The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (TV Series 1984–1985) Poster

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You simply cannot make these shows any better
MartinHafer30 March 2008
I have reviewed a ton of Sherlock Holmes films over the years since I am a huge fan of the original Conan Doyle stories. However, despite enjoying these films, I must admit that the many movies up until "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" have really done a disservice to the stories. Part of this is because they so often strayed from the original stories (which were gems) and partly because they portrayed Holmes in ways that were totally different from the stories.

The Sherlock Holmes the public assumes is from the Conan Doyle stories is actually mostly the product of the actor William Gillette. On stage and in silent films, he popularized the image of the deerstalker cap (which Holmes only really wore when traveling in the country--if even then), the curved pipe and the phrase "elementary, my dear Watson". Instead, in the books the Conan Doyle character would have dressed and acted exactly the way Jeremy Brett did in these TV mini-movies.

It's obvious that the makers of these films really cared. Holmes was like Holmes and the plots were almost always exactly like the stories with only the smallest of changes to fit the time frame and tell a cohesive story.

See these films. They are literate, intelligent and trust the original source material. I congratulate all those involved in these beautiful shows. Unfortunately, however, Jeremy Brett passed away a few years back and we won't see any more of these Holmes shows, though it is fortunate that before his death they brought so many of them to the screen. Too bad one of my favorites ("The Four Orange Pips") wasn't one of them. However, my very favorite ("A Scandal in Bohemia") was!
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No doubt about it- Masterpiece!!!
TheLittleSongbird21 October 2009
I cannot praise this masterpiece of a series enough. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it whatsoever. In fact every one of the Sherlock Holmes are superb, but this is the definitive one.

The plots are in general true to the books, which are just as excellent, save a couple of wholly forgivable liberties. The scripts are sharp, classy and sophisticated, and all the adaptations have a certain atmosphere to them, and that is exactly what I want. The music is just outstanding, not only beautiful but very haunting, and the background music is rich and just adds to the atmosphere of the series. And the scenery, camera work and costumes are flawless.

As for the acting, one word, superlative. Jeremy Brett is without doubt the best Sherlock Holmes ever, he is just perfect as the character. He is true to the character of the books, while making some subtle differences along the way. This is all to do with interpretation, and where I am concerned, this is one masterful interpretation of a truly complex character. David Burke is suitably intelligent as Watson; while I am more familiar with Edward Hardwicke, Burke is just as good. Many great actors and actresses have come and given memorable appearances, and I cannot decide who impressed me most, because they were all great.

All in all, an absolute must-see. It is a television masterpiece. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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Sleepin_Dragon7 January 2020
I wonder when they had completed the first series, if they wondered just what they had made, a series loved by many years later, and the creation of Brett's Sherlock Holmes, for many, myself included, the ultimate Sherlock Holmes.

This first batch of mysteries is incredible, it's a wonderful series of faithful adaptations. They are exquisitely made, with great direction, flawless detail, with sets and costumes that to this day look fantastic.

Jeremy Brett is fabulous in the role, he's sincere, charismatic, energetic and still the best to play the part. David Burke is also wonderful here, he's charming and handsome, whilst I always saw Hardwicke as being the closer to the character in the book, Burke was wonderful, and the pair had great chemistry.

So many wonderful episodes, it's hard to pick out a favourite, however my personal trio of choice, The Copper Beeches, Speckled Band and The Final Problem. There is no weak link in this series.

Excellent guest performances, watch out for Joss Ackland, Jeremy Kemp and Eric Porter.

TV doesn't get much better than this. 10/10
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As Good As It's Likely to Get.
rmax30482322 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Jeremy Brett is Holmes all the way through the series and he probably animates Conan-Doyle's detective better than any of the others who have played him on the screen. He doesn't LOOK that much like the Sidney Paget illustrations. He's a little short, but that's about the only problem. His face and figure are lean and his movements are suitably quick or languid, depending on whether he has a case or not.

Basil Rathbone had the advantage of height and of resembling the illustrations more closely, but Rathbone lacked the tic-y quality and the frigid aloofness that characterized Holmes. Brett is an arrogant and superior thinking machine. Rathbone was a detective of intensity. And, really, only once did Rathbone's Holmes refer to the use of an illicit drug. At the end of "The Hound of the Baskervilles," Rathbone snaps out -- "Oh, Watson -- the needle." The TV series went through two Watsons, equally good, and close to Conan-Doyle's original, rather than the well-intentioned buffoon of Rathbone's Watson.

Like many of the English mystery series, occasional well-known movie figures would show up to take roles -- Natasha Richardson here, Jeremy Kemp there. Even Harry Andrews. Their presence added variety to the series.

"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" was the first set of episodes in the series. As the years went on, the adapters were forced to draw on some of the lesser tales. "The Creeping Man" still makes me wince -- in print or on film. And the cast was hobbled by a personal crisis in Jeremy Brett's life, and by his continuing struggle with heart failure. His lost his ascetic look and became plumper and older. Finally, the writers seemed to become desperate, making up pastiches and having Holmes practically fall in love while in disguise.

But it's impossible to criticize the presentation of the first couple of years. The period detail and photography are magnificent, and Brett gives Holmes all the quirks and aversions that made him compassionate without ever allowing him to be warm.
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Sensational episodes by the best TV Sherlock : Jeremy Brett
ma-cortes22 December 2006
This is a magnificent collection containing the splendid Sherlock Holmes/Jeremy Brett TV series . Outstanding Brett's acting , he along with Peter Cushing are the best Holmes television and the best in cinema results to be forever Basil Rathbone . Jeremy plays as a stubborn, resolutive ,smart, astute pipe-smoking sleuth . Doctor Watson as a perfect counterpoint to Holmes is perfectly played by Edward Hardwicke and David Burke . Here Watson isn't a botcher, humorous and clumsy pal as was incarnated by Nigel Bruce but is cunning and clever .

Into ¨The adventures of Sherlock Holmes ¨, I have seen three episodes : ¨A scandal in Boheme¨(Paul Annett), it concerns about the battle of wits between Holmes and the famous Irene Adler (Gayle Hunnicut) whom the famed detective falls in love and results to be the only time which Holmes is enamored . ¨Naval treaty¨(by Alan Grint) deals about some plans are robbed and endanger the country security and of course Holmes investigates and resolves . ¨The solitary cyclist¨(by Paul Annett) where a beautiful young cyclist seeks help of Holmes. These three chapters are excellent, they are plenty of intrigue, too much suspense and mystery. The episodes get thriller, tension, detective action and packs an exciting amount of astounding surprises and twisted ending with great lots of fun . Rating : Above average . It's a must see for the Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock fans .
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tedg31 May 2005
A life in the lucid watching of films demands that many choices be made and parts of self discarded. Probably no such choice is so fundamentally religious as the choice of a preferred Sherlock Holmes.

The character of Holmes is singularly important in matters of evolution, both the evolution of film and the notion of evolution itself.

While vast sections of the US drift away from science and evolution today, in Victorian England precisely the opposite was happening. Until that point, science was largely a matter of observation and deduction of local, abstract laws. Darwin changed all that, at least in the areas of science that were most fully populated. He provided a grand theme that brought sense and logic to matters that previously seemed arbitrary.

All of a sudden, a whole society woke up to the possibility that everything, every thing, every action could be explained if only observed sufficiently closely and from the right angle. Holmes was invented as the character that did just that. His sidekick was the man of the "older" science who was both constantly amazed at the new vision and diligently recorded it.

Meanwhile, at the very same time, fiction was being reinvented in three ways: stories were being serialized in hundreds of "magazines" so recurring characters could exist, indeed the value was primarily in those characters; popular theater was reinvented in London and stories were expected to adopt theatrical conventions; and finally, the "detective" story was devised.

In the detective story, the reader entered into a game with the writer to see who could stay enough in the future to pull the story forward. Each tries to outwit the other, using the rules of logic, meaning science, meaning (in those days) "Darwinism."

Our man Holmes filled all these.

Later, movies came along and for a period there was a tussle within the medium to determine its influences. The detective story in particular became a battleground; somewhat independently, the detectives became less theatrical. Into this mix was inserted the Basil Rathbone Holmes, a pleasant man who wanted to see justice done — an ordinary policeman at heart but with extraordinary skills. His sidekick was transformed into a buffoon to suit British comic necessities.

Since then, we have had all manner of quasiHolmses, most notably in the several Hercule Poirots.

Lucid cineliteracy requires that you use one of these as your baseline, only one as the cinematic archetype. This choice will say more about you than you will ever want made public, as it reaches deep into what you actually believe (as opposed to what you purport).

I choose this Holmes. It has problems of course, the chief one being the baggage of the stories. Doyle's stories just aren't good material for film, and any deviation takes us from the historic fundamentals. But that aside: this Holmes is not an ordinary man. He doesn't give a whit about justice, or even punishing the criminal. He cares only to occupy his mind with following the threads of a problem, a scientific problem.

This Holmes is capable of friendship, but not of courtesy. He is quick to resort to drugs. He is high-strung and bipolar. Above all, he represents a non-mechanical being, swallowing a mechanical cosmos.

I adopt him because he is all these things, plus the creative team has preserved the excesses of the Victorian era: they — the Victorians — believed (as we do not now) that human motives are rational, and they insisted that their "detective" act not as a character in a book, but as in a Victorian play.

That's what we have here, and it is my historical touchstone. Fie on Suchet's Poirot and Burr's Perry Mason!

Only this gives me access to the keyhole through which I can discover the intimacies of noir.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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Jeremy Brett Became Sherlock Holmes!
AaronCapenBanner19 August 2013
Outstanding adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's celebrated stories is exemplary; Jeremy Brett was an inspiration in the role, capturing the eccentricity, curiosity, impatience, yet strong moral convictions of the famous detective. He was supported in this first series superbly by David Burke, who does not play it like a lovable bumbler, but an honorable and loyal friend who simply has his hands full keeping up with the genius that is Holmes.

Handsome and authentic productions enhance the atmosphere in these intelligent stories; all are first-rate, and deserve multiple viewings to appreciate how much skill went into this.

A masterpiece!
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truly definitive
didi-511 April 2003
These comments apply to all series and full-length Holmes episodes filmed by Granada between 1984 and 1994 and starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes, and David Burke (later Edward Hardwicke) as Watson. In my opinion, Brett was totally spot-on for the role. Never has Holmes in all his complexities been laid before us. Brett's Holmes is tragic, infuriating, funny, smart, human. He has his weaknesses to offset his sharp mind and encyclopedic knowledge of low-lifes, drugs, and cigar ash. Stand-out episodes include The Devil's Foot, The Speckled Band, The Master Blackmailer, The Eligible Batchelor, The Copper Beeches, The Empty House, The Six Napoleons ... as for the Watsons, David Burke was more amused than amusing, quietly tolerating his friend's unusual personality traits. Hardwicke was a comedy character, not in the vein of Nigel Bruce in the old movies, but a buffoon with a heart and a mind who could be relied on in a crisis, but often showed his irritation at being woken up in the middle of the night or missing his lunch! For a whole decade British TV was the better for this long-running series.
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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Coxer999 June 1999
Splendid television series about Arthur Conan Doyle's master detective. The series was catapulted by an intense performance by Jeremy Brett, who was a true vision and David Burke as the first Dr. John Watson. The role would later go to Edward Hardwicke, the son of actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke. The series was quite popular in the states as well as in England. Each episode was well paced and about 90 percent of the time faithful to Conan Doyle's literary works. It took chances. It took risks and it was successful. For Brett, it was the character he would be remembered for. Thank God for him...he played the part masterfully.
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Master class
onepotato28 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The whole show here is Jeremy Brett who must've known these were just so-so mysteries and average TV fodder. He rises way above the proceedings by conceiving Holmes as a flawed, quick-tempered bully, with a clear dislike for the poor. And it's all the more interesting for it. Brett's camping it up a bit, but you can't look away. Imagine how you'd read any line he's given, and what expression you should wear to appear sincere; and in that same time, 3 or more motives/reactions/revelations have flashed across Brett's face like lightening. One of the expressions is always contempt or superiority.

But Moriarty is a crappy nemesis. Plot lines in which a noisy, lower class character barges in on someone always turn out to be Holmes in disguise. This ruse was also feeble when lifted for the Wild Wild West TV show.

As with the Poirot mysteries, the plots are total boilerplate, and nothing can be solved by a viewer. If you had to choose between viewing one of the two, it's a toss-up. Brett's Holmes is a far-more interesting piece of acting, and only one dullard is underfoot (Watson is provided so Holmes can appear brilliant and give voice to his mental processes). Suchet nails Poirot, but Poirot is such a 1-dimensional martinet that there's no payoff. The additional penalty for choosing the Poirot series is you have endure TWO dullards (Japp, Hastings) because Agatha Christie knew zip about character. 3 or 4 of her plot lines/solutions are stunners though.
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Enjoyable but not my favourite.
alexanderdavies-9938220 April 2017
I am aware that Jeremy Brett is named as the definitive Holmes and I can understand why.

In my opinion though, I find him to be a bit theatrical, dry and occasionally a bit irritating.

Even so, he and Edward Hardwicke (who replaced David Burke after this series) make this series work between them.

David Burke is a good Watson but he's not in the league of Edward Hardwicke's interpretation.

My favourite episode here is "The Final Problem."
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Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes
jimjo121619 November 2009
"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is highly acclaimed for faithfully adapting the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The detective may be best remembered from the well-known 1940s film series starring Basil Rathbone in the iconic role, with Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. Those enjoyable adventures, however, were only very loosely based on the source material. I've never read the original stories, but I understand this British television series is regarded as one of the better Holmes productions.

The mysteries take place in the Victorian Era, like the sourcework did. (The Rathbone movies moved Holmes to WWII-era London.) The show also differs from the Rathbone series in many other ways. Watson, as played by David Burke, is much younger (younger than Holmes?) and is smarter than the Nigel Bruce comic-relief portrayal. The first episode emphasizes Holmes as a master of disguise and the show even hints at the detective's recreational drug use. In my opinion, this version is more similar to Billy Wilder's THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES than to the Basil Rathbone films, if that's a useful comparison.

Jeremy Brett is lauded for his characterization of the titular eccentric genius, but I think I might still prefer Rathbone. Maybe I'm too used to seeing Rathbone, but Brett doesn't quite look right as Sherlock Holmes. (Something about the eyes...) But you get used to it over time. And Brett does do an admirable job stepping into the role of the great detective and making it his own.

There's not a lot of action or excitement, even compared with earlier depictions of Sherlock Holmes adventures. Each episode is a self-contained mystery, often a low-key scheme in the English countryside. And I don't know if it's the television production values or the lighting, but the stories seem to lack a certain atmosphere. They don't feel as suspenseful or ominous as the Rathbone films, which had that 1940s detective movie flair to them. (Shadows and fog, standoffs at gunpoint, double crosses, races against time, sinister plots that threatened the entire country.) By comparison, this show seems kind of bland. Brightly lit mansions, methodical investigations and long expository flashback sequences. (Perhaps this style is truer to Arthur Conan Doyle's storytelling.)

But the Holmesian mysteries are generally splendid, as the detective uses his unmatched intellect to piece together solutions to complex problems. Watching Sherlock Holmes solve crimes is always fun, and this show offers some classic Holmes stories. I find that some episodes are more entertaining than others, but they all are of a fairly high quality, and should satisfy your thirst for deduction.

I think I prefer the look and feel of the Rathbone movies, but this show earns points for sticking with the Victorian setting and the details of Doyle's source material. It's allegedly the most faithful interpretation of the original stories, so it could be argued that "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" brings to life the TRUE Sherlock Holmes. Worth checking out if you're a Holmes enthusiast or a mystery lover.
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Suffers from Deviations from the Original
aramis-112-80488021 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"The Adventures of Sherlock HOlmes" and the first half of "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" are the apogee of Holmes on film (including TV). Before Brett and Burke, too often Holmes was a winsome genius (think the almost perfect Basil Rathbone) while Watson, for more screen time, was increasingly buffoonish (think Nigel Bruce). Holmes was almost like Watson's keeper.

Brett and Burke were Holmes and Watson as a team. After this, as Holmes lurched toward Robert Downey, Holmes' flaws, especially regarding drugs and misanthropy, are played up so that the eminently sensible Watson seems more like Holmes' keeper.

Not only are the Brett/Burke/early Hardwicke Holmes shows the best balance between the two characters, early on they are incredibly atmospheric and evocative of the period. And, for the most part, aside from a few technical changes in the shift from one medium to another, they are the most accurate.

But the makers of "The Adventures" made a fundamental bloomer, no doubt for ease of storytelling. In the second recorded Holmes story, Watson got married and moved out. It is quite common for two young people of the same gender to live together while they are making a way in the world, to share expenses (in fact, in the Victorian era, it would have been unthinkable for people of Holmes' class to share lodging with a female). Holmes was just starting out and Watson was invalided out of the service on half-pay, with no other profession. But for greater facility for storytelling, most Holmes presentations show two middle-aged bachelors living together in one set of rooms, which is hardly accurate. And this is a great problem in telling the story "The Final Problem."

In the original story, Holmes and Watson have not seen each other for some time (Watson has a successful medical practice). Holmes shows up in the good Doctor's surgery much worse for wear, and tells the story of the attacks on his life, and about Moriarty (about whom Watson knows nothing).

Here, the way Watson is introduced to Holmes' condition is ridiculous. And there's lot of padding and a wholly anachronistic imagining of Holmes' involvement when the Mona Lisa was stolen (in 1911,though this story is set in the early 1890s) that is more like pastiche than Arthur Conan Doyle (who, admittedly, at his worst, was like a pastiche of himself).

However, once Holmes and Watson FINALLY catch their train, the show gets back on the rails, so to speak.

It's still head and shoulders above any other Holmes adaptations before (with idiot-Watson) or since (with astrung-out, anti-heroic Holmes who can barely care for himself). And the Swiss shots are beautiful. But the shaky first half comes from eschewing the literary accuracy that otherwise is the hallmark of this series. Very sub-standard. I was even left unimpressed by the much-vaunted fall at the falls.
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The Best Holmes (and Watson) Ever
vox-sane23 September 2003
When I started reading the Holmes canon in grade school, I was struck by the character of Holmes. He was obnoxious, priggish, intolerant of anyone who was beneath him intellectually (which is almost everyone but Mycroft) and anti-social. Dr. Watson was a more well-rounded character. A doctor trained at Edinburgh (which was stringent in Victorian times), a soldier who undoubtedly performed surgery under fire, wounded (twice) and a fine lad with the ladies. It was clear Holmes needed Watson to operate in society. Without Watson, Holmes would have been a freak. But in movie versions I caught later (such as the otherwise fine Rathbone/Bruce pairings, and perhaps most egregiously in Bernard Fox's Watson opposite Stewart Granger's Holmes) Holmes appeared to be Watson's keeper; or, as with Howard Marion-Crawford, Watson was the officious Britisher to a more cosmopolitan Holmes. Even as late as "Crucifer of Blood", Richard Johnson's Watson is something of a dunderhead. Some of this scurrilous misinterpreting of Watson was chipped away by Colin Blakely in "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes", a misfired comedy; and some in "Murder by Decree" by James Mason's Watson, who, while not as incisive as Christopher Plummer's Holmes, is only dunderheaded on the exterior, and who proves he can take care of himself. But with the advent of the Jeremy Brett "Sherlock Holmes", David Burke's Watson, while still not an intellectual rival to Holmes (who is?) is competent, athletic, courageous, and more of a partner to the great detective. One senses that Holmes needs Watson to operate in society, and Watson needs Holmes as mental stimulation to take him out of his dreary medical practice.

"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is the finest adaptation of the Holmes canon yet. Taking a few liberties (such as giving Watson some of Holmes' lines or putting Moriarty in "The Red Headed League") it nevertheless presents a superb Holmes (Brett) and a Watson who, for the first time, is an invaluable colleague.

"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is a must for any Holmes fan and a great introduction to anyone who doesn't want to read the stories but wants to see a Holmes close to the original as possible. (Though I was disappointed Burke didn't return in the "Return of Sherlock Holmes" series, Edward Hardwicke continued the tradition of an accomplished Watson, but also giving him a mellowed flavor like fine old vintage wine).
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Granada Studios and Jeremy Brett set the palladium standard for all portrayals of the eccentric Victorian detective.
Deusvolt6 July 2005
These comments apply to all the Sherlock Holmes series and episodes produced by Granada and starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes and either Burke or Hardwicke as Watson.

Brett certainly gave the most definitive portrayal of Holmes. One must remember that Holmes, although a decent and upright gentleman had his dark side -- his conceit, impatience with people of lesser intelligence and, as a product of imperial Victorian England, he displayed traces of jingoism, racism, sexism and hypocrisy. Note that episode where he remarks on the French surname of a suspect or in the cavalier manner he uses pejoratives to refer to peoples of Asiatic origin. In another episode he tells Watson that his nemesis is "but a woman." Expecting high moral standards of others, he was nevertheless a drug addict (cocaine in the original stories by Doyle and also absinthe in the Granada series). He also used smoked opium occasionally when in disguise to track down suspects or missing persons. In one episode he was caught red-handed by Watson (the one portrayed by Hardwicke) with a syringe although it is not certain what drug it was supposed to contain, probably morphine as I doubt if heroin had already been extracted from opium at that time.

These flaws viewed in the context of the era and of the peculiar circumstances of Holmes, instead of making him out as an ogre, make him all the more human and believable. On the whole, however, Brett's Holmes is exceedingly kind, self sacrificing and high minded. He could also be quite droll and able to take jokes at his expense as when a phrenologist remarked that he would very much like to take a cast of the cranium of the very intelligent Holmes "until the original should become available." Note that he rarely collects fees and places life and limb on the line for his clients. No wonder the sophisticatedly discerning French have a Jeremy Brett society.

Between Burke and Hardwicke as Watson, one is likely to vote for Burke as he is funnier, younger and better looking. But Hardwicke better displays the character of a retired officer of the Indian (Imperial British) Army by his physical courage and readiness to use his firearm. His portrayal also brings out the difficult side of Holmes. It was to Hardwicke's Watson that Holmes unusually expresses (in a letter in Hound of the Baskervilles) deep concern and affection with such words as "there is nothing that I desire more than to have you safely back in our Baker st. lodgings."

Finally, if you have seen all the episodes, watch them again and keep your eyes peeled for those delicious antiques -- porcelain washbowls, iron stoves, 19th century lamps, brass door knockers, handsome hansoms and carriages, even a pristine horse drawn red and brass fire engine with immaculate white hoses. And were those mansions, manor houses and country cottages merely sets or genuine locations? I suspect the latter. I would suggest to the English that they revise their Sherlock Holmes tours to include visits to places where Granada shot the series.
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The best adaptation...
jc1305us3 April 2011
They say television is a medium, because it is neither well done nor rare. This is the series that puts that statement to bed. So incomparably produced, written, and best of all acted, it stands alone as one of the finest television has to offer, 25 years after being produced. Jeremy Brett, an actor who so completely encapsulates everything Sherlock Holmes is and was. Brutally efficient, calculating, precise, and clever. There has hardly ever been a better pairing of character and actor, so brilliant was Brett's portrayal.

Alongside Holmes, is his ever present companion and house mate, Dr. Watson. Played by two separate but distinct actors, David Burke in the earlier series run, and later Edward Hardwicke. They both complement Holmes with the audiences' eyes and ears. They are Holmes' most delightful targets as they are confounded by Sherlock Holmes' amazing abilities to deduce the most incredible conclusions from the smallest details. Along the way, we watch with amazement as Holmes and Watson decipher some of the most ingenious criminal plots ever put onto paper courtesy of Mr. Arthur Conan-Doyle. What a pleasure this series is to watch, every detail is picture perfect, and you are taken away to Victorian London, to walk alongside Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. One episode that is a particular favorite is 'A Scandal in Bohemia' A classic if there ever was one ! Highly Recommended!
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martin-intercultural13 July 2018
For us Anglophile viewers, this series would have been superb even if the cast had just dutifully recited their lines and tried to look pretty. For this is unrivaled period costume drama, with exteriors and interiors that sometimes make me pause the picture every five seconds, just to take in the Victorian visual cornucopia in all its fine detail. But the series is so much more than that: Jeremy Brett's Sherlock is imbued with such depth, subtlety, color and nuance, the crime story becomes a symphony - a rumination on life, fate, betrayal, companionship, surrendering one's youth, and many other things. This embodiment of Sherlock is not just the moody and eccentric character we grew up to know, playing a violin in between racking his brains. He is a choleric, a mystic, a philosopher, a scientist, even a psychic and occultist when the occasion calls for it, and quite possibly a mason and a homosexual; a man living by his own rules. The 'whodunit?' element thus refreshingly doesn't dominate the story; it is the central character's unpredictable actions and interactions that steal the show. Wonderful viewing.
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Nicely crafted with the usual British flair for period dramas
Rueiro3 June 2012
I read my first Sherlock Holmes stories when I was a little boy, I saw the great Peter Cushing in "The Hound of the Baskervilles" when I was a teenager, and then Basil Rathbone, Robert Stephens and Christopher Plummer, all which were very good in different degrees. But it was the late Jeremy Brett (the posh Freddy Eynsford-Hill in "My Fair Lady", can you believe it?!- who, to this day and in my most sincere opinion, has played the best Sherlock Holmes ever. Now every time I re-read Doyle's stories, I can not picture anyone else in my mind but Brett as the great detective. I can hear his voice and see his gestures, and with all my respects to all the others who preceded him, Mr Brett shall remain my favourite Holmes ever, with his outbursts of temper, his sudden enthusiasm at the challenge of a new case, his cynicism, his drug-addition and his vanity, but also his sense of human justice that sometimes stand above the law. He shows Holmes' virtues and faults as a human being, and can be as admirable as pompous and even irritating at times, like any human being can be. In my opinion, he perfectly captures Holmes' psychology.

Not long ago I acquired the DVD set of the excellent TV series made by Granada between 1984 and 1995. In the first season, David Burke makes a clumsy, bit foolish and humorous Dr. Watson. Then he was replaced by Edward Hardwicke, who brought a more gentler side to the character, a bit more self-composed and equally lovable. And Colin Jeavons as foolish Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard, a pompous inept ass who is always fun and one of my favourite characters in the series.

It is a real pity that the death of Jeremy Brett in 1995 brought an end to this magnificent series. And then a few months ago, I learnt with sadness that Edward Harwicke had just also passed away.

I would like this review to be a little tribute to the two of them, for all the cosy entertaining evenings they have given me. Thank you.
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Sherlock Holmes Doesn't Get Any Better Than This
ericksonsam6017 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Whether you grew up reading Arthur Conan Doyle's stories of Sherlock Holmes or not (I didn't), this superbly crafted, lavishly produced series from Granada Television is arguably by far the best filmed version of Sherlock Holmes. With faithful translations that are artfully done, historical accurate, and acted to perfection. It aired on ITV in England and in America aired on PBS's Anthology series Mystery!. It became a popular series running from 1984 to 1994 in four volumes along with five feature length films.

However, the main attraction is Jeremy Brett, by far the definitive Sherlock Holmes to me. No actor previously has played him more masterfully and memorably than him and will remain an incredibly difficult act to follow for who decide to play Holmes in the future. His performance makes Holmes into a complex character. His Holmes is conceited, melancholy, eccentric, and often very aloof, being a brilliant but very human detective. Brett truly captured a man whose mind is always at work. He truly embodies the role showing nothing but prowess in each and every performance. Whenever, I think of Sherlock Holmes it will always be his Sherlock Holmes.

In "Adventures", David Burke makes a wonderful Dr. Watson bringing a certain exuberance to the role. His Watson is not the annoying buffoon that Nigel Bruce was but an intelligent person that can hold his own and plays off very well with Holmes. I just love the banter they have. Burke's Watson is also impulsive and always makes room for humor. He would be replaced afterward in later volumes by Edward Hardwicke whose take is different but equally excellent.

The series also had fine supporting casts which included Rosalie Williams as Holmes's motherly housekeeper Mrs. Hudson, Charles Gray as Holmes's brother Mycroft, who is as brilliant if not more so than Holmes himself, and Colin Jeavons as the inept Inspector Lestrade, who thinks he can outdo Holmes in solving cases but always ends up being proved wrong. Also, Eric Porter made a very menacing Professor Moriarty.

Another thing that stands out in the Granada series is the vivid period flavor. It makes you feel like your there in Victorian Era England with the mansions, countrysides, trains, and horse drawn carriages. The interiors of houses look like they would during this period, especially with the look of Holmes flat on 221 B Baker Street. You can tell that the makers of the series went to incredible lengths to make every detail accurate to the era and in the text. This series has the finest locations, costumes, props, and sets that I've ever seen.

"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is the first and best volume in the series. It has several of the finest adaptations that Granada has to offer. Episodes such as "A Scandal in Bohemia", "The Greek Interpreter", and "The Final Problem" are sensational. Although, my personal favorites are "The Crooked Man," "The Copper Beeches," and "The Blue Carbuncle". The tales in this volume are the most playful and just like the title, they are adventurous. The photography and directing in these is magnificent giving the stories great visual flavor. These are classy adaptations of classic stories.

This series is a must watch for Holmes fans, mystery lovers, and anyone who craves high quality television.
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Pretty much everything has been said, but...
suicidea11 October 2020
Pretty much everything has been said about this magnificent work, but seeing as there are only 55 reviews so far (while comic book adaptations typically get 5500 reviews) I felt I owed it to the people involved to say something.

I won't go into how Jeremy Brett is the definitive Holmes etc, that's already mentioned abundantly. What I have to say, first of all, is how much a work of love this adaptation is, and it reflects upon the viewing experience. You can feel it in every frame, every bit of dialogue, every camera movement. From the producer to the actors to the set workers, these people obviously enjoyed what they were making, and I don't know if they had any idea how it would be treasured for decades to come, but I have a feeling that they did guess so.

So much has transferred from the pages to the screen that it leaves you in awe. Many bits of dialogue exactly as they were written, mannerisms, sets and costumes... In one particular episode (The Red-Headed League) there's a short scene where Holmes and Watson are at a violin performance. The musician's role was very brief and had no dialogue, but his appearance was so unique that I wondered if it was on purpose, and had a meaning. After watching the episode, I checked online and found out that I was correct: the actor was deliberately made to look like the real musician he was portraying. This is the definition of a work of love: The story would be just as entertaining and complete even without that detail, but they actually made an effort to make even that minor scene as authentic as possible.

In another episode (The Resident Patient) the doctor is taking notes about his patient, and asks him if he drinks alcohol. He replies "Vodka," and you can see from the doctor's hand movements that he's actually writing the word "vodka" among his notes, although the camera doesn't see his writing. He doesn't simply pretend to scribble, he's actually taking real notes.

The attention to detail doesn't end there, of course. In a series where every interior, every house, room, police station etc. is filled with glass cabinets, shiny objects and silverware, you'll be hard pressed to catch the reflection of a crew worker or a cameraman (although you can catch dozens of them in 100-million dollar productions).

The best thing about the whole canon, of course, is the production's respect to the intelligence of the audience. Unlike the dozens of previous Holmes productions, this one doesn't present Dr. Watson as a near-imbecile whose only purpose is to be awed at every conclusion Sherlock arrives at. Here he's a valuable companion. And Sherlock himself isn't a perfect man, either: He has his faults, as well as quirks, all lovingly portrayed by Jeremy Brett.

Although the later episodes of the whole Brett canon lose their momentum somewhat, each one still has something to offer: some dialogue, some acting, something that will stick in your memory.

It's more than a little curious as to why these wonderful stories had never been filmed as they were written until then, although they had been adapted numerous times. Even more have been made since this one, and still others will be made. But in many people's minds, Mr. Brett's face will be the first image to appear upon the mention of the name of Holmes.
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Definitive in all respects
alfa-163 June 2004
If you are going to buy one Conan Doyle DVD let this be it. If you're going to watch a single episode, let it be The Crooked Man.

For this is as good as it gets. We have a glorious incarnation of Holmes and Watson here. Brett's Holmes - cantankerous, affected, whimsical, rude, arrogant, precipitous, charming - can only have been drawn from the deepest possible understanding of the text. There have been similar efforts along the same lines, though none so successful. No other Holmes has come close to Brett's portrayal of the brilliant but obsessed mind, teetering on the knife edge dividing madness and genius.

Brett's portrayal of Holmes is enough to lift this series above any other. But Granada (who are damn good at this sort of thing when they try) have nailed the two other vital essences of the stories and this makes their achievement unique.

Firstly we have a totally new take on Watson, a brisk, wonderfully intelligent man of action, a fearless fellow crime fighter and stalwart support. As David Burke leads Holmes round the Aldershot camp in The Crooked Man, you understand exactly what Holmes found appealing in the bluff ex-soldier, who chronicles his victories, appreciates and learns his methods and soothes his clients when Holme's interrogation causes offence. This is new and unsurpassed. I prefer Burke's to Hardwicke's more thoughtful Watson. Both are top drawer character actors with fantastic credits, but for me, Burke has an impulsiveness and breezy candour that gives his Watson extra light and colour. Hardwicke, in the later series, does a lot more to suggest the difficulty of living with a man like Holmes.

An even more significant achievement is the recreation of the deft energy, economy and speed with which Conan Doyle transports his audiences into the heart of Victorian London. Only Dickens did it with anything like the same authority and style. Lovers of the fantastic Sydney Paget illustrations will recognise his work everywhere in the props and scenery. Many of the more famous illustrations are lovingly recreated, but this is really about the chemistry of detail and pace. Granada have the formula just right. So perfect in fact, that when they try to extend it to feature length, it fails, just as Conan Doyle failed in his own attempts to extend the format to novel-length stories. The longer pieces are again, the weakest of the set.

If this disk doesn't fill you with delight, go back to the text, read again and look again, or you risk undervaluing one of the greatest achievements of TV drama.

Sir Arthur, I'm sure, would have been both delighted and impressed.
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One of the very best television series ever made.
Tinlizzy31 October 1999
This superb series is not only the best adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories that I have ever seen (and I have seen a few), it is one of the best television series ever made, period. Some episodes are better cinema than many feature films made at the same time. It is amazing to see the way Granada and the cast and crew kept the quality consistently high in every episode of this series, as well as the second series of the ADVENTURES, the RETURN, and the adaptation of THE SIGN OF FOUR. Later shows showed some decline in the quality of the writing and direction, and the illness of star Jeremy Brett also had a deletrious effect. But there is no negating what went before. Jeremy Brett leaves all the other actors I've seen play Holmes in the shade, and both David Burke and Edward Hardwicke are marvellous as Dr. Watson. For the first time, I believed that these men were good friends. Why has it taken over a century for someone to play them in this fashion? The credit goes to the people involved in this landmark production. The biggest crime in the series: why no professional awards or nominations for such marvellous work? There is no excuse for this. Watch the shows on video, recent broadcasts butcher the life out of these wonderful treasures.
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It Grows on You as You Watch
pruiett22 April 2013
Before I began watching the series of one-hour TV shows, I watched the associated 103 minute TV Movie, "The Sign of Four." At first I was put off by the frequent hints that Holmes was a needle drug user (apparently cocaine and morphine according to Watson's allusion). Once those hints went away as the season progressed, I became more interested in seeing a now clear-minded Holmes pursue his adventures. Holmes did appear rude, bombastic and unpredictable in temperament at first, but that too seemed to improve with time. Once these poor character traits seemed to subside (or I became inured to them), it became almost impossible to not be glued to each episode. One in particular, "The Red Headed League," was most exhilarating to watch, as Holmes dealt with corrupt royalty, a silly pawn shop owner, and Professor Moriarty. It is a "three pipe" challenge to Holmes, meaning he has to smoke three pipes of tobacco while mulling it over.

This series of Sherlock Holmes shorts has Watson a much more perceptive and helpful assistant to Holmes as contrasted with the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce version, where Watson is an addled and unreliable hindrance to Holmes. Watch for the episode where Sherlock's older brother is introduced. It is entertaining to see them both deducing much from looking at a random man through the window. For any who would enjoy a fairly "family-friendly" fully engaging mystery series, this is one for you.
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simply the best
propsguy16 October 1999
Jeremy Brett is by far the best Holmes to date and his passing is truly a great shame. All of his representations of Holmes should not be missed. The rest of the cast are excellent. The sets and costumes are supurb as well.
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Unexpectedly Sherlock
dhyan17 February 2007
I read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories at once this past year. It was the perfect reading experience--the books I read were reprints of the original magazine editions, down to the illustrations and the name Conan Doyle without "Sir Arthur" looming in front. Doyle amazed me by making Sherlock & Watson my contemporaries. The stories leapt over the decades, over the differences in fashion (wardrobe, philosophy, & vocabulary) to show me these were just a couple of guys sharing an apartment, one of whom being rather eccentric.

Adaptations of literature can deeply offend me. My disgust over The English Patient hasn't died down yet (story and various emphases, not cinematography or acting), for instance. Therefore, after Doyle had made Sherlock so real to me, I didn't believe there would be a portrayal that didn't anger me. At the same time, I had finished all of the stories, and Doyle being long dead, there would be no more. So when my honey discovered some episodes online, I gave some a try.

Jeremy Brett brought together important physical characteristics, the desire and intelligence to bring the character to life, and the acting capability to actually do so. Supported by exceptional writing, with changes only to the point of necessity given media constraints. Brett even added gesture and expression not mentioned in the story, yet fitting as well as if they were.

Fans of the stories should not hesitate to watch this series given the opportunity. Even more, fans of the shows would gain to read the stories because of the greater elucidation of deductive principles.

I actually gave it a ten.
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