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I remember seeing some of these old episodes when I was growing up and they remain far superior to the updated version made more recently by the BBC. Hence when I got the chance to buy these from Amazon for £21.97 I jumped at the chance using some of the Amazon gift tokens I have built up. The outer cardboard box contains two DVD cases each with 8 discs inside.
Sherlock Holmes is perhaps one of the best known private detectives in popular fiction. Whilst his methods are unusual he does get the job done. Holmes is aided by his long time friend and colleague Dr Watson with the odd bit of input from his landlady Mrs Hudson. Whilst Mrs Hudson appears to be rather fond of Holmes she is sometimes exasperated by him. Especially when she has just finished her spring clean and he then turns out all the papers from his old files all over the floor. The police are happy to consult with Holmes and not overly irritated by him, in part this is because Holmes is happy for the inspector and the Met police to take the credit for solving the cases.
The outer box has now changed but discs are the same.
As there are 41 episodes over these discs I won't go into the plots for each one as this would take far too long but we have the mix of murders, robberies and missing people cases to solve. Whilst this does not cover all the stories Conan Doyle wrote as the series ended after the death of Jeremy Brett in 1995.
The main cast:
Sherlock Holmes - Jeremy Brett.
Brett is to Holmes is what David Suchet is to Poirot and Joan Hickson to Miss Marple. He is simply the definitive Sherlock Holmes this is despite his occasional habbit to indulge in a bit of over acting. Brett plays the part as a deep thinker but also with the ability to go into a huff at the drop of a hat. Brett's vocal ability does make it hard to imagine anyone else in the role.
Dr Watson - David Burke (first series) Edward Hardwicke (second series to end).
Both actors are good in the role but Hardwicke for me is the better of the two. Hardwicke's portrayal does appear to play the part as someone who is less tolerant of Holmes' mood swings and at times is somewhat more forceful. Burke played the part to good effect I felt he was a more reluctant Watson in terms of he always seamed a little frustrated in the role.
Mrs Hudson - Rosalie Williams
Whilst this is only a small part in the series amounting to less than 5 minutes screen time per episode it is hard to imagine the series without her. Whilst in some adaptations Mrs Hudson mealy tolerates Holmes, Williams' portrayal is far more maternal especially towards Holmes. This is despite Williams' version of Hudson is that of someone who if you picked an argument with you would always lose.
Inspector Lestrade - Colin Jeavons
Jeavons played the part closely to the original novels as someone who has a rather prickly working relationship with Holmes but would still classify themselves as friendly. Jeavons' portrayal does the part justice and has not been over acted.
What I thought of it.
This is, for me, the best adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes novels made so far. This is in the fact that they are close to the original plots and the settings used are as close to Victorian London as you are probably likely to get. This is despite the odd historical error but they aren't meant to be historical documentaries so I think we can forgive them that. Whilst the colour at times does appear to be a little washed out due to the age of the tapes the DVDs would have been made from this does sort of add to the effect of the setting of the Victorian era. The sets are in general well made and good use has been made of the candles and paraffin as well as gas lighting to set the historical scene.
Brett added to the character of Holmes by adding the short manic laugh, the hand gestures and by throwing himself on the floor to look for footprints and even jump on bridges just to add extra eccentricity and life to the character. Something which the health and safty mob would have a field day with now. Unfortunately Brett's performance did decline slightly but noticeably as the series went on due to side effects of the medication he was on.
Whilst the main cast did stay fairly stable throughout the run the supporting cast were always different with different guest stars in each one. Some of them, for the time, were fairly well known where as others have become better known after their appearance. Whilst there are some excellent performances from the guest cast and some average ones there are few, if any, poor ones. The extras used in the episodes whilst not exactly RSC actors they don't appear to have been just pulled off the street either.
Most of the episodes are around the 50 minute mark but there are five feature length episodes; "The Hound of the Baskervilles"being possibly the best known of these. The 50 minute format is enough to tell the story well and not over do it. Whilst there is some limited violence within some of the stories it is far less than more recent attempts to adapt these to the small screen. Whilst this set does carry a 15 certificate it is really only one or two episodes out of the 41 made that would carry this as individual episodes. Also when compared to some of the things which are given a 15 certificate even these episodes are fairly tame.
This series is well made and the acting is far better than most attempts to bring these stories to the small screen. With Jeremy Brett's rather eccentric performance and both Hardwicke's and Burke's rather more serious performances as Watson the two do contrast well. These are so far the best adaptation of the stories and there will probably be no better.
One of the two Diamonds of TV shows. There are few things that I would say are perfect, but this show is perfect. In now way could anyone have made this any better, from the writing and directing to the acting, lighting, camera work and action. You know when you first watch this that had the talent and the money to back it. This is perfect.
The adaptions of the books of Sherlock Holmes remain as close to the books as possible, and have Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes (in the closest and best portayal of Holmes as written in the Book) and David Burke as Dr Watson as in the first series, with Edward Harwicke taking over for the further 3 series. Each episode always has a guest star as either a villain or client and they were carefully selected to make sure the talent could compete with the brilliance of what this show offers.
41 episodes were made in total, and all are included in this box sets. Every single episode was written, acted and directed meticulously, none more so than the two episodes in which Eric Porter starts as Moriarty (stealing the scenes even from Brett), and the episode with Robert Hardy as the blackmailer, or the other with John Thaw (where TV's best talents met together). That majoroity of the episodes are 50 minutes long, with several specials that went on for 11/2 hours.
Jeremy Brett as Holmes defines this more than anything, and he steals this show with his captivating portrayal of Holmes. Having read the books, I can say that this portrayal is by far the closet and best. He is brilliant as Holmes, and no one has, or ever will compete with him.
Burke and Hardwicke are both brilliant as Dr Watson. Burke played Watson in the first series, and really complimented Brett's Holmes. He left at the end, after Holmes 'died' at the hands of Moriarty. For the following 3 series, Hardwicke took over in a triumph or recasting, as he almost looks like an aged version of Burke.
Several stand out TV talents do appear. Eric Porter, John Thaw, Robert Hardy, Anthony Valentine and several others. Charles Gray appears as Mycroft Holmes (Sherlocks' brother). In each and every episode, there is a villain who can match Brett's Holmes.
This is just perfect.
The only other TV series that matches this is Inspector Morse. And between them they are perfect.
Buy this boxset.
This seminal ITV series is wonderful for endless viewing and I would recommend buying the boxed set because you experience something afresh everytime you watch an episode.
The adaptations are respectful of Conan Doyle's original stories but contribute a new understanding to the characters in the guise of the rather melancholic and brilliant Jeremy Brett as Holmes and stalwarts Edward Hardwicke/David Burke as Watson.
Brett came to personify Holmes in a way that no other has; his performance was so intense he even 'played' the character off air. His dedication to his craft and authenticity shines brightly in these adaptions- which would have been aimed at an ITV family audience yet carry dark undertones through Brett's gothic physicality. We witness little of the drug taking (which is such an obvious element to overplay by inexperienced and gauche adaptors and directors) but we know Holmes needs an external stimulus to satisfy his profound intellectual cravings and isolation. Brett often appears manic and only just in control, conveying much in the twitch of an eye or a sharp exclamation.
Harwicke and Burke played Watson as the grounded man of reason- the perfect foil to Brett's edgy performance. Although both men played Watson differently, they intuitively understood as actors that Brett needed to be rooted to prevent an over self-indulgent performance that would alienate audiences.
I do adore Basil Rathbone as Holmes but Brett is the definitive Holmes for depth of performance and his sheer bravado. I fear what Guy Richie will do with Holmes!
Sherlock Holmes - The Complete Collection brings together all 41 episodes from the Granada series of the 1980s and 1990s starring the late Jeremy Brett. The series was notable for its attempt to stay as faithful as possible to Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle's original canon.
This collection includes The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes and the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Jeremy Brett's performance as Holmes is nothing short of fantastic (and the reason why he has become my favourite actor) and he is superbly supported by David Burke and, in series 2, 3 and 4, Edward Hardwicke as Dr Watson.
Particular highlights are The Six Napoleons (with an emotion scene between Holmes and Inspector Lestrade), The Final Problem (with Eric Porter as Professor Moriarty), The Devil's Foot and The Bruce-Partington Plans (also starring Charles Grey).
Jeremy Brett brings this series to life with his portrayal of Holmes as the opium-dependant, disguise-wearing, and incredibly moody creation of Conan-Doyle. Although Brett's healthy visibly declined throughout the filming of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, his portrayal of Holmes is defining.
Although this collection does not come with the usual add-ons to DVDs - such as interviews, extra audio tracks etc - the strength of the collection, and Jeremy Brett's performance as Holmes is justification enough to buy it, and the lack of extras does not detract from the collection (although as a Holmes fan the extras would have been nice!).
This collection is highly recommended for both fans and non-fans of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and for those who want to see Brett at the peak of his acting.