|Index||3 reviews in total|
When thinking about this programme the word marvellous comes to mind but
brilliant or superb will do just as well.
I feel I must write a separate review for each episode of this four part series as they are feature length and stand just as well on their own as part of a perfectly crafted series. This means that to stop myself being unoriginal but not letting any aspect of these programmes go un-praised this review shall be long and the others very brief.
I started watching 'Murder Rooms' with a very sceptical mind. I am a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fan, well more than that, he is probably my hero, a man I look up to in almost every respect. So a fictional series on his early experiences spent with Joseph Bell, written like Sherlock Holmes stories did not sound to my liking. Why make up new stories when Doyle wrote enough great fiction to satisfy anyone or why not document his real life?
However I was stunned. This series is excellent. More than excellent. The historical accuracy is somehow unimportant. All you need to know is Doyle met Bell in 1876 at Edinburgh University and was taught by him, Doyle did base some of Holmes' science of detection on Bell's diagnostic methods AND the series is set between 1882-1890 when Doyle worked as a doctor in Southsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire.
Doyle is portrayed as the most moral and gallant man I have seen on screen. Charles Edwards is one of the few men alive who could attempt to portray my hero and actually pull it off. He does more than this, Edwards is an extremely competent actor and slips into his role with ease. I only wish he was in more. Not only is he a very talented actor playing the role of a truly gifted and considerate man with an exceptional script he also has physical attraction, though does seem to be constantly worried for some reason. Here I'll briefly mention Ian Richardson as Bell who is also a very good actor but this is more of a well known fact so I needn't dwell.
If I wanted to I could talk for hours praising this programme but would result in only sickening you rather than convincing you to watch it as is my real motive. So I'll briefly cover the other merits then finish.
The scripts weave drama, mystery, a little despair or romance, surrealism and almost laugh out loud humour so skillfully together I have seldom come across such brilliance. Added with the setting, camera angles, proxemics. mis-en-scene and music at just the right moment this programme is more than a success.
This particular episode starts like the Holmes story 'The Solitary Cyclist' but soon goes down a very different path with plenty of twists along the way. Poor Doyle has just moved to Southsea and is doing rather badly as a doctor as he is too kind for his own good and then is crushed in love for the second time. This episode has one of those great things, rarely done- a funny fist fight, but don't get too relaxed, there are plenty of horrors too.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first in the series following the original pilot, I was a little
apprehensive when I saw that the actor playing Arthur Conan-Doyle had
changed, but Charles Edwards quickly adapts and is really excellent in
the role. As always the late, great Ian Richardson as his friend and
mentor Doctor Bell effortlessly steals every scene he appears in and
has great rapport with Charles Edwards. As he unfortunately missed out
making a planned TV series as Sherlock Holmes himself after his two
solid outings in "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Sign of Four"
(both 1983) this goes a long way in belatedly making up for this
The idea to loosely base the story around the life of Conan-Doyle and the Sherlock Holmes story "The Solitary Cyclist" is a good one since this increases the feeling of realism. However this much more than a sample rehash of the book and the twists and turns are worthy of the great detective story writer himself as red herrings and chills abound, intertwined with a touching romantic sub-plot and some genuinely good comedy that breaks up the tension nicely. In respect to the latter Alexander Armstrong is well cast as the over-ambitious and unscrupulous Doctor Turnavine. There is even an entertaining fist-fight that makes me wonder if it is a reference to the hilarious one in the Jeremy Brett version of "The Solitary Cyclist" which was also played for laughs.
In case any reader missed the pilot, Doyle has qualified as a doctor and moves to Portsmouth, where he finds his honesty will make it difficult for him to earn a living. This all changes however when a mysterious woman comes to him for help as she believes she is going mad as she keeps seeing a strange hooded man following her on a bicycle...
The screenplay is very well written by David Pirie and easily adapts to the change in mood and feels authentic compared to many recent TV historical adaptations that seem to feel the need to update the language for no very good reason other than it probably saves the script-writer a lot of research.
In my opinion this is probably the best in the series, in no part due to the chilling atmosphere that is expertly built up with the music, direction and cinematography. In particular the way the scenes in the woods are extremely spooky despite the fact they are probably filmed in a very ordinary piece of woodland.
"The Patient's Eyes" is one of several fictional films about the
supposed adventures that occurred between a young Dr. Arthur Conan
Doyle and his mentor, Dr. Bell. While Dr. Bell truly was an inspiration
for Doyle to create his Sherlock Holmes character, these films
exaggerate the relationship and sorts of things they did. This isn't
really a complaint--just a warning for you not to believe the stories
are 100 true. They really aren't even a smidgen!
This episode is a 'what if'--what if a case Bell and Doyle worked on proved to be an inspiration, in part, on the later Doyle story "The Solitary Cyclist"? There are some strong similarities though the stories diverge in many, many ways.
The show begins with Doyle forming a partnership with a doctor who is an idiot and a bit of a quack. Fortunately, Bell comes to visit and takes Doyle under his wings. However, a case that Doyle is working on is baffling--a woman is being followed by some strange man on a bicycle. However, because of her traumatic childhood where her parents were murdered, some folks thing she's crazy. Doyle is only interested in proving there is some stalker--Bell is interested in uncovering WHY. There is much, much more to the story and I don't want to say more as it might spoil the thing. However, I do think that the show sent on too long and the ending seemed to come from out of no where. This is a major weakness of the film. On the other hand, the acting and quality of production is exceptional and the show would probably appeal to many Sherlock Holmes fans. Worth seeing but not great. As for me, I'd rather just stick with the original stories starring Jeremy Brett.
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