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Shortly after the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes in print, there were pastiches, parodies, and impersonations. Since that time, the detective has been portrayed hundreds of times on the screen.

And in recent years, there have been several female incarnations of Sherlock Holmes and/or Dr. Watson. Let's track how we got here and take a deeper look at one particular series.

They Might Be Giants

It began as far back as 1971 in They Might Be Giants, when George C. Scott played Justin Playfair, a judge who retreats into fantasy and thinks he is Sherlock Holmes after his wife's death. When attempts are made to institutionalize him, he catches the attention of Dr. Mildred Watson, a psychiatrist. 


In September of 2012, CBS aired Elementary, a modern interpretation with a female Dr. Joan Watson played by Lucy Liu. It is set in New York City. Dr. Watson had been a surgeon but was never in the military. In this, Holmes is portrayed by Jonny Lee Miller as a petulant and obnoxious post-rehab drug addict. Aiden Quinn is dependable as Captain Thomas Gregson.

James O'Leary, BSI ("James, Son of the Grimpen Postmaster") spoke was interviewed about Elementary on Episode 150 of IHOSE.


In July 2013, the 221B web series premiered. It is a period setting with a female Sherlock Holmes. This was an interesting take with a female Holmes and a male Watson sharing digs at 221B. While not a big-budget production, the series was interesting, intelligent and done with care.


Around 2015, the Herlock web series went for broke with a modern interpretation using females for both lead characters. In this incarnation, Watson is a veterinary student.

Herlock was written by Lee Eric Shackleford, BSI ("Woodman's Lee"), a guest on Episode 152 of IHOSE.

Miss Sherlock

Then, in 2019, I came across another incarnation of the Master and the Boswell that was part of an HBO subscription. This program, Miss Sherlock, was created in 2018 and with it came with a female Sherlock and a female Dr. Wato-san, set in modern-day Tokyo.

Unless you speak Japanese, you might need a bigger screen to read the subtitles. The subtitles will not concern you because your eyes will already be riveted to the screen. Smart scripts and clean direction keep the action moving.

You will recognize the stories, but just as you recognize one and think about the original tale, it will unfold in unexpected ways. The writing is very good, the visual impact of every scene is so well done.

Sherlock and Wato-san rent an apartment from Kimi Hatano, in a house that looks like a Victorian throwback in the midst of a Tokyo neighborhood. Their digs are cluttered with what you would expect from Sherlock. All of the places and homes they visit are the expected minimalist, which provides a stark contrast. There are chemical experiments there too, but one of the results is a cucumber-based beauty cream.

Sara "Sherlock" Shelly Futaba is every bit the genius detective, playing the most intense version of the Master. She is a fashionista, solving each crime in catwalk-ready but practical outfits and chasing down leads in stiletto heels. She is ruthless and unfeeling in her pursuit of the truth. Her instrument is the cello, which she plays flawlessly. The dressing gown has been replaced by delightful pajamas. She is superbly played by Yūko Takeuchi.

Dr. Wato ("Wato-san") has been a surgeon in Syria with PTSD who is now trying to find herself and romance. Sherlock is completely offended by her sense of fashion. She is definitely the long-suffering type, well portrayed by Shihori Kanjiya.

This version of the landlady is Kimi Hatano who is played by Ran Ito. Wato-san cooks traditional meals in her kitchen. She adds a lot to the ladies' lives, and is involved more than Mrs. Hudson was in the Canon.

Season 1 of Miss Sherlock contains 8 episodes. During the season we see their relationship evolve as their partnership grows. However, both are still insisting they are not friends.
The style of these episodes, and the stories, compare favorably to BBC's Sherlock. Although it is hard to do a side-by-side comparison, I found Miss Sherlock to be more riveting, with better stories, and less impressed with itself.

Familiar characters abound, with their own modern and Japanese take. Among them, you will meet irresistible versions of Mycroft and Lestrade. It's like the familiar faces Dorothy saw when she woke up after the tornado in the scene from "The Wizard of Oz". They all seem so well cast, and make you happy to recognize them. As with the plots, there will be twists in the lineup.
When you can, give this smart, great, modern interpretation of Sherlock Holmes and his
world a try. Unless you speak Japanese, be sure to watch when you can focus on the screen.

The English subtitles of this Japanese program remind of a story from the attempts at language translation during the Cold War, which may be apocryphal. Scientists had a computer translate "the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak” to Russian, then translated the result from Russian back to English to the phrase “the vodka was good, but the meat was rotten.” 

In the case of Miss Sherlock, the results are astonishingly good. "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" translates to Japanese and back as "Eliminate the impossible…and you are left with the unlikely truth".

As of this writing, HBO has not responded to my question about Season 2 of Miss Sherlock. Even if there were one planned, it would have to be recast, due to the untimely death of Yûko Takeuchi, who played Sherlock, in September 2020.

Miss Sherlock is available on HBO Max, HBO Asia, and Hulu Japan. Individual episodes and the full season can also be purchased on Amazon

Full information, including cast and crew, is available on IMDb.