Watson's proclivities toward gambling on horses open the door to the sprawling mystery The Shoscombe Old Place, which finds a famous playboy and equestrian, Sir Robert Norberton (Robin Ellis), in multiple jeopardy. In Boscombe Valley Mystery, Holmes and Watson are brought into an investigation of the murder of a farmer, whose body is found in the woods adjoining land owned by a wealthy property magnate. Holmes's investigation pulls the search in a wide direction, but the revelations are no less ghastly.
In the next story, based on one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's personal favorites from his Holmes canon, Sir James Damery approaches Holmes with a special request from an "illustrious client" (read: King Edward) to intercede in the marriage of an Austrian nobleman who almost certainly murdered his first wife. When Holmes is himself the object of a murderous attack; an outraged Dr. Watson (Edward Hardwicke) has to channel his thoughts of revenge into a bit of undercover work on behalf of the detective.
Finally, Holmes and Watson tackle one of their strangest cases in The Creeping Man, which borders on science fiction. The Great Detective meets an eminent, aging physiologist who has been behaving oddly of late, but the greater mystery concerns who or what may be behind the nocturnal appearances of an ape-like figure that moves rapidly through trees, terrifying the locals. Holmes's pursuit of the solution leads to a stunning revelation in this taut and imaginative thriller that Edgar Allen Poe himself might have appreciated. --Tom Keogh
Disc 1 Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax The Problem of Thor Bridge Disc 2 The Boscombe Valley Mystery The Illustrious Client Disc 3 Shouscombe Old Place The Creeping Man Bonus Features: Commentary Track with Director John Madden (Shakespeare In Love, Captain Corelli's Mandolin) 1980?? Interview with Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke Sherlock Museum Short Production Notes
On the downside, Jeremy Brett's health was obviously deteriorating when the "Casebook" series was filmed; his face is puffy and pasty-complexioned but at least the magnificent voice retained all of its power. And there again is the lousy accuracy of the subtitles. I wish MPI would make more of an effort to capture the nuances of late-Victorian English. Some of the mistakes just make me laugh out loud.
Still, I've thorougly enjoyed every episode so far (haven't seen The Creeping Man yet). The characters are more vividly portrayed than ever and there seem to be less of those annoying "clever" camera angles than in the previous series; the shots are more straight-forward and let the actors' power carry the scenes; just as it should be. There's one shot in "Boscome Valley Mystery" where Holmes' piercing gaze is fixed on the killer... Holmes barely says anything and then the murderer just wilts and begins to pour out his amazing story. Wonderfully done!
And it's always fun to play "where have I seen that actor before?" with the Sherlock Holmes series. In "Shoscombe Old Place" watch for Jude Law in a small but important (as it turns out) part.