Newest Review: ... 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... more
Far better than the BBC's attempt
Sherlock Holmes - The Complete Collection (DVD)
Member Name: mjc121
Sherlock Holmes - The Complete Collection (DVD)
Advantages: well made, well acted
Disadvantages: colour slightly faded
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.