The Return of Sherlock Holmes: Season 1, Episode 1

The Empty House (9 Jul. 1986)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Believed dead after his fatal encounter with Professor Moriarity three years earlier, Sherlock Holmes returns to England to foil a plot to murder him by a former Moriarity gang member.



(by) (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) , (developed for television by), 2 more credits »
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Episode complete credited cast:
Eric Porter ...
Patrick Allen ...
James Bree ...
Colin Jeavons ...
Richard Bebb ...
Sir John Hardy
Robert Addie ...
Mr Murray
Naomi Buch ...
The Countess of Maynooth
Paul Lacoux ...
Rosalie Williams ...
Elizabeth Ritson ...
Roger Rowland ...
John Palmer ...


After Dr. Watson testifies at the inquest of the Honourable Ronald Adair, shot to death after returning home from his gambling club, he is followed back to his office by an eccentric bookseller who reveals himself to be Holmes in disguise. After the initial shock wears off, Holmes explains that he did not die in the fall that killed Professor Moriarity in their famous encounter at Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland three years earlier. Holmes has remained out of England to avoid Colonel Sebastian Moran, a Moriarity associate who witnessed Holmes' escape death and has vowed to kill Holmes in revenge. Holmes will try to foil Moran and solve the Adair murder. Written by Gabe Taverney (

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

9 July 1986 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


Despite Edward Hardwicke playing Watson in the second season, the flashback shows David Burke playing Watson. See more »


When we see Colonel Sebastian Moran firing his rifle from the empty house at what he thinks is Sherlock Holmes, the rifle has a traditional flintlock firing mechanism which we see operating at close range, albeit without generating a spark. As the rifle in question is revealed by Holmes to be an air-rifle and is indeed pressurized by Moran beforehand by use of a crank, such a mechanism would be useless. It seems unlikely that Moran, a master marksman, would have the lock on the weapon purely for show as its operation would impair his aim. See more »


[first lines]
Dr. John Watson: [voiceover] In 1891 at the Reichenbach Falls near Meiringen in Switzerland, Sherlock Holmes finally closed his account with Professor Moriarty, the most dangerous criminal of his generation. The two men were alone in that dreadful place, but the outcome of their struggle was obvious to a trained observer. Holmes had achieved the destruction of his arch-enemy only at the cost of his own life.
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Crazy Credits

The sketch of three hands holding champagne flutes over credits. See more »

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User Reviews

Welcome Back Sherlock Holmes
5 October 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This solid, powerful episode explains how Holmes survived his deadly encounter with Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls while tying it in with a murder case. This was Conan Doyle's way of bringing back Holmes after popular demand. It is very slickly done and exciting with good directing, photography, and production values. Jeremy Brett returns in fine style as Holmes, and Edward Hardwicke makes his debut as Dr. Watson; that of an older, more thoughtful Watson in contrast to the younger, more playful David Burke. Particularly enjoyable was scene where Holmes' "ghost" appears to the startled Dr. Watson. In this scene, the immediate chemistry of Brett and Hardwicke in portraying the strong friendship of Holmes and Watson - is a delight for all Holmes fans to behold. The Return of Sherlock Holmes was a series that really succeeded in capturing shinning portrayals of Holmes and Watson that fans have come to appreciate and enjoy - right up to the present day. This is an important one in the canon not to be missed, and one that can be enjoyed again and again.

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