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January 9th, 2010, 11:44 AM
I’ve recently got into the TV show Bones and at Christmas I received the Jonathan Creek box set and noticed that the two key lead characters pretty much follow the Holmes and Watson partnership.

It also stands with shows like Pysch, House and Monk.

The central focus is on a partnership; the one character that has the detecting ‘ability’ and/or the seeming super intelligence while the other character is there to assist them in their cases, play off them and in most cases be the character with better interpersonal skills.

Sure this must exist in other shows, just ones I don't watch. I know from a quick Wiki search it has been noticed with House.

Do you think it is intentional on behalf of the writers or if it is just a natural pairing? Does it go back further than Holmes and Watson?

January 9th, 2010, 12:49 PM
I would think it's more a natural device in literature as all fiction is really nothing more than stretching non-fiction to the limits.

Think of all the comedy duos, Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Wallace & Gromit, Burns & Allen, Wayne & Garth, the list of fictional pairs is a mile long... Frodo & Sam, Cain & Abel, Calvin & Hobbs, Lone Ranger & Tonto, and of course Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson... but how many of these couples came before Sherlock & Watson?.. not many.

On second thought, perhaps Doyle hit on something special and over the years it has become so common we miss the orgins of it?

January 9th, 2010, 01:04 PM
I know the parallels in House have been done quite deliberately: Holmes (Homes)/House, Watson/Wilson; the guy even lives at 221B and I believe there are further clues for the afficionado.

January 27th, 2010, 08:12 AM
The hero and his sidekick?
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza?
Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn?
Samuel Johnson and James Boswell?

January 27th, 2010, 08:21 AM
Indeed. Later examples in detective fiction include Poirot and Captain Hastings, and numerous works where a pair of cops solve cases.

January 27th, 2010, 08:30 AM
Generally considered the father of the detective story is Edgar Allen Poe with his work "The Murders in the Rue Morgue". Conan Doyle certainly developed on Poe's model however. Dupin and the narrator seem something like Holmes and Watson.

Rob B
January 27th, 2010, 11:35 AM
I don't know if it would exactly fit in the Holmes/Watson mode, but the show Castle starring Nathan Fillion does feature a crime-solving duo and is pretty entertaining if somewhat predictable.

January 27th, 2010, 01:58 PM
The hero and his sidekick?
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza?
Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn?
Samuel Johnson and James Boswell?

Not just a hero and a sidekick, I think that concept has existed for a lot longer than a few hundred years.

Referring to the relationship of the pairing. In Holmes and Watson you have Holmes who while being a genius has very little in the way of social skills mostly because he doesn’t care or doesn’t see the point. Same with House, Monk and Bones.

While Jonathan Creek and Shawn Spencer (Pysch) you have the lead characters who, like Holmes, keeping everyone in the dark – even their sidekicks – until the very end. These two characters do have social skills, but they also have a unique talent like the three pairings above and are often teamed with more “normal” characters.

Rob_B - An example of one that doesn't fit as the pairing of Rick Castle and Det. Beckett is one of near equal footing. Castle does have the ability to think from the murders POV, but they work toegather as a team. On a side note, I do enjoy Castle, it's not ground breaking TV or anything, but keeps me entertained.

January 27th, 2010, 02:49 PM
I think it's more a matter of figure and narrator/interpreter. You have a genius, empowered or otherwise special figure -- Holmes, etc. -- and a somewhat more normal person -- Watson, etc. -- who gives us information about the figure, interprets the figure's actions, assists the figure, asks the figure questions and so on. So the Greek myths had the heroes who often had companions and Jesus has John and so on. The relationship of the "great man" and the assistant then gradually evolves into more of a partnership, with the assistant getting more focus in the story, but you could maybe trace it back to Socratic dialogue.

The crabbiness part, though, that may have been Doyle's big contribution. Crabbiness over just warrior brooding. I would say that the Castle duo actually does sort of fit if you accept the shifting partnership model and don't make anti-social crabbiness a requirement, because Castle is presented as the unusual figure -- well-connected, wealthy mystery bestseller with colorful life and font of crime-related information he's collected and unusual way of thinking, whereas Beckett is presented as a more normal, regular person -- a cop -- who has to interpret Castle's wild associations into useful material.

In Bones, it works because Bones is the Holmesian figure and FBI agent Booth is the normal interpreter. In The Mentalist, Thomas Jane obviously is a Holmesian character, and the head investigator (or whole team if you prefer,) is the normal interpreter.

Window Bar
January 27th, 2010, 06:09 PM
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the Norman Normal character of Nick as the viewpoint narrator.

This allows the writer to get by with standard English as his/her narrative voice, and it allows judgements to be made. When the author intrudes with judgements, it is often quite awkward; it is much more graceful with a narrator.