Weekly Forum #33

In a recent interview, Martin Freeman spoke of his role in BBC Sherlock and while answering a question about portraying characters who are “ordinary people dragged into the extraordinary,” he had a fascinating thing to say about Dr Watson (emphasis mine):

“Sometimes it’s forgotten… you know, I know what you’re saying about John and Bilbo both being ordinary people dragged into the extraordinary but sometimes it’s forgotten that before John Watson meets Sherlock he’s already an extraordinary man. He is a soldier, he is an army surgeon who saves lives, who can take lives. He is certainly a lot more capable than I am in real life. It’s just that he meets someone who’s even more extraordinary – you know, in a normal room of people John Watson would be the guy, ‘cause he can do stuff that hardly anybody else can do. But he just happens to meet his flatmate – he’s a genius. So a really impressive bloke meets a fantastically impressive bloke and together they make magic.”

That is certainly how Freeman presents him in the BBC adaption. Through the Canon, we can give examples of how Dr Watson saw himself and we know how Mr Holmes viewed his friend, but how did other people view Dr Watson? Was he “the guy”? What moments from the Canon can you find to support or refute that?

2 Replies to “Weekly Forum #33”

  1. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. And it is exactly why I just can’t bring myself to enjoy the Rathbone films. While the chemistry between Holmes and Watson is delightful in them, I can’t bear the portrayal of Watson. It is also the reason I’ve been ready to forgive the Downy films for the Indiana Jones style silliness: Watson is portrayed as a man of action–smart, and daring. I believe the stories in the canon carry this view of Watson, but in an understated way, of course. Right this minute, my brain is too fried to write a brilliant argument with examples from the canon. Thanks for letting me go on about it without actually answering the question in a meaningful way.

    1. No, that’s fine. ^_^ I’m much of the same mind as you: I can’t really enjoy a Sherlock Holmes adaption to its fullest unless its Watson is as extraordinary as he should be.

      It’s interesting to think that not many folks in the Canon give their impressions of Watson. In HOUN, a great deal of folks interacted with him and seemed to regard him as a competent investigator, so there’s one example.

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