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Very Highly Recommended!
princessromy118 January 2005
This is a must see for Sherlockians and uninitiated alike. 'The Return of Sherlock Holmes', (as with the 'Adventures'), contain some of the best episodes of the Granada TV series. The writers stick closely to the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle and when they do depart there is good dramatic reason. Jeremy Brett continues to dazzle as Sherlock Holmes despite difficulties in his private life at this time, and Edward Hardwicke's Watson (incidentally, whose father Sir Cedric Hardwicke played Holmes once upon a time) is just as intelligent and warm as his predecessor David Burke in the 'Adventures'. Yes, Watson IS intelligent, contrary to very unfair previous portrayals. Hardwicke's style is more naturalistic and perfectly complements Brett's expansive theatrics.

The lively 221b Baker Street set is a delight, and the music must be given special mention, as it is excellent. Patrick Gowers takes the Baker Street theme and embellishes and embroiders it to suit the mood and tone of each episode. He is able to vary it from choral to Renaissance to concerto style effortlessly. The supporting cast is usually strong, though sometimes there will be the odd one who overdoes it a bit. But you cannot accuse anyone involved in these productions with half-heartiness.

Cracks only begin to show in the last few episodes of the series from 'The Devil's Foot' onwards, filmed after Brett experienced a mental breakdown. He seems to lose some of his energy and lustre, but the effect is that of an older, wiser and more compassionate version of the Great Detective, who is so often described as being cold.

All in all, I highly recommend this series; you will never see such a happy combination of good screenplay, music, costumes, set design and of course excellent actors in the same production of the adventures of the elusive Sherlock Holmes.
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Excellent representation of Conan Doyle's celebrated adversary of crime
Filmtribute7 December 2003
In this Granada television series, Jeremy Brett presented us with a definitive portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. The attention to detail was superb with an interpretation far closer to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creation than previously shown on film by the deerstalkered Basil Rathbone et al. Jeremy Brett's wild, haunted and melancholy performance of the second series in 1985 was, by his own admission, heavily influenced through the personal tragedy of the loss of his wife to cancer. He adapted the role somewhat for the return series and managed to introduce some levity, even though he found it difficult to play a character who was all mind and no heart. David Burke and his successor Edward Hardwicke (who took on the role in the third series: `The Return of Sherlock Holmes') both gave intelligent performances as Holmes' crony, Dr John Watson. Brett and Hardwicke made an exceptionally good team and brought the relationship alive with a believable friendship more than any previous characterisations had done.

The series combined fine period detail and atmosphere to create a very credible late 19th century London, and the dialogue replicated the novels fairly closely. The main drawback of the storyline adaptations and format is that they may have removed some of the exploration into the incisive detective skills of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, and the series became sanitised with the playing down of both of Holmes' predilections for drugs and the violin. Unless I am suffering from false memory syndrome I seem to recall someone's dramatisation where Watson recoils from Holmes' ear-splitting scratching, which I now find is contrary to Conan Doyle's assertion that Holmes was "not only a very capable performer but a composer of no ordinary merit". The problem may lie in actually dramatising the novels, as Jeremy Brett himself observed, they are better read, and he described performing the action of crawling through the bracken like a golden retriever as "hysterically funny". The concept of the images being better seen in the mind's eye would also explain why the excellent BBC radio productions of the 1990's, with Clive Merrison and Michael Williams as the sleuth and good doctor, worked so well.

The choice of guest actors was consistently of a high standard and is one of the reasons why I remember `The Abbey Grange' so fondly, with a note of thanks to the director Peter Hammond. The episode notably deals with Conan Doyle's expose on the cruelty of marriage in locking women into an abusive relationship without any means of escape. Holmes is called to investigate the savage murder of an Earl in his Kent mansion and finds that the Australian wife and her maid apparently survived the attack. The two women obligingly give compelling evidence to incriminate a notorious local gang. As usual Holmes' mind is still trying to fit contradictory pieces of the puzzle together after leaving the house when he has a lucid flash of insight and promptly returns to the scene of the crime. More evidence is unearthed to refute the honourable ladies' story though they will not budge and Holmes sets off on a trail as any diligent detective might follow. However, he of course tracks the real culprit down and brings him to justice but there is a novel twist and a very romantic solution. A very rewarding episode demonstrating Holmes' brilliance and compassion to divert man's base cruelty and the rigid laws of the land which surely would have seen a gallant hero hung.

Charles Dickens was also moved to write on the similar theme of a beautiful and intelligent woman imprisoned in abusive matrimony in one of his most enduring novels, `Great Expectations', originally serialised some 37 years previously in 1860-1861, and his earlier `Hard Times' also touches on the prohibitively expensive, complex and discriminatory proceedings for divorce prior to the 1857 Divorce Act. In Victorian England the only married woman with any rights and an independent identity was Queen Victoria herself. Men could beat their wives under law as long as the rod was no greater than a thumb's thickness and a woman was deemed to have no just cause to refuse conjugal rights. Sadly such attitudes are only too prevalent today in this technologically advanced but in many ways still primeval world. Evidence shows that matrimony benefits men at the expense of women and it is hardly surprising that in the UK a third of marriages fail. Indeed, Schopenhauer speaks of a "life force" that brings people together to reproduce, but warns that the chosen partner is not necessarily right for you. The concern for society as a whole should be on minimising the negative effect on the unfortunate offspring who may of course have unwittingly contributed to the marriage breakdown. A factor that is so often blatantly ignored by sensational newspaper stories when intruding on public figures' private lives.

Oliver Tobias (`Luke's Kingdom', also directed by Peter Hammond with Peter Weir) finds that his gruff rigid manner works very well here as the merchant captain and friend driven to the fatal act of defending his beloved from her brutal husband. The disturbingly beautiful Anne Louise Lambert, who fits the narrative's description to the letter, plays the free spirited Miss Mary Fraser from Adelaide. After a dazzling beginning in 1975 in Peter Weir's hauntingly enchanting `Picnic at Hanging Rock', which led to a prominent role in Peter Greenaway's artful `The Draughtsman's Contract' (1982) as well as this episode in 1986, it is both perplexing and disappointing that Lambert's international film career has faltered. Despite appearances in several Australian features and a handful of overseas projects, since starring in Susan Dermody's 1993 largely unknown but extremely pertinent `Breathing Under Water' Lambert has only been seen in a few cameos including an ailing mother in ABC's 2001's controversial prisoners-of-war series, `Changi'.

The exclusive video rights in the UK for the Granada TV series have passed from VCI to Britannia Music so that membership is necessary to obtain copies of the videos in PAL format.
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Superb
kmaclean13 August 2001
The Return of Sherlock Holmes continues the excellence of the original series. Jeremy Brett (Jeremy Huggins) is quite clearly the best Sherlock ever. These films are superbly done, the acting is uniformly excellent, and what I enjoy most of all is the meticulous attention to detail in all of these productions. They all have the feeling of the 1890's, I feel like I am transported back in time. I have purchased or recorded all of these videos, and and have viewed them regularly over the past 15 years. They are so well done, one never gets tired of seeing them. If you are a fan of Conan Doyle or if you are just looking for fine entertainment, you can't miss with these films.
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Excellent interpretation of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes
Filmtribute12 April 2001
In this Granada TV Series, Jeremy Brett presented us with, in my view, the definitive portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. The attention to detail was superb with an interpretation far closer to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creation than previously shown on film by the deerstalkered Basil Rathbone et al. Jeremy Brett's wild, haunted and melancholy performance of the second series in 1985 was, by his own admission, heavily influenced through the personal tragedy of the loss of his wife to cancer. He adapted the role somewhat for the return series and managed to introduce some levity, even though he found it difficult to play a character who was all mind and no heart.

David Burke and his successor Edward Hardwicke (who took on the role in the third series: `The Return of Sherlock Holmes') both gave intelligent performances as Dr John Watson. Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke made an exceptionally good team and brought the relationship alive with a believable friendship more than any previous characterisations had done.

The series combined fine period detail and atmosphere to create a very credible late 19th century London, and the dialogue replicated the novels fairly closely although production necessities altered some aspects of the stories.

However, the Granada TV series' storyline adaptations and format may have removed some of the exploration into the incisive detective skills of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, and the series became sanitised with the playing down of both of Holmes' addictions to cocaine and atrocious violin scratching.

The problem may lie in actually dramatising the novels, as Jeremy Brett observed, they are better read, and he described performing the action of crawling through the bracken like a golden retriever as `hysterically funny'. The concept of the images being better seen in the mind's eye would explain why the excellent BBC radio productions of the 1990's with Clive Merrison and Michael Williams worked so well.

The choice of guest actors was consistently of a high standard and I remember ‘The Abbey Grange' in particular as it provided a personal treat to see Anne Louise Lambert (Picnic at Hanging Rock) display her unique talents in a sadly all too rare role for her. Congratulations are due to the director (Peter Hammond) on an inspired piece of casting.

The exclusive video rights in the UK for the Granada TV series have passed from VCI to Britannia Music so that membership is necessary to obtain copies of the videos in PAL format.
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Jeremy Brett plays by far the best Sherlock until today.
PeeJay26 October 1998
A good atmosphere fitting the Conan Doyle books takes you back to the days of the late 19th and early 20th century. Dialogs are often exactly or nearly the original text. Jeremy Brett plays a great Sherlock, with all the weird habits, qualities of character and humor which made this detective so popular that his return was requested after his death. Even the sense of superiority Sherlock shows is great. Watson is a good partner who is a background person, but present when necessary and so creating a good couple, and the right antipole. Just a good series for who loves the books, adding a person to a fiction character.
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10/10
More greatness
MartinHafer30 March 2008
Thank goodness for the wonderful folks at Granada Television. In the mid 1980s, they created the absolute best Sherlock Holmes ever to make it to the big or small screen. Unlike all the previous versions, which LIBERALLY deviated from the Conan Doyle stories, the Granada films tried to be perfect in every detail.

Unlike the caricature of Holmes that you see in previous films where he wears a deerstalker hat, smokes a curved pipe and spouts "elementary, my dear Watson", this Holmes is true to the original character. Additionally, Dr. Watson is not the bumbling idiot as portrayed by Nigel Bruce (Bruce should burn in Hell for how he ruined this character).

The first mini-series by Granada was exceptional and Jeremy Brett was the greatest Holmes ever. Oddly, they did switch actors who played Watson, but the series went on otherwise as before--exceptional and wonderful in every way. One person commented on the bland dialog, but it was very true to the stories--I am GLAD they didn't "spice it up" but chose to remain true to Conan Doyle's vision.

Intelligently written and wonderful throughout.
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Genius
MetalMiike31 January 2005
Holmes, having been missing for a year (falling off a 300 foot water fall while tackling your arch nemesis does tend to inconvenience you a bit) returns nuttier than ever. Hardwick is the new Watson after Burke left to join the RSC and is more fatherly; Jeremy Brett is of course the only Sherlock Holmes, the love-child of Peter Cushing and Kenneth Williams (those that have not seen the show cannot even imagine how camp he gets at times) and the show is more dark than before thanks mainly to the mental and physical problems Brett was going through at the time of his wife's death. This actually works, as Holmes goes "cold turkey" in THE DEVIL'S FOOT so your really start to believe he's burnt out and there are hints of a self-destructive personality coming out. Best of all, Watson's detective skills are approaching Holmes', a far cry from that ridiculous portrayal by Nigel Bruce. As if a man of Holmes' intellect could put up with such idiocy. Or my spelling for that matter.
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10/10
Superlative series!
TheLittleSongbird21 October 2009
The Return of Sherlock Holmes is an absolutely superb series; I would say flawless. Everything is so good, I really can't bring myself to criticise it in any way. As for the episodes, they are all superbly adapted, and all of them are of exceptional quality. Can't really decide on a firm favourite, but a definitive standout is The Devil's Foot.

The production values in this series are wonderful. The remarkably fine camera work, perfectly captures the always splendid scenery and lovingly designed(if not too fancy) costumes. The music is brilliant, the theme tune is both beautiful and haunting, and the accompanying incidental music never fails to be richly scored. The scripts never fail to bring sophistication and class to the series.

What is really worth of note is the quality of the acting. Jeremy Brett, no matter how good Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing and Ian Richardson were, is by far the definitive interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, whom along with Morse and Poirot is one of the greatest fictional detectives ever, and it is all to Arthur Conan Doyle's credit. Brett had a gritty baritone to his voice, towering presence in front of the camera work and a certain generosity about him, that made him unsurpassed as the best Holmes. Edward Hardwicke gives an intelligent performance as Dr Watson, and there are memorable supporting turns by other great actors.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes does benefit in general by the faithfulness to the source materials. Yes, I know they toned down Holmes's cocaine addiction, but with everything else as good as they are, I am always obliged to overlook. A truly superb series, with one of the easiest 10/10s I have made recently. Bethany Cox
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9/10
An excellent follow-up
TigerShark 904 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
After the success of "Adventures", "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" is a continuation of equal excellence in Granada's series adaptations featuring the great Jeremy Brett. It still marks a period where the makers were still at the height their talent and inspiration at filming Arthur Conan Doyle's stories.

Jeremy Brett returns as Sherlock Holmes. His magnetic portrayal is undeniably memorable and very authentic. In my opinion, he is heads and shoulders above any actor who played him before, and will remain a tough act to follow in the future. Brett's Holmes can be pompous, twitchy, detached, but also deceptively charming and humorous. He is always a treat to watch, even though his growing illness would to start to lessen the delight of his performance in the later years. However, in this volume the energy and vibe he brings is alive and well.

Edward Hardwicke makes for an excellent replacement to David Burke in the role of Holmes most trusted companion, Dr. Watson. Burke's Watson was younger and more charismatic but Hardwicke's is more thoughtful and genuine. Since Holmes on hiatus for three years,it would make sense that Watson would be older and have a different outlook on things. Although his approach to the character is different, he fits into the role so well that Burke is hardly missed.

"Return" continues to show the producers skills at adapting Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Episodes such "The Empty House", "The Abbey Grange", "The Silver Blaze", "The Second Stain", "The Musgrave Ritual", and "The Devil's Foot" are all excellent and rank among some of the best that Granada ever made. The costumes, locations, art/set direction, music, and photography are superb. Also, the acting from the supporting casts are of high quality. During this series, the first two Holmes feature films were produced which include "The Sign of Four" (without a doubt the best adaptation of the classic novella) and "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (Not a definitive version exactly, but pretty good nonetheless).

"The Return of Sherlock Holmes" is a great second volume if not the best in the series. Even though, the next two volumes from Granada would begin to rely on Conan Doyle's lesser tales and Brett illness would start taking its toll. Still, this and "Adventures" proved that the early years of Granada adaptations were its golden years making it among one of the all-time great television series of its kind.
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8/10
The Best Sherlock Holmes Ever
Alex-37224 December 2004
Jeremy Brett was my generation's Sherlock Holmes, the way Michael Praed is my generation's Robin Hood.

Both series have been done before (and since), but never better. The only series that comes close is the pre-Holmes/true life version of Arthur Conan Doyle's apprenticeship at the feet of the brilliant dr. Bell, called "Murder Rooms".

Jeremy Brett is excellent as the cultured, sensitive (gay?) king of detectives. Australian actors David Burke, and later on Edward Hardwicke (in the follow-up to this series "The Return Of Sherlock Holmes", also with Jeremy Brett) hold their own as the experienced everyman versions that are really Arthur Conan Doyle himself.

Highly recommended.
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10/10
Brilliant!
diligentdrool_1417 March 2008
There is no other word to describe Holmes - Watson Duo other than BRILLIANT!!! Jeremy Brett---The best Holmes ever! Just Scintillating as the greatest, most loved and congenial detective of all time. David Burke---Great Watson! Brilliant acting , brilliant picturisation. I just love watching the Sherlock Holmes series The Way Brett plays Holmes is amazing! That spark in his eyes, that sheer Drama in his presentation! He plays Holmes to the T! His way of delivering those Sherlockian Punch lines is just out of the world! Burke ably supports Brett as the beloved Sidekick Watson. Entertaining and gripping to the Core. No one matches the Great Holmes Watson Duo!
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10/10
Excellent series based on the books by Sir Aurther Conan Doyle
Maddyclassicfilms9 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This second season of Granada's Holmes adaptations is my favourite of the entire series. David Burke is replaced by Edward Hardwicke and I think this casting change helps the series. There is a real affection between Holmes and Watson, helped no doubt by the fact that Brett and Hardwicke were friends in real life. Hardwicke's Watson doesn't come across as dull or as nothing more than comic relief.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes begins several years after the events in the Final Problem. Watson has his own medical practice and is living a life quite different from the one he had when Holmes was around. It is revealed that Holmes never died at the falls, Holmes apologises for keeping Watson in the dark and the two pick up where they left off.

Jeremy Brett to me will always be the best screen Holmes. His portrayal of Holmes is stunning. He perfectly captures the external coldness and razor sharp intellect of the man so well.

Edward Hardwicke as Dr John Watson is excellent also, he for once plays Watson seriously and is believable as a doctor. I liked David Burke's portrayal but yet again in his portrayal Watson was played as a comic character instead of a serious character.

You get the feeling watching this that Holmes really needs this Watson without realising it, Watson's the one who reminds him to eat,sleep and is a constant presence in Holmes life. You also get the feeling that Watson would lead a very boring life were it not for this friendship with Holmes.

Tragically the stress associated with playing Holmes and the death of his wife became too much and he died of heart problems in 1995.

The series is great and I love the stories they are exciting, scary, funny and moving.Also many scenes convey Holmes and Watson's deep affection for each other.

My favourite episodes are The Devil's Foot (where Holmes gives up his cocaine habit), The Priory School, The Empty House, The Six Napoleons, Silver Blaze, The Man With the Twisted Lip and The Hound Of The Baskervilles.
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10/10
Spectacular Return Indeed.
AaronCapenBanner19 August 2013
Jeremy Brett returns in more ways than one, in these equally outstanding adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories featuring the brilliant Sherlock Holmes, whom Doyle was compelled to bring back from the waterfall where we thought all was lost...

David Burke did not return as Watson, but instead Edward Hardwicke stepped in, and did an exemplary job on how to take over a role without any fuss or controversy, so seamless was his transition.

Again, all stories are as masterfully put together as "Adventures", and there is nothing to nitpick or complain about; this is as good as it gets!
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Superb, with Caveats
Ephraim Gadsby12 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
After the success of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" with Jeremy Brett and David Burke, more adventures were made with Sherlock Holmes returning from his watery grave. Edward Hardwicke plays a more mellowed Watson but the attention to Watson's character was the hallmark of the entire Granada production. Brett's performance was very literal and in "Adventures" and "Return" is the living embodiment of Sherlock Holmes from the printed page. But seeing that Watson got his due and is no longer a man in the first stages of senility is the great achievement of the series.

Some of the best episodes appear in "Return", among them "The Second Stain", "The Six Napoleons" and "The Bruce-Partington Plans". One niggling problem remains. Despite the "accuracy" of the series and its good intentions of doing Holmes and Watson right, and despite their success, it is still bothersome that they've decided (no doubt for convenience) to leave Watson unmarried. When they started rooming together Watson was pensioned out of the army on his wounds and he and Holmes were both young men trying to establish their respective practices in London, with little money between them. In the second story Conan Doyle told of these duo ("The Sign of Four", which is otherwise well-done by Granada) Watson gets married and moves out; and as his practice is coming along and Holmes is beginning to make a lot of money (as in "The Priory School", another excellent adaptation in the "Return") it seems peculiar to leave them as middle-aged bachelors in a three-room flat. Given Holmes' anti-social nature, the odd hours he keeps, the vile smells he must produce from his experiments, Watson must be a loony to live with him. "The Return" -- Holmes' literal return after his disaster in Switzerland -- should have been a good point for the series to adjust their living arrangements so that Watson is no longer at Baker Street (as it was clear in the first episode he didn't live there while Holmes was "dead"). It's the one glaring flaw in the whole Granada project and it begins to make everything after "The Adventures" look silly. Still, it's the best Holmes and Watson adaptations out there and "The Return", while not as ebullient as "The Adventures", is quality craftsmanship.
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10/10
excellent
TheVilagentRR25 May 2011
This show is wonderful. The actors are great in there parts! They stay close to the books,they do change a few things(it is almost impossible not to). Jeremy Brett is an amazing actor and so is David Burke is really good too.Out of all the movies and shows(trust me I have seen a lot)this is the closest. Poor Jeremy Brett died while making this show in September of 1995. He had a heart problem. The sets of the show are excellent. Jeremy worked really hard to master Sherlock Holmes mannerisms,he would carry a folder around the set with info on Sherlock Holmes. If you would like something else to watch on Sherlock Holmes,you might want to try the old Basil Rathbone movies. They aren't that close to the books but Basil makes a good Holmes.
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A good Watson
will-758 October 2000
These two played a very good team,I always found Nigel Bruce annoying as Watson because Watson was not an idiot. Holmes would not have tolerated a fool.

Although a good acting team I found that the dialogue had been sanitized (typical British TV,) and Holmes` cocaine addiction played down, almost to the point that he had kicked the habit. Far better his portrayal in "The private life of Sherlock Holmes" in which Watson constantly reprimands Holmes for his weakness of character.

The actors were good and their characterisation was good but the blandness of the dialogue reduced the plots almost to soap opera level.
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The welcome switch
Cristi_Ciopron5 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Abbey Grange is the first fine episode of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (as a matter of fact,this third season of Granada 's Holmes adaptations bears another title: The Return of Sherlock Holmes);with this episode, the series has found the note,the tone.The Empty House (the previous '86 episode) was already better than The Final Problem.Edward Hardwicke is,anyway,better than his predecessor.On the other hand, the best Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes episodes were never very good;Colin Jeavons was always better than the withered,effeminate,pedantic Jeremy Brett,and he would of made a surely much better Holmes.Among the best TV detectives,Maury Chaykin is extremely good;David Suchet is enormously pleasing also;but Jeremy Brett is a pungent stench:a Holmes with small,withered,flaccid, emasculate features!There are much better Holmes on screen.Rosalie Williams is,alas,far from being a Pauline Moran.

Anyway,coming back to The Abbey Grange,one sees that things are improved:it is more atmospheric, and more suspenseful.More shocking and terrifying,also.The next episode,The Musgrave Ritual,is even better.This improvement came suddenly.Sometimes,Edward Hardwicke seems better than Brett.But Brett himself is very good in the second half of The Musgrave Ritual.

The Second Stain is finely scored,and Colin Jeavons has an interesting appearance,when Holmes investigates the Westminster murder.Here, Colin Jeavons proves he would have been a stunning Holmes,as he has the necessary uncanniness.And it should not be passed under silence that,while Philip Jackson,a competent actor,could not eclipse David Suchet, Colin Jeavons is so good that he eclipses the insipid Brett.In TSS there are beautiful images,delightful frames.These episodes of The Return of Sherlock Holmes are indeed thrilling and suspenseful.Their look is very satisfying.They finally round off a world that has Holmes' thinking as center.The first two seasons,from A Scandal in Bohemia to The Final Problem,were quite stupid and insipid,and even ugly and boring,and excessively disappointing and trite.But with The Empty House everything changes and improves:firstly,the look and the music and the narrative accent.

Now,more on the emasculate Brett,or on Brett's evolving in this series. In the first couple of seasons,and so at his very worst,B. makes Holmes vapid,commonplace and insipid,disjointed by outbursts of desultory clichés--very uncalled for.

The outbursts of B.'s airs and graces,of his antics and dull whims, deprive this finical weirdo of his energy:he seems torpid and dolt.

With the welcome third seasons,and with the change of title,the series is getting obviously better;the improvement (in music,suspense,a macabre quality,a thrilling narration) is very obvious and welcome: finally,an interesting series.

This Holmes does not elicit awe,but a sort of compassionate, merciful and affectionate esteem.He is not a superman,nor a deductive machine,but a quaint and fragile,alien and extravagant scatterbrain.

A word about Colin Jeavons;he is the actor from so many TV series,he appeared in "The Odd Man" ,"David Copperfield" ,"Adam Adamant Lives!" ,"Doctor Who" ,"The Avengers" ,"Jackanory","The Old Curiosity Shop" ,"Lady Killers" ,"Great Expectations" ,"Kinvig" ,"Bleak House" ,"The House of Eliott".
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One Good One
tedg18 September 2005
Regular readers of my comments know that I am obsessive about films made from Holmes and Christie material. That's because a cornerstone of film narrative is the game between the filmmaker and viewer, conventions from the detective story.

So it rankles me when good stuff in the source material gets bleached out in a movie version because someone somewhere didn't understand what they had. The Granada Holmes project is a huge offender in this regard. They follow TeeVee convention which says that the characters are the thing, that situations consist not of logical ambiguities, but of attractive places.

And then when a "solution" is reached it is just fine to surprise the viewer, that there is no connection between the detection and the conclusion.

These Granada projects follow the BBC production technique of assigning a different creative team to each project. So within the approach of "faces and places" you get different styles.

I've given all that background to say that one of the episodes in this collection breaks the rules and actually produces a very fine experience. Just this one; the rest is amusing trash.

The episode in question is "The Abbey Grange," which has the happy coincidence of an adapter who understands what mystery narrative is all about and a director who understood his writer. So we get a quite effective translation of Conan Doyle. We have images early in the episode that we see that don't make sense, we experience comprehension bit by bit as images emerge from that darkness.

These two techniques seem trite, but they work amazingly well. And they accommodate Brett's translation of the character. His Holmes is tightly wound as is the written Holmes. But Brett insists on some explosive theatrics to make the point; it shows he trusts our intelligence little when he does it so frequently. Brooding and mechanical and deeply selfish would be harder to portray, but would be so much more effective.

The sweet spot of the stories came from the fact that Holmes was inhuman in most respects. And that to the consternation of the reader, he repeatedly demonstrates that people are more machines than human, that they can be sussed out every time — excepting the few evil geniuses. The TeeVee guys need to create someone with charm and appeal. A mistake, I think.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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