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If you are going to buy one Conan Doyle DVD let this be it. If you're
going to watch a single episode, let it be The Crooked Man.
For this is as good as it gets. We have a glorious incarnation of Holmes and Watson here. Brett's Holmes - cantankerous, affected, whimsical, rude, arrogant, precipitous, charming - can only have been drawn from the deepest possible understanding of the text. There have been similar efforts along the same lines, though none so successful. No other Holmes has come close to Brett's portrayal of the brilliant but obsessed mind, teetering on the knife edge dividing madness and genius.
Brett's portrayal of Holmes is enough to lift this series above any other. But Granada (who are damn good at this sort of thing when they try) have nailed the two other vital essences of the stories and this makes their achievement unique.
Firstly we have a totally new take on Watson, a brisk, wonderfully intelligent man of action, a fearless fellow crime fighter and stalwart support. As David Burke leads Holmes round the Aldershot camp in The Crooked Man, you understand exactly what Holmes found appealing in the bluff ex-soldier, who chronicles his victories, appreciates and learns his methods and soothes his clients when Holme's interrogation causes offence. This is new and unsurpassed. I prefer Burke's to Hardwicke's more thoughtful Watson. Both are top drawer character actors with fantastic credits, but for me, Burke has an impulsiveness and breezy candour that gives his Watson extra light and colour. Hardwicke, in the later series, does a lot more to suggest the difficulty of living with a man like Holmes.
An even more significant achievement is the recreation of the deft energy, economy and speed with which Conan Doyle transports his audiences into the heart of Victorian London. Only Dickens did it with anything like the same authority and style. Lovers of the fantastic Sydney Paget illustrations will recognise his work everywhere in the props and scenery. Many of the more famous illustrations are lovingly recreated, but this is really about the chemistry of detail and pace. Granada have the formula just right. So perfect in fact, that when they try to extend it to feature length, it fails, just as Conan Doyle failed in his own attempts to extend the format to novel-length stories. The longer pieces are again, the weakest of the set.
If this disk doesn't fill you with delight, go back to the text, read again and look again, or you risk undervaluing one of the greatest achievements of TV drama.
Sir Arthur, I'm sure, would have been both delighted and impressed.
I must confess that until a few years ago I fully believed in the
deer-stalker wearing, beak-nosed incarnation of Sherlock Holmes as seen
on bill-boards and children's cartoons. Then one night my father
persuaded me to watch this series on TV and after that I just had to
read the stories to find out what had happened.
Ever since then I have watched every Sherlock Holmes movie that ever came on TV just so I could shout abuse at it, all except this series. Of course it has its faults as does every good thing but there can be little denying that when it came to the casting of the lead it could have not been more perfect.
Brett brings such an energy to the part that is sorely missing in other adaptations. Few other Holmes's have thrown themselves onto dusty floorboards with such gusto or made the veins stand out on their brows in anger. He is deceptively charming and at the same time faintly unsettling, not to mention immensely funny at the correct moment. With him we get a Holmes who, it can be said, is a full human being, flawed but only in the way that a diamond may be flawed, that does not mean it is not still a diamond.
The supporting cast is also excellent with David Burke and Edward Hardewick providing slightly different but equally good Watson's.
Anyone who claims to be a great fan of the stories but does not like this adaptation should look again at the narratives and hang their heads in shame.
This superb series is not only the best adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories that I have ever seen (and I have seen a few), it is one of the best television series ever made, period. Some episodes are better cinema than many feature films made at the same time. It is amazing to see the way Granada and the cast and crew kept the quality consistently high in every episode of this series, as well as the second series of the ADVENTURES, the RETURN, and the adaptation of THE SIGN OF FOUR. Later shows showed some decline in the quality of the writing and direction, and the illness of star Jeremy Brett also had a deletrious effect. But there is no negating what went before. Jeremy Brett leaves all the other actors I've seen play Holmes in the shade, and both David Burke and Edward Hardwicke are marvellous as Dr. Watson. For the first time, I believed that these men were good friends. Why has it taken over a century for someone to play them in this fashion? The credit goes to the people involved in this landmark production. The biggest crime in the series: why no professional awards or nominations for such marvellous work? There is no excuse for this. Watch the shows on video, recent broadcasts butcher the life out of these wonderful treasures.
When I started reading the Holmes canon in grade school, I was struck by the
character of Holmes. He was obnoxious, priggish, intolerant of anyone who
was beneath him intellectually (which is almost everyone but Mycroft) and
anti-social. Dr. Watson was a more well-rounded character. A doctor
trained at Edinburgh (which was stringent in Victorian times), a soldier who
undoubtedly performed surgery under fire, wounded (twice) and a fine lad
with the ladies. It was clear Holmes needed Watson to operate in society.
Without Watson, Holmes would have been a freak. But in movie versions I
caught later (such as the otherwise fine Rathbone/Bruce pairings, and
perhaps most egregiously in Bernard Fox's Watson opposite Stewart Granger's
Holmes) Holmes appeared to be Watson's keeper; or, as with Howard
Marion-Crawford, Watson was the officious Britisher to a more cosmopolitan
Holmes. Even as late as "Crucifer of Blood", Richard Johnson's Watson is
something of a dunderhead. Some of this scurrilous misinterpreting of
Watson was chipped away by Colin Blakely in "The Private Life of Sherlock
Holmes", a misfired comedy; and some in "Murder by Decree" by James Mason's
Watson, who, while not as incisive as Christopher Plummer's Holmes, is only
dunderheaded on the exterior, and who proves he can take care of himself.
But with the advent of the Jeremy Brett "Sherlock Holmes", David Burke's
Watson, while still not an intellectual rival to Holmes (who is?) is
competent, athletic, courageous, and more of a partner to the great
detective. One senses that Holmes needs Watson to operate in society, and
Watson needs Holmes as mental stimulation to take him out of his dreary
"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is the finest adaptation of the Holmes canon yet. Taking a few liberties (such as giving Watson some of Holmes' lines or putting Moriarty in "The Red Headed League") it nevertheless presents a superb Holmes (Brett) and a Watson who, for the first time, is an invaluable colleague.
"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is a must for any Holmes fan and a great introduction to anyone who doesn't want to read the stories but wants to see a Holmes close to the original as possible. (Though I was disappointed Burke didn't return in the "Return of Sherlock Holmes" series, Edward Hardwicke continued the tradition of an accomplished Watson, but also giving him a mellowed flavor like fine old vintage wine).
This is a Sherlock Holmes series that is absolutely faithful to the
stories. The excellent cast with Jeremy Brett in the lead leaves no wishes
open. Many roles were given to icons of British drama and cinema, such as
Charles Gray, Eric Porter, John Castle, Joss Ackland and Eric Sykes.
went to upcoming stars of the late 80s such as Marina Sirtis and Natasha
The mise-en-scene was certainly not only developed true to the books, but
was also inspired by Sidney Paget's drawings, which were published
with the early stories in the "Strand Magazine" from the beginning of the
1890s onwards. Compare, for example, the King of Bohemia, who faces Holmes
as a masked stranger, or the struggle of Holmes and Moriarty at the
Reichenbach falls in Switzerland.
This series is a true masterpiece of television.
I have only seen a few episiodes of the Jeremy Brett version of 'Sherlock Holmes' but already (to me) Jeremy Brett is THE 'Sherlock Holmes'. He gives the character a real personality and not only plays the character but BECOMES the character. I know that Jeremy Brett was not always comfortable with the character and lacked confidence in his portrayal of 'Sherlock Holmes' but to me he is the ULTIMATE Sherlock!!!! It's so unfourtunate that a character who ultimately brought such pleasure to so many people brought the actor such a mix of joy and misery!!!! Jeremy Brett was a great actor and a great man and thats why he is one of my all time favourite actors!!!!!
This 40 minute gem is currently being rerun on a Saturday afternoon on BB2 in England. Jeremy Brett makes a fantastic Holmes. Always slightly on edge with the right accent & demeanour, he really makes this programme the perfect example to how Holmes should be played. David Burke also plays a perfect Watson without appearing the slightest bit "bumbly" like in the rest of the adaptations. A definate 10/10
These comments apply to all series and full-length Holmes episodes filmed by Granada between 1984 and 1994 and starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes, and David Burke (later Edward Hardwicke) as Watson. In my opinion, Brett was totally spot-on for the role. Never has Holmes in all his complexities been laid before us. Brett's Holmes is tragic, infuriating, funny, smart, human. He has his weaknesses to offset his sharp mind and encyclopedic knowledge of low-lifes, drugs, and cigar ash. Stand-out episodes include The Devil's Foot, The Speckled Band, The Master Blackmailer, The Eligible Batchelor, The Copper Beeches, The Empty House, The Six Napoleons ... as for the Watsons, David Burke was more amused than amusing, quietly tolerating his friend's unusual personality traits. Hardwicke was a comedy character, not in the vein of Nigel Bruce in the old movies, but a buffoon with a heart and a mind who could be relied on in a crisis, but often showed his irritation at being woken up in the middle of the night or missing his lunch! For a whole decade British TV was the better for this long-running series.
Jeremy Brett is by far the best Holmes to date and his passing is truly a great shame. All of his representations of Holmes should not be missed. The rest of the cast are excellent. The sets and costumes are supurb as well.
Splendid television series about Arthur Conan Doyle's master detective. The series was catapulted by an intense performance by Jeremy Brett, who was a true vision and David Burke as the first Dr. John Watson. The role would later go to Edward Hardwicke, the son of actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke. The series was quite popular in the states as well as in England. Each episode was well paced and about 90 percent of the time faithful to Conan Doyle's literary works. It took chances. It took risks and it was successful. For Brett, it was the character he would be remembered for. Thank God for him...he played the part masterfully.
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