"The Second Stain"
Arguably the most entertaining and satisfying episode from the entire Granada Television series about Sherlock Holmes, "The Second Stain" finds Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous sleuth facing intertwining problems, each with very different consequences. On the one hand, a saber-rattling letter to the British government from a "foreign potentate" has disappeared from the hands of the Rt. Honorable Trelawney Hope (Stuart Wilson), which could incite a major war if it turns up in some visible way. On the other hand, Hope's wife, Lady Hilda (Patricia Hodge), appears to know something about the letter's disposition, but she won't say on pain of some undefined disaster to her marriage. Holmes (Jeremy Brett in his finest hour) and Dr. Watson (a wonderful performance by Edward Hardwicke) can't unravel one mystery without tackling the other, and then there is a murder to boot. The results are well worth the story complications that ensue. The look of epiphany on Brett's face when the ever-clueless Inspector Lestrade (Colin Jeavons) tells Holmes about an odd detail in the murder victim's home--the placement of a certain bloodstained rug doesn't correspond to the location of the soaked-through stain on the floor below--is enormous fun.
"The Six Napoleons"
Yup, that is Counselor Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation, looking particularly glum in this episode from Granada Television's Sherlock Holmes series. Troi--or rather actress Marina Sirtis--is part of the cast of this wild mystery, which suggests that a madman with a grudge against Napoleon Bonaparte is smashing clay busts of his likeness all over London. Dr. Watson proposes that the criminal has a psychological obsession, but Holmes scoffs at that idea. There is indeed much more going on than meets the eye in this story, as plainly evidenced when a notorious Mafia figure turns up dead. Meanwhile, anyone in possession of ornamental Bonapartes is in danger--and only Holmes knows why. This exciting installment in the series is also noteworthy for its rare glimpse of a softer side of Holmes, as seen in a memorable coda to the story. Brett is brilliant as the famed sleuth. --Tom Keogh