laughed so hard that I actually fell off my chair! I do want to see this though, in the same way you can’t help but look at a car crash, because it just can’t be anything other than awful.

    • “Forget about history and tradition, we have to go after the female demographic!”…CBS Marketing Boob. (I give it less than one season before cancellation.)

      • But see that is completely untrue, one of my favorite things about Sherlock is how annoyed Sherlock gets with Watson’s women and how flabbergasted Watson is by his ignorance of the human heart. Plus Martin Freeman is just super cute, why would I give that up to watch a woman?

  2. Just stop the madness! If we must have a reboot, why not My Mother The Car or Supertrain?

  3. In fact, do you know what this sounds like? Bad fan fiction.

  4. From the minute I heard that CBS was doing a modern day Sherlock, I cringed. Looking forward to seeing this fail.

  5. THIS. SOUNDS. SO…. dumb. a female watson? i dont think i can get behind that. but i guess its one way to distinguish yourself from the awesomeness that is Sherlock. I really am dreading this but im sure ill check it out anyway just to see how it goes.

  6. It’s ok it will get cancelled just like most new shows

  7. “Now, Watson, the fair sex is your department”
    The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905)

  8. It’s going to be House!!

  9. I think that it is huge mistake miscasting Lucy Lui as Dr. Watson. What is CBS thinking. She would be better cast on the series Hawaii 5-O. It is an insult to the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Dr. Watson was never protrayed as an Asian Chinese woman. I do not think that this series should even be made. I sounds like a good joke. I think that I will pass up on this series!

    • Its not John Watson. Shes playin a descendant. I think its gonna be bad but im curious.

      • Wait, where are you reading that she’s a descendant?

      • Yeah the asian women is a decendant of a british guy. That dosen’t really make a lot of sense.

        • It’s possable, Liu is mixed race.

  10. Good writing can save even the most ridiculous concept (see: Once Upon A Time). I’m not too worried about the sex of Dr Watson so long as the writing of the show can capture at least some of the brilliance of Moffet’s ‘Sherlock’.

    One thing I’m interested to see though is how they handle the drug addiction angle. Robert Downey’s Sherlock is essentially a borderline crackhead with obsessive compulsive disorder. It’s not too much of a stretch to have a modern version of that be forced to go through some extensive rehab and therapy to deal with that.

    • I hope yer right. Seeing the rumors that theyre descendents is even worse news than Lucy Liu.

  11. Wow. My hope is that this fails horribly.

    • Really? Why would you hope that it fails horribly? What do you gain from that?

      I have my doubts, but I hope that it’s surprisingly brilliant.

  12. *sigh*
    I am reserving judgement on this, I will watch the first episode, but seriously?
    First off, Holmes moves in with Watson? It should be the other way round – Watson is the best thing to happen to Holmes.

    • ^ So much this.

    • Watson is still coming into his life. Does it really make a difference who moves in with whom? Also, isn’t Sherlock, kinda sorta maybe the best thing to happen to Watson?

      Quickly, on Sherlock. I just watched the first season and it was a lot of fun. I think that Cumberbatch and Freeman have great chemistry and are very good in their respective roles. However, I don’t see why anyone is calling the show BRILLIANT or above finding room for another take on Sherlock Holmes. It’s a campy (somewhat admit it, not that it’s a bad thing) procedural crime dramady. Some of the new ideas are certainly fun but not all that ground breaking nor have they re-invented the characters all that much. Again, it’s good but far from perfect.

      I say let them show us what they can do with this new show. At least it doesn’t seem like they are copying Sherlock it’s just another modern Holmes and Watson HOPEFULLY blazing it’s own trail.

      Oh, and what is up with Moriarty in Sherlock? The last episode of the season had me laughing/cringing so hard when ever he would speak. Maybe that went over my head?

  13. Jumped the shark

  14. I prefer “Jane” to “Joan,” too.

  15. I’ll stick to Sherlock, thanks.

  16. when is this supposed to air anyway?

  17. Sounds dumb. And you know it’s going to just end up like every other police procedural.

  18. They really should have thought this through. I wouldn’t have a problem with them casting Watson as a woman if Holmes was one as well. This just reeks of “no homo” to me.

  19. sounds horrible – jlm is a hack

  20. Wow. If making an American version immediately after the BBC wasn’t a fuking stupid idea already, they have to go and fuk them selves even more by making John a woman. Why don’t you cast mycroft with a toddler you freaking dumbases! Let’s just completely disregard everything Sir ACD wrote and mar his memory by murdering his stories as much as we can. Those fukers

  21. Hmmm…actually think it’d be better if Lucy Liu were Sherlock and JLM were Waston. Well… if CBS does not copy the BBC Sherlock’s visual style, it seems it’s going to be a quite different show. I don’t know why CBS bothers to name the leads after Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Waston, can’t they just leave Conan Doyle alone?

  22. I still say this doesn’t get past the pilot stage.

  23. This all sounds sadly horrible just like the failed Wonder Woman TV series. I would have thought they would have learned that screwing with the source material so drastically usually = premature cancellation.

  24. Regardless of whether or not Watson is male or female, it’s an insult to the BBCs excellent Sherlock for CBS to copy their modern day take on the characters. Everything about the BBC Sherlock is amazing. Writing, acting, cinematography, everything. Could a show made by CBS match that? Highly unlikely.

  25. “There’s nothing inherently wrong with casting Watson as a woman.” — I hate to disagree, but there is defiantly something wrong with this casting.

    CBS, either follow the books to a certain degree or don’t f****** bother, because frankly you are screwing around with the best book ever written! I hope Doyle haunts you all!

    • But you’re okay with it being in modern times?

      There are a million adaptations of Holmes, most of them faithful. There’s nothing wrong with changing it up a little.

  26. Americans, sigh… (and I say that as an American). I just don’t get why we try (and fail) to replicate British TV. What’s next: Downton Abbey set in the Playboy mansion?

    • “Downton Abbey set in the playboy mansion” LOL haha

  27. Wow! I love Sherlock too (the character, the new BBC series, and the original stories), but how can you write this series off as terrible with only a few scant details? Living up to the source material is incredibly challenging, but changing locations and making Watson female doesn’t inherently ruin anything!

    • You think that a few changes doesn’t matter? What do you think about Kanye playing Mycroft and George Lopez playing Moriarty? What about Fergie playing Lestrade and the cast of Glee playing everyone else, supposedly? And the fact that you’re fine with it? Preposterous! The fact that you’re fine with it makes you a g****** dickweed! Have a good rest of your day.
      Dr. John H. Watson.

    • jbrenth, absolutely correct.

  28. Personally, I’m not sure I am going to like this. I cringe at the thought of all reboots of things, actually. I do like Sherlock, however. I was pleasantly surprised. But this…. One thing that has been going on for years is the slashing of Holmes and Watson. No matter how many females they throw in there. Making Watson a female… It’s like they are trying to make it more “ok” to slash them or something. I’m probably way off, but I don’t like it. Watson as a woman really throws things off for me and if they do try and make it a romance, it will fall flat on it’s face. The reason Sherlock and Watson are so good together is because no one is trying for it. Sherlock is an analytical man who relies on intelligence and emotion for connection, not physical attraction. Which is why the friendship, or more than that if you think so, I don’t care, between the two works so well. I’m not saying you can’t have that with a woman, but it’s going to be harder and I don’t think that we Americans always think so deeply into it. I don’t think I’ve made much sense, but my point is: I’m not behind it, but best of luck to it if they can make it work logically.