Lestrade, what have you done? This robot thinks he is Watson!
-- Holmes, "The Fall and Rise of Sherlock Holmes"
One mustn't judge the mettle of a person by his outside -- which, in your case, is metal --
but by what's inside -- which is most decidedly Watson, through and through!
-- Holmes, "The Crime Machine"

Standing Watson Robot Watson with lasso

Watson started out as just another Model 7 Law Enforcement Compudroid. It was purchased by New Scotland Yard and assigned to Inspector Beth Lestrade as backup, first aid kit, walking crime lab, and note-taker. She called it Watson, despite the Chief Inspector's opposition to personalizing a robot, but regarded it as a nuisance and snitch (since the robot was programmed to send in damage reports and information on what inspectors were doing, and to warn inspectors when they were breaking the rules).

After Holmes was revived, however, Lestrade casually ordered her compudroid to scan the original Watson's journals and learn something from them so that it could be an informed assistant to Holmes. The robot took Watson's writings as a database on how to think and act and adopted the original's mode of speech and thought as closely as possible. He also gained the ability to take the initiative and do things without being ordered or programmed to do them -- because he had been ordered to act like Watson, who of course had free will.

Initially, Watson claimed to be Dr. John H. Watson. However, by the next episode it became clear that he knew the difference between himself and the original Watson, so it seems that he was simply introducing himself to Holmes in the exact manner his model would have done.

(Since it was so simple for Watson to become an independent being (granted that law enforcement compudroids must be one of the most complex types of robots), and since BLUE2 introduces yet another robot with free will and true artificial intelligence, one can only suppose that many of the household robots we see in the 22nd century may be far more complex than their owners believe.)

(But reincarnation has been advanced as one theory for Watson's unusual state (see Miss Roylott's fanfic story "Time to Spare"). One supposes that the original Watson's Literary Agent would have proposed that the compudroid was able somehow to communicate with the original Watson (as his spirit guide). Perhaps aliens or advanced civilizations have something to do with it, or sheer complexity of information. Other theories are no doubt possible and are eagerly awaited.)

Since Watson has a winning personality and is usually accompanied by two high-status humans who do not suffer fools gladly, his life usually seems to be a relatively happy one. However, we have seen him facing anti-robot prejudice in FIVE2. We also do not know whether he is actually paid by the Yard, though he must have access to e-credits since he was preparing to give Holmes a wrapped Christmas present in BLUE2.

Watson often is seen to express feelings which Holmes keeps hidden. For example, in DERA, Holmes looked concerned at seeing Lestrade's building on fire but Watson cried, "Oh, no!" Then, when Lestrade jumped, Watson cried, "No!" as Holmes mouthed it. (Funky, huh?)

Watson shares Holmes' digs at the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street. He usually drives Holmes' coachcraft, allowing Holmes to concentrate on thinking.

Watson's equipment includes:
  • a transmitter of some sort, used to send reports and urgent messages to the Yard and link to Scotland Yard's and the Internet's records.
  • superhumanly strong arms
  • a stunner in his left forearm
  • an electronic scanner in his left hand, with screen for results on back of hand
  • a medscan in his right hand, including DNA and heart scanner
  • an extending modem plug in his left wrist
  • a toolbox in his chest, carrying such things as:
    • a lariat (CRIM)
    • a laser 'key' for police handcuffs (CRIM)
    • a hammer (CRIM)
    • a spare ionizer (CRIM)
    • transparent tape (HOUN2)
    • flashlight (SCAL)

From the Fox press releases:

Dr. John Watson: The personality of Dr. John Watson has been programmed into Lestrade's old police robot, but this robot believes he truly is Watson. The robot thinks and speaks like Watson, and proves that he is the same good friend on the inside, even if he is metal on the outside. Being a walking computer and database, Watson considers himself a "thinking machine" and competes with Holmes for solutions, but ends up at a loss when faced with situations that are beyond his brand of logic - which is where Holmes shines through. Though he is notoriously fussy and nervous, the good Doctor always tries his best.

From the Study Guide by Donald Roberts, Ph.D.

Dr. John Watson
The John Watson of old was a physician, a writer and a bit of a bungler. Now his personality has been programmed into the brain of an android. His old personality fits his new body perfectly. He has always considered himself very logical and is meticulous when it comes to handling precise details. But he's at a loss when faced with situations that don't make sense to his brand of logic -- precisely the circumstances where Holmes shines.

Frankly, I am distressed by the suggestion that the original Dr. Watson was "a bit of a bungler". Compared to whom, may I ask? Watson put himself in the reader's place, asking the questions the reader would want to ask. He was not afraid to show himself as a fallible human being, but he was no bungler. If he had been, Holmes would never have asked Watson to come along on the most dangerous and delicate cases he handled. Roberts (or the DiC staff) has obviously read too little Chaucer and watched too many of the Rathbone/Bruce movies, she said huffily.

Of course, it may be that both Watsons' sometimes-poor image owes a great deal (as Martha Wells suggests in her alternate universe fic The Death of a Necromancer) to envy on the part of readers, writers and viewers. Being Holmes' best friend and chronicler is an enviable position indeed. The Watsons who hold that position need prove nothing to us.

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