Sheldon Reynolds remade his 1954 television series, this time with Polish and Italian staff behind the cameras. This series is played with less humor and more earnestness, but I find it less appealing. I generally prefer my Holmes played straight, but the earlier version with Ronald Howard grew on me. Some of the episodes in that series went over the top with the humor, but for the most part they were charming in their own way. Howard was an interesting Holmes, more personable than the character is usually played, with an impish humor. In any case, I quickly accepted and identified Howard as Holmes and his Howard Marion- Crawford as his partner Watcon. In this series, however, even though it sticks to my preferred dramatic reading, the actors just don't fill out the parts for me. Watson's role as a straight man can be filled fairly easily, but Geoffrey Whitehead just never convinces me that he's Holmes. I'm four episodes into the series, and there is still nothing to the role that sticks in my mind as Holmes. I've also listened to the BBC4 radio plays featuring Clive Merrison, and I immediately accepted Merrison's voice as Holmes. Writing these words, I barely remember what Whitehead sounds like.
To understand my disappointment with this series, I would recommend watching the original 1954 version of The Case of Harry Crooker and this version. In the original, the escape artist is a whirlwind of anarchic amusement. In the 1980 version, which is a direct copy, not so much. The copy seems bloodless in comparison.
For all my disappointment with the series, I still am watching the episodes. mediocre Holmes is better than no Holmes at all. So if you love Holmes, look for these on Youtube.
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