It's 1914, the beginning of WWI. In White River, Ontario, en route to a training camp in Valcartier, Québec, with the Winnipeg section of the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, Army Lieutenant... See full summary »
John Kent Harrison
1910. Mycroft Holmes asks his brother Sherlock & Dr. Watson to travel to Viena and find the stolen plans & prototype for an electro-magnetic bomb detonator. Once there, they are reunited ... See full summary »
During WWII several murders occur at a convalescent home where Dr. Watson has volunteered his services. He summons Holmes for help and the master detective proceeds to solve the crime from ... See full summary »
Double jeopardy - certainly not Holmes, and not very good
Apart from the names Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, there's really nothing to connect this original BBC TV movie to the original Conan Doyle stories. It's a return to the old wartime Basil Rathbone films, set in the wrong period, packed with anachronistic detail, and which fails to pay even lip service to Holmes's famous method. It's a poorly written modern police drama right down to the obligatory, clunking serial killer plot. It's just dressed in period costume. Even the plot twist about the killer's identity comes in Edwardian dress, as it could only ever possibly fresh and original in disguise pretending to be a story written a hundred years ago.
The story constantly forces modern elements incongruously into Holmes's necessarily, fundamentally low tech world. The story is set some time after the Victorian era of the classic Holmes stories, apparently to justify the use of telephones and modern police techniques like fingerprinting. Watson is about to marry an American psychiatrist, which opens the door to the modern serial killer psychodrama whose emphasis is on woolly sexual motivation and grotesque patterns of behaviour, worlds away from the traditional Holmes story where logic and deduction solve single victim locked room murders. The oddly un-Edwardian London police set up an incongruous, modern incident room to collate the information about their spiralling body count. In one scene Holmes spins around this room staring helplessly at photographs and maps, unable to connect fact and incident, which reduces the finest logical detective mind in the world to the level of "Inspector X" in any paint-by-numbers police series. Eventually Inpector Lestrade himself time-travels to the 1970s to give a suspect an Sweeney-style kicking to make him talk.
Rupert Everett as Holmes drifts through the first half of the story like someone on a mixture of recreational drugs, which is clearly the writer's deliberate intention. Trying to exploit the radical elements in Holmes's character the story inflates his drug use out of proportion. Conan Doyle saddled his creation with a habit of injecting cocaine, but there is never any suggestion that Holmes had a narcotic monkey on his back. He claims his 7 per cent solution stimulates his mind in times of boredom, a world away from the use of soporifics to deaden his brain.
Ironically it seems that in order to make these seasonal specials featuring Holmes himself the BBC abandoned its own excellent Holmes homage, the quite superb Murder Rooms, which succeeded in every respect that this film fails, injecting modern style and sensibilities while still honouring the source material. They were faithful in period detail and in many respects to the type of detective story which suits the Holmes character, and where they took a post-modern approach were able to underscore rather than undermine the quality of the original. It begs the question, as they clearly have access to writers with the talent to produce this kind of work, why didn't they use them here? Even more ironically, in the UK while this film was one of the main planks of the BBC's Christmas 2004 season evening schedule, the BBC have also been showing daytime repeats of Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes. The strength of this performance, and the faithfulness to the original material, casts the poor work here into sharp relief.
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