on December 26, 2005
This is the hardest of the sets to watch, mostly when you know that Brett was dying and looking so very puffy in some scenes. For the devotee (to the point of religion) these are a tough pill to swallow, but for someone interested in good stories with dynamic, if period-questionable direction and camera work (sometimes giving the illusion that Holmes is in a show with Peter Sellers) these are a good watch.
Whether Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie, the stories are sometimes bastardised, but they survive and thrive through the basic strength of the story (even, as in this set, when a few stories and plot motions all end up in the screenplay writer's Moulinex Magic-Mix for a thorough stir!)
Controversial. More at variance with the orginal than any others in the series. But it's Holmes, and we'll buy it, and watch it (just not as often as the other sets!)
on July 31, 2009
The final six episodes with Jeremy Brett as Holmes are often unfairly criticized for various reasons -- it's true Brett was unwell (and sadly, passed away the year after these were produced), but he's still in command of the role here, and it's a mistake for reviewers to suggest otherwise. And while I haven't read all these Doyle stories, the objection that some changes were made to these stories is explained by a need to spice them up slightly, given that some of the best Conan Doyle material had already been produced.
Also, the production values remain solid here. If anything, two stories are overproduced and slightly melodramatic: The Three Gables, and The Mazarin Stone, the one episode where Brett wasn't well enough to film, and Charles Gray stepped in as Mycroft Holmes. It's a solid story, though the touches the director brings to it range from interesting and appropriate to bizarre and distracting.
The Golden Prince-Nez doesn't have Watson, as Edward Hardwicke was busy completing a film (once again Charles Gray steps in, so we get to see Holmes work with his brother) but it manages to be a solid episode, as does The Red Circle, about an Italian terrorist organization.
Finally, The Dying Detective is one of the standout episodes, with great performances, a solid story and a charming final few moments. The Cardboard Box is similarly flawless.
This is still the Holmes we know and love, commenting "We live in the law, justice is sometimes harder to achieve." And it's still the Watson we know and love, given the look on his face in a small moment when he recognizes he can't get out of a game of whist with some old folks. The final moment of the long-running series has the two characters standing in the snow, having just finally discovered two bodies, and Holmes comments, "What is the meaning of it, Watson? What is the object of this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must have a purpose, or our universe has no meaning and that is unthinkable. But what purpose? That is humanity's great problem, to which reason so far has no answer."
In short, not the run of flawless episodes the series was producing at the start, but Jeremy Brett deserves generous reviews for giving us a ten-year run, and one of the most memorable interpretations of Holmes.
on July 11, 2008
This collection does have some strong episodes, particularly "The Three Gables," in which we get to watch Holmes fend off a fiendish seductress! Yes, some may feel let down by a few episodes but please keep in mind that Brett was dying and still continued to entertain us with the series. Brett was the best Holmes of the five I've seen and I'm just sorry that all the Holmes stories were not performed by this amazing actor.
on December 6, 2004
By all means, get Adventures of, Return of and even Casebook of but the Memoirs is bad. What happened to the original writers? These episodes are missing the Victorian feel in manners and situations and have appalling dialogue, plot etc. and not much in the way of deduction and what happened to the characters? They have Sherlock going to a Christmas party (the man who hated to shake hands?) decorating his test tubes with Christmas decorations, buying Watson a poncho (a poncho???) for Christmas. Yes, all of this in the worst of the episodes, the Cardboard Box, which also features plenty of pointless, melodramatic soliloquays by minor characters on love and betrayal and very little screen time for Sherlock. Ick!