12/19/2012 10:14 am ET

Female Watson On 'Elementary' Started Off As A Joke, Says Creator Rob Doherty

Casting a female Watson on CBS' new hit drama "Elementary" turned out to be a genius idea, but originally, it wasn't meant to be taken seriously.

"It started out as something of a joke," the show's creator Rob Doherty told The Hollywood Reporter about the idea of making Sherlock Holmes' right-hand man Watson a woman. In his research, the "Elementary" showrunner came across psychological assessments of Holmes and one expert noted an aversion to women, which sparked something in Doherty.

"I thought to myself, 'What would make Holmes crazier than taking the figurative rock he has in Watson and making him a woman?'" Doherty told THR. "The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to try it."

His willingness to try it -- by casting Lucy Liu as the Watson to Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock -- has helped make "Elementary" the No. 1 new 2012-2013 series when it comes to total viewers (NBC's "Revolution" is No. 1 in the key 18-49 demographic).

Perhaps the origins of a female Watson shed light on why many fans of the classic Sherlock Holmes were displeased to find out about the sidekick's gender initially. "It is shocking -- not for me because I like things to be turned on their head -- but for some people, it's sort of like making 007 a woman," Liu told The Huffington Post before "Elementary" made its debut. "It just takes time for people to understand that the world isn't going to blow up if Watson is a woman."

And they did. "It's Watson who's brand new. Not just because he's a she, but because she seems to be operating, for the first time, in her own parallel narrative," wrote the "Los Angeles Times" in its review. "Liu gives her Watson the perfect blend of wariness and admiration -- she is clearly brilliant in her own right and while she may be his keeper, she is not his chronicler. And her journey may turn out to be just as interesting as his."

"Elementary" has the honor of airing in the coveted post-Super Bowl slot so check out female Watson and the rest of the CBS drama on Sun., February 3 at approximately 10 p.m. EST. The opportunity is likely to give "Elementary," which has been averaging 14.2 million viewers, a ratings boost since the timeslot is one of the most-watched broadcasts each year. Last year's post-Super Bowl series, "The Voice," had 36.7 million viewers. The year before, an episode of "Glee," had 26.8 million viewers. In 2010, the last time CBS aired the Super Bowl, the network broadcasted the series premiere of "Undercover Boss," which brought in 38.6 million viewers.

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