Sherlock Holmes's friend and colleague Dr. John H. Watson has gotten a bad deal over the years. A big part of that due to Nigel Bruce playing the character as an imbecile in the Basil Rathbone films.
This was around a time when most Hollywood films needed a comic relief. Since Holmes was the hero of the films. It fell on poor old Watson to become the blithering comic relief in the film. Which sadly followed the character for many years and many adaptations.
Sherlock Holmes does not seem the type to suffer fools gladly, so I doubt that he would put up with a bungling moron on his most imporant cases.
However, don't believe every adaptation Watson was an idiot. There are quite a few films in the years between the Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett series (and even one after the Brett series) that either succeed or nearly succeed in displaying our good doctor as the capable man and Holmes's right hand that we read in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books. Three of them I have alread mentioned in my previous blog posts. However, I think they are worth mentioning again. Here is my list of some really good Watson's that have appeared in film, television and radio:
Ralph Richardson on radio alongside Sir John Gielgud (1954-1955)
André Morell in The Hound of the Baskervilles(1959)
Nigel Stock in a BBC series Sherlock Holmes (1964-1968 first alongside Douglas Wilmer and later Peter Cushing as Holmes)
Colin Blakely The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
Robert Duvall in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)
James Mason in Murder By Decree (1979)
Vitaly Solomin from a Russian Sherlock Holmes series starring Vasily Livanov (1979)
Sir John Mills alongside Peter Cushing in The Masks of Death (1984)
Patrick Macnee alongside Christopher Lee as Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1991) and Sherlock Holmes and the Incident at Victoria Falls (1992)
Michael Williams in a Sherlock Holmes BBC Radio Series alongside Clive Merrison as Holmes (1989-1998)
Ian Hart in The Hound of the Baskervilles alongside Richard Roxburgh as Holmes(2002) and Sherlock Holmes and the Cast of the Silk Stocking alongside Rupert Everett as Holmes (2004)