|Index||4 reviews in total|
I got the DVD of the four post-pilot episodes from the library. These are not just re-warmed Sherlock Holmes stories, and that's a good thing. The plots and the atmosphere is often quite Gothic, with supernatural elements pulling the stories away from standard murder mysteries. As a fan of both Gothic horror and crime mysteries, I recommend them for the atmosphere and for the view of the harsh underbelly of Victorian England. I'm not a big fan of the actor playing Doyle, but that's not enough to take away from the positives in the various characters. The actors who play Watson in the Holmes stories never satisfy me either, so perhaps I'm too critical in that manner.
An atmospheric series usually employs a lot of dry ice, and this one is
no exception, taking place in a Gothic style London.
Arthur Conan Doyle got his inspiration for Sherlock Holmes from a doctor for whom he clerked, Dr. Bell. This series is about mysteries which Dr. Bell solved. So in a way, it's Holmes and Watson by way of Bell and Doyle.
The mysteries are good, drawing on the supernatural and even the horror genre for plots. The problem is that using the name "Sherlock Holmes" is like a bait and switch. Dr. Bell has none of Holmes' quirks - in fact, he's not in it enough for us to see much of anything. The focus is on the less interesting Watson. The series explores his current life as well as his past.
Robert Louis Stevenson read "A Study and Scarlet" and wrote to Doyle saying, "Can this be my old friend Joe Bell?" referring to Sherlock. I'm not sure, if you took Sherlock's name out of the title, if it would be all that readily apparent that Bell is the inspiration for Holmes.
I would have switched the focus and done more with the medical side of Dr. Bell. But I didn't produce it. I don't know where the series aired originally, but it strikes me it was on Masterpiece Theatre -- I would say it's a typical Masterpiece Theatre mystery series, though not exceptional.
It is well known that Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes was based in
part on Dr. Joseph Bell, whom he clerked for. When I heard that there
was a series based on the relationship between Doyle and Bell I was
quite curious, hoping to learn what Bell was like, how he used his
remarkable powers of observation to diagnose patients, and in what ways
he inspired Doyle.
That's not what I got.
Instead, this completely fictionalized series simply turns Dr. Bell into an elderly Sherlock Holmes to Doyle's young Dr. Watson. The result is Sherlock Holmes minus Sherlock Holmes, and the blander character of Bell is far less engaging that the quirky Sherlock.
I only watched the first episode, which was poorly designed. The plot was a ramshackle construct, the pieces fit together poorly, and the show dragged inexcusably; at two hours it was twice as long as it needed to be.
I feel certain that the story of a brilliant, original physician teaching medicine would be far more interesting than this fanciful concoction. Perhaps someday that show will be made. For now the closest thing, I suppose, is House, a series about a brilliant doctor with fine deductive reasoning. As different as House is from Sherlock Holmes, he is far closer to the spirit of the Holmes books than Murder Rooms.
To start with, this series is undoubtedly a fine series, not a bit like American cheap thrillers; Ian Richardson plays Dr. Bell extremely well, in fact, so well that I think his adaptation of Dr. Bell is much better than his previous adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. Plots are good, characters interesting, setting&costumes acceptable...but the drawback is that this series is too traditional. There's death, love, conflicts, climax and anticlimax, prejudice and misunderstanding, among many other things that are typical of ordinary TV series. The whole series seems like the work of an aspiring writer, promising to be great, but still needs to be polished. To come to the point, as a big fan of Sherlock Holmes stories, I am not in the least interested in how Doyle gains the affections of his fellow female student, or what his school life is like etc. The most things I want to know are METHODS-what exact methods Dr. Bell uses in solving crime mysteries(there's not enough shown in the series)-and which parts of the crime mysteries are later reflected in Doyle's Holmes stories&c, &c. In short, I want the series to be more documentary-like, I don't want it to be an ordinary crime-mystery one.
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