TCA 2012: 'Elementary' Showrunner Says Most Shows Have a Sherlock

TCA 2012 - CBS Elementary group shot
Francis Specker/CBS

CBS' Elementary may be a modern-day telling of Sherlock Holmes (set in New York), but the story obviously isn't a new one and the character -- despite multiple takes on TV and beyond -- can be found in any procedural.

Elementary showrunner Rob Doherty told reporters Sunday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour that the famed detective can be seen on such shows as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Castle and other procedurals.

"I feel like I see Sherlock everywhere, on almost every procedural," the avid Holmes fan said. "Most shows have a Sherlock in them -- they just happen to be named someone else."

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Indeed, the series that stars Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Watson takes the iconic story to a new level, exploring Sherlock's historical discomfort with the opposite sex on top of his other personality quirks.

"These are stories and characters that I don't know if they were a century ahead of their time or if it's just a paradigm that works," he said. "Having always been a fan of the character, I've seen him in present, past future, books, movies. Arthur Conan Doyle knew what he was doing."

Reaffirming that his Holmes isn't going to be an Encyclopedia Brown/know-it-all type of character the series will not portray Watson as the comedic type that has historically been seen in the books and various big screen incarnations, Liu said.

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"Who Watson is now is someone who's on the sideline; she's his sober companion, she's engaged in him, not the mystery," she noted. "From that point on you get to see how that blossoms out. The foot-in-the-bucket and that kind of Watson happens because in entertainment, there's got to be a sidekick. In this case, that's not the direction we're going in. Ask me in six episodes and if I have a foot in a bucket then we'll have a discussion."

Reiterating remarks they made earlier this month at Comic-Con, Liu and Doherty noted that a female Watson will add to the quirks that exist Elementary's Holmes, as the character traditionally has been awkward around women. "It's like having an itchy sweater, you have it on but something's going on and it's a nice thing to have that uncomfortability," Liu said, joking that the fact that Watson happens to be played by an Asian-American wouldn't mean viewers will see any karate moves.

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"The other reason that they have to be together, she's his sober companion but this is a man and woman and it shouldn't matter," Miller said of the potential to see romance develop between Holmes and Watson. "There is that element that people are going to wonder but that's something you want your audience to do."

As for introducing Professor Moriarty and Sherlock's father -- who's mentioned in the pilot as having brought Watson in to assist Holmes as his sober companion -- Doherty again said he has plans to see both characters. "Moriarty is the spider at the center of the web of crime in London … he's got a finger in every pie. We may be able to make some use of that; there are a few dominoes we knock over before we get to him."

Elementary premieres Thursday, Sept. 27 on CBS.

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