regular-article-logo Monday, 29 May 2023

Top 5 Sherlock Holmes-Dr Watson pairs in films and TV over the years

These pairings include Benedict Cumberbatch-Martin Freeman, Robert Downey Jr-Jude Law, Jeremy Brettt-Edward Hardwicke, Will Ferrel-John C. Reilly and Jonny Lee Miller-Lucy Liu

Saikat Chakraborty Calcutta Published 03.11.22, 12:04 PM
A still from Sherlock.

A still from Sherlock.

Millie Bobby Brown’s Enola Holmes is heading back to Netflix for a second time and this time she sets up practice as a private detective, much in line with her older brother —Sherlock Holmes, the world’s most famous sleuth.

In the Enola Holmes film series, based on Nancy Springer’s young adult fiction series of the same name, Man of Steel actor Henry Cavill plays Sherlock Holmes. As the world awaits the premiere of Enola Holmes 2 on Netflix on November 4, we take a look at five memorable on-screen representations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous investigator and his loyal sidekick Dr John Watson.


Jeremy Brett - David Burke/Edward Hardwicke (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1984-94)

This British TV series produced by Granada Television is regarded as the most authentic screen adaptation of the Holmes universe. As part of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 43 of Conan Doyle’s 60 Sherlock Holmes stories were adapted in 36 one-hour episodes and five feature-length specials, paying close attention to details of the Victorian era.

Jeremy Brett is the Sherlock Holmes as envisaged by Arthur Conan Doyle and is arguably the best actor to have portrayed the eccentricities of the world-famous sleuth. The role of Dr Watson was first portrayed by David Burke in the first series and then by Edward Hardwicke for the rest of the series. Hardwicke’s adherence to Doyle’s original concept in the characterisation of Watson was praised. Both Brett and Hardwicke have immortalised themselves in Sherlock Holmes fandom with their remarkable and lifelike performances.

Benedict Cumberbatch - Martin Freeman (Sherlock 2014-17)

The combination of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson in the BBC series Sherlock floored audiences across the world. This modern adaptation introduced new technological innovations to the canon without taking anything away from the feel of the original stories that had begun to come out in Strand Magazine from the late 19th century.

Created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the 13-episode Sherlock cemented its place in the most hallowed of Sherlock Holmes adaptations for the screen. The success of the show lies in Cumberbatch and Freeman’s brilliant acting, peppered with witty repartees. Cumberbatch’s Holmes is a man who has little care for the outside world and spends his entire life within his cerebellum. Freeman’s dependable and resolute Watson unlocks this contemporary Holmes. The relationship between the two characters has been explored with as much attention as the mysteries they embark on solving. The show also tacitly acknowledges fan theories on their bromance.

Robert Downey Jr. - Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes film series)

Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes film series consisting of 2009’s Sherlock Holmes and 2011’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows are highly stylised period mystery action movies. Ritchie reimagined London during the late Victorian era as an amusement park with endless twisty rides.

This film series focused more on Sherlock’s acrobatic skills than his grey cells. The director’s high-octane slick signature techniques often come in the way of enjoying the old-world charm of the source material.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law’s portrayal of the detective and the former army doctor, respectively, garnered acclaim. Downey Jr’s arrogant Holmes is well complemented by Law’s grounded Watson. Ritchie also retained the subdued bromance hinted at by their friendship.

Jonny Lee Miller - Lucy Liu (Elementary 2012-19)

Created by Robert Doherty, American TV series Elementary also takes a contemporary approach to Sherlock Holmes, and takes him to New York instead of London, giving the entire world of Holmes a complete overhaul in terms of cultural significance. The seven seasons of this series ran from 2012 to 2019 and was praised for brave new additions, including the introduction of a woman as Dr Watson.

British actor Jonny Lee Miller portrayed Sherlock Holmes as a recovering drug addict suffering from post-concussion syndrome, while Lucy Liu’s Dr Watson is his sober companion with a tormented past. The progression of their relationship as professional partners to friends is a treat to watch.

Will Ferrell-John C Reilly (Holmes & Watson 2018)

In Etan Cohen’s 2018 Sherlock Holmes spoof Holmes & Watson, Hollywood comedians Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly played Holmes and Watson, respectively, to hilarious effect.

This comical representation of the consultant detective and his loyal assistant has elements of slapstick comedy while touching upon a couple of important points — it traces Watson’s desire for recognition of his own work and gives Holmes and Watson a reality check when they face a female American doctor in Victorian England.

Follow us on: