|Index||8 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
By the time the Jeremy Brett series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations
reached THE MAZARIN STONE, Brett's health was declining very swiftly,
and the writers attempted to shore up the series by expanding the role
of Charles Gray, as Sherlock's older brother Mycroft. It was an
interesting experiment, which the performances of Gray and Edward
Hardwicke as Watson made bearable. The sets were all right to.
Unfortunately, the script was not.
First of all it was not all THE MAZARIN STONE. Two of the final original series of Sherlock Holmes stories (known as "THE CASEBOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES) were dusted off and unified. If both had been first rate stories by Conan Doyle this would have been fine, but they weren't. THE ADVENTURE OF THE MAZARIN STONE and THE ADVENTURE OF THE THREE GARRIDEBS both are below-par Doyle. They are repetitive of earlier stories (THE MAZARIN STONE uses a ploy from THE ADVENTURE OF THE EMPTY HOUSE, while the central element of the mystery of THE THREE GARRIDEBS resembles THE ADVENTURE OF THE RED HEADED LEAGUE).
THE MAZARIN STONE deals with the theft of a valuable Crown Jewel, probably stolen by one Count Negretto Sylvius. Holmes suspects that Sylvius has secreted the jewel on his person, but has to catch him at it. He lures Sylvius to his rooms at Baker Street and goes into a neighboring room apparently to listen to some music. Sylvius, earlier, had thought a wax statue of the Detective in another room behind a curtain was the genuine article. But Holmes stops him from damaging the statue. Now, alone, Sylvius confers with an underling regarding what to do with an offer from Holmes that if he return the jewel no questions will be asked. This is not the Count's intention. What will be done?
THE ADVENTURE OF THE THREE GARRIDEBS deals with an American and an elderly pedant who both have the same last name. They are approached by an eccentric millionaire's will that will make them rich, but only if they find a third person with the same last name. It seems the eccentric millionaire was also a "Garrideb" but he had no family and wanted people with his name to benefit from his wealth. Holmes is brought into this odd puzzle by the two Garridebs, and after asking a routine question, confirms the "American" is not what he says he is (he recognizes the name of a fictional person as a former Mayor of his home town). But what is he after?
Neither story is really that good. By 1921 (when Conan Doyle wrote the original version of THE MAZARIN STONE) the novelist was tired of Holmes (whom he had to resurrect), and wanted more notice of his historical novels and his quest regarding psychic research and the afterlife*. So he would frequently write Holmes stories with discarded plots, or would repeat earlier, better stories. THE MAZARIN STONE was originally a one act play Doyle wrote called THE CROWN DIAMOND, in which he resurrected the villain of THE EMPTY HOUSE, Colonel Sebastian Moran, as the villain here. This popped up in THE MAZARIN STONE where Moran is mentioned in passing by Holmes.
(*Like many great writers, Sir Arthur failed to see that his best work was as mystery short story writer (actually as a short story writer - he was the best teller of short tales in late Victorian - early Edwardian England). Today the supernatural research is curious, and still debated, but he is recalled for the Holmes and Watson tales, as well as his science fiction tales regarding Professor George Challenger (THE LOST WORLD; THE POISON BELT); and his humorous stories of the Napoleonic soldier Brigadier Etienne Gerald. Only THE WHITE COMPANY and SIR NIGEL of his historical words survive as novels. How many people read THE MARACOT DEEP or THE TRAGEDY OF "THE KOROSKO" today?)
The resulting teleplay was okay, taking the scheme of the conniver in THE THREE GARRIDEBS as a subplot used by Sylvius to confuse Mycroft. It is just as well. Unfortunately, because of this restructuring of the stories, one of the most moving moments in the "Canon" of Holmes stories is lost to the television viewer. You see, in the original - due to an act of violence - Holmes finally shows how deeply he feels about Watson. It happens to be the best reason for the remembering THE THREE GARRIDEBS.
Still the series ended on a good note, with Brett returning at the conclusion to show his approval of his brother's handling the case. It almost made up for the loss of the moving moment of the short story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm not sure how the episode plays to people unfamiliar with the actual stories, but anyone who has read the stories "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone" and "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" probably finds this episode incredibly peculiar. I completely understand that Jeremy Brett was ill and therefore unable to participate much in the episode, but I really don't get why the producers felt the need to mash two stories together and make a frankenstein-like product. It's even stranger when you consider how faithful these producers were to the original source material with most of the other Tales (I believe Jeremy Brett himself remarked on it once). If you're something of a Holmes purist, I wouldn't recommend this episode. Basically, the villain of the Three Garridebs becomes an associate of the villain of The Mazarin Stone and the two stories get linked together. Instead of Sherlock solving the case, we get Mycroft (again, highly improbable, if you're a purist, since Mycroft was never one to move around energetically) and Watson. The actors were fine, though I found both the script and direction to be somewhat over the top, especially towards the end.
This adaptation is worth watching, as an overall Granada Sherlock
Holmes adaptation it is not as disappointing as The Last Vampyre and
The Eligible Bachelor. But... I couldn't get over how strange and dull
it was, though in fairness it was an interesting try at something new,
which meant writing Mycroft in the Holmes role and merging two stories
together into one.
Granted it is very well made on the whole. The sets are wonderfully meticulous, the costumes are typically beautiful and most of the camera angles are skilled. However, I did have problems with some of the lighting, at the end it was so dark you couldn't see what was happening really, though I could just about see Jeremy Brett's(who was very ill and hardly in it, though his appearance at the end actually makes up for the omission of the moving scene in the story concerning Holmes' true feelings for Watson) face and Charles Gray's eyes. I did like the music on the whole, the beginning motif was very haunting and there are some beautiful and intense parts too, but some of the music in the build-ups got rather overbearing in an attempt to make it sound intense. And I can't fault the acting of the two leads, Edward Hardwicke is an appropriately dignified, thoughtful and composed Watson, while Charles Gray, not just in the voice, face and mannerisms but especially in those haunted and shrewd eyes he has, is brilliant as Mycroft. Everybody else is good, without standing out too much.
However, The Mazarin Stone has a lot of problems. One is the pace, not as tedious mind you as the aforementioned adaptations but I did find bits on the dull side. The direction was a disappointment too, too low key and over-the-top for my liking especially in the ending, which was the definition of strange not just story wise but theatrically too. What hurt the Mazarin Stone most was the way the script and story were written. The script does have some intelligent and witty quips with Mycroft but all the other characters are saddled with dialogue that is banal even for Sherlock Holmes, and some of the secondary characters are uninteresting. The story is made up of two stories, and it doesn't help that the stories even by Conan Doyle standards are fairly weak. But the structure and telling of the plot here is very confused, unfortunately I saw it live so I couldn't re-wind the bits(which were a fair few actually) that I didn't understand.
Overall, I am a fan of this series, but I didn't care for this one. Perhaps it needs a re-watch so I can understand the plot better, which I wouldn't mind doing seeing as Gray is so good. But it is such a shame that the direction, pace and story spoiled what could have been a solid adaptation, making it an interesting but failed attempt. 5/10 Bethany Cox
It's the problem with trying to stretch something out when it shouldn't have been done. Perhaps it wouldn't have hurt to have 40 instead of 41 episodes. Here the illness of Jeremy Brett forced the writers to contrive a single story from two disparate ones: "The Mazarin Stone" and "The Three Garridebs." It would have taken time and great creativity to work. I'm sure the writers were faced with an unenviable task. The other thing is a Sherlock Holmes story without Holmes (he was central in the two original stories), instead creating a new team of Watson and brother Mycroft. It's just a mess and a really unfitting end to one of the best things ever on television.
This episode turns out to be a real failure. It combines both Conan Doyle stories, "The Mazarin Stone" and "The Three Garriebs " and as a result it is extremely clunky and unwatchable. Brett was ill at the time, so they wrote Mycroft into the script and to have him with Watson. As much as I like Charles Gray's Mycroft he is being wasted here. The script shifts gears in way that doesn't seem to create any flow. The pacing and the editing are off-putting. Even the direction is strange and at times overboard (especially towards the end). For all the good acting, production values, and music it is otherwise a mess. All of the episodes in this series can vary in quality but this one may rank as worst of them all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A most improbable adaptation of two stories from the canon -- "The
Mazarin Stone" and "The Three Garridebs." Both were written late in the
series and Sir Arthur's inspiration was flagging.
"The Mazarin Stone" is the worse of the two. It was originally written as a play, and the format is discernible under the cinematic mask. "The Three Garridebs" was more interesting and seemed more authentic in print. However, blending the two stories, both at least a little weak to begin with, hasn't helped.
In the opening, we see Holmes sprawled on a couch in the shadows, asking Watson to define "obsession", then claiming he is going to take some time off and recuperate in the Scottish highlands. Then he disappears for the rest of the film. Jeremy Brett was ill at the time.
His place is taken by his brother Mycroft, of all people -- he who never left the confines of the Diogenes Club.
There's nothing wrong with the performances or the production design, and it's good to see John Finch as a heavily accented heavy, but this is a travesty. No one does any good "detecting." Some humor is introduced by the ancient old man Garrideb and his two faded-flower sisters, one of them hearing challenged, but it's small compensation for what is otherwise a dull adaptation of two of the duller stories.
This was very difficult to watch, not the least of which was the piercing, at times completely inappropriate, music. This tended to make it difficult to understand what was being said and to concentrate on the action. indeed, the first scene with Holmes was already a chore to make out given Brett's illness. This required the story to be changed and replace Sherlock with his brother Mycroft. For some reason another story was added to pad this out further. The direction is abysmal here; incoherent shots were made with crazy camera angles that further made enjoying this a chore. I found this a particular crime given the fact that I am a great fan of Charles Gray, and his performance was ruined by such sabotage. www.tracesofevil.blogspot.com
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The single greatest issue with The Mazarin Stone is the absence of the
titular detective. And while it's fantastic that we got to see Mycroft
again before the series ended, his insertion into the story is
imperfect, in that he is sometimes speaking lines that sound like they
belong in Jeremy Brett's mouth and it takes a tiny stretch when the
story requires Mycroft to start working from Holmes' apartment.
Nonetheless, it is possible to trudge through the shortcomings. What seems to compound the problem is that episode that was loosely adapted in the first place. Although titled The Mazarin Stone, this adaptation actually incorporates two Conan Doyle stories: the titular tale and The Adventure of the Three Garridebs, creating a pretty effective amalgam. Although it may surprise and upset purists unaccustomed to this sort of meddling by Granada, I think the reasons are understandable for those who've read the original stories. If you tried to take The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone and place what is on the page directly on the screen, even though the short story itself is okay on its own, you'd end up with something that probably wouldn't be that interesting for most viewers to follow and almost certainly wouldn't take up fifty minutes of screen time.
In the original, there is little mystery. There's also virtually no detective work, because the characters never leave the room and all of the action leading up to the confrontation with Sylvius is related to the reader after the fact. By incorporating The Three Garridebs, this adaptation introduces stronger elements of mystery and footwork: here the characters get out and about in. In fact, the episode is almost more of an action story than a mystery.
The script, however, is generally well-written as are the characters, contrary to what some other reviewers say. The episode benefits from some colorful background characters. The Garrideb siblings are delightful.
Possibly due to the introduction of Mycroft, the pacing or structure feel a bit off to me at times and exposition is sometimes a little on the rushed side. This is one of those Holmes episodes with some weird camera angles and lighting
but unlike some viewers, I've never been driven to distraction by that sort of flamboyance. I wouldn't change it a bit.
As for Sherlock's part, his brief and sudden reappearance at the end is startling and almost seems to require some mulling-over. I take that Sherlock has been secretly keeping tabs on the investigation the whole time, much as in Hound of the Baskervilles, but others seem to have reached different interpretations. Technically, I do get the impression no one knew the last shot of Sherlock would be inserted when the rest of that sequence was filmed. But it ends it up kind of working in a cool way.
By the standards of this series, this episode is a novelty. For that reason alone, I find it somewhat enjoyable, but again, that requires one to view it in the context of a good working knowledge of the Jeremy Brett Holmes films. On its own the episode is well-written, cleverly directed, finely acted, and generally entertaining. Just treat as a novelty to the series and you may find that, while it doesn't quite fall into step with the other great episodes, it stands out in its own way and really is not that bad a piece of TV when approached fairly. If nothing else, props to everyone involved for doing their best to salvage a difficult situation. All things considered, this could have been a hell of a lot worse and more troublesome than it was.
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