The second story from the new Russian TV series of Sherlock Holmes was again a very impressive piece of work for this viewer. The title of this adaptation may be simply "Sherlock Holmes," but the star of this episode hands-down is the character of Watson. It's a more serious story than the last one, a real character piece, full of fantastic little touches, and a real success.
Much of that comes from the weight and seriousness which is given to Watson's military background, as elements from "The Sign of Four" and Conan Doyle's canon are reworked into a story that is intensely personal for Watson and, as a consequence, an improvement on the less personal, less substantial original.
The central conflict of the military plot that haunt's Watson from his past bring's a villain convinced of the veracity of the idea of "white man's burden to the fore." That in mind, it's fantastically conceived that we see, earlier in the episode, Waston earlier in the episode having his poetry rejected by a publisher who thinks he wants to be "a second Kipling, who is already out of style." In the end, it is Kipling's idea that Watson risks his life to fight.
We also see him get dressed in full military officer's garb to offer that challenge -- delivered with the declaration that his opponent's patriotism is, in Johnson's famous quotation "the last refuge of a scoundrel," a context that give his principles all the more weight.
The theme of world powers' racism and braggadocio in attempting to control Afghanistan not treated without recognition of how it reflects on events of more recent world history, and these connections are more clear just enough to provoke thought without interfering with the drama we are watching.
The character of a younger-and-more attractive-than-expected Mrs Hudson is developed nicely here, and Ingeborga Dapkunaite is great in the role. The character is becoming a really interesting and likable one.
Mycroft Holmes makes an appearance, and the trick of filming him so that his face never appears is jarring but quite effective, giving him the sense of mystery and importance that he character ought to have without interrupting the flow of the present story for a long introduction.
Irene Adler makes a brief appearance too -- and it is just enough to incite curiosity (and sympathy for Holmes at his having been involved with such an unstable-seeming girlfriend!) for what will no doubt be revealed in future installments.
Andrey Panin gives a subtle and fantastic performance as Watson, and the writing is once again witty, intelligent, and unafraid to take risks (which pay off) with the Sherlock Holmes source material. All of which make it possibly the best Watson story which has ever been done.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?