Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
At the top of today’s TCA session on the new CBS drama series Elementary — the network’s new take on the Sherlock Holmes legacy with the twist of a female Watson (Lucy Liu) — executive producer Rob Doherty announced that the show’s producers “have a plan” to introduce their own version of Holmes’ criminal nemesis, Professor Moriarty, as well as Sherlock’s father.
But beyond describing Holmes’ father as “an interesting shadowy figure,” Doherty left the characters a mystery except to say: “We look forward to introducing them as we go,” not specifying a time frame. Later in the session, Doherty said about a new Moriarty: “We want to keep all our secrets. I feel it’s important at the end of the day to be true to the spirit of the character” whom he described in the original books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as “a spider at the center of the web of crime in London.”
Although there was much discussion about updating Holmes to a fish out of water in contemporary New York, many questions also arose about Liu’s character. While much has been made about Liu’s Watson being a woman, there were also questions about whether the fact that Liu is Asian American will become part of the story. “I don’t think I’m going to be doing any karate moves on him any time soon,“ joked Liu. She added that this is a case of “colorblind casting.” “The wonderful thing is it’s not going to be highlighted or billboarded, it’s part of who I am and who the character is.”
Said Doherty: “As we got into casting process, there was no part on the show that was race restricted. It’s irrelevant, incidental. Culture and race is just not going to play into it.” A questioner asked if not focusing on the Asian American aspect of the character might be a missed opportunity to promote diversity on TV. Both Doherty and executive producer Carl Beverly both said no. “You maximize diversity by not speaking to it,” Beverly said.