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Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Bell & Mr. Doyle

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ian Richardson, Charles Dance, Robin Laing
  • Format: NTSC, Color, Import
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Bfs Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 14 2011
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
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Product Description

Dark Beginnings Of Sh

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If you are looking at the original cover than I must tell you that, the female picture on the front is not Mr. Doyle. This is not a "Glen or Glenda" (1953) movie. Unless you are extraordinarily perceptive or well read, you need to read the rest of the title "Dr. Bell and Mr. Doyle - The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes" (2000). The story almost plays and the unsaturated biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with a few embellishments.

I will not go through the details, as they are fun to watch as the story unfolds. Needles to say we get to see how the different characters meet as a mystery unfolds. Moreover, of course there are plenty of suspects before it is always the last person you suspect. The story takes place in 1878, when medical student Mr. Doyle (Charles Dance) meets brilliant but quirky teacher Dr. Bell. Dr. Bell (Charles Dance) has a side project and recruits Mr. Doyle as his clerk. This is the main thread of the story as the mystery unfolds other threads and suspicious characters turn up. This mystery takes a backseat or parallels the fact that at this time and date "Women" are allowed but not approved as medical students. One particular woman struggling student from South Africa Elspeth Scott (Dolly Wells) strikes Mr. Doyle's fancy and becomes a woman in distress.

This film is packed with fine lesser-known actors. In fact, Dolly Wells lead me to this film as I was looking at information on Midsomer Murders: Death in Disguise (1999 TV episode) when it mentioned this movie.

At first, I thought it was a bit bloody and gory. However, there is nothing to outbalance the telling of the story. The only drawback is the heavy-handed background musing that tries to lead you mood wise as if you cannot think for yourself. The film would have been better off without it.

Be sure to read the cast profiles on the DVD as it contributes to the experience.
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All can say is I wish there were more episodes where Dr. Bell and Doyle work together to not only entertain but eduucat us to the prelude of 'the gret Sherlock'.
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loved it
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa709f324) out of 5 stars 28 reviews
48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7160258) out of 5 stars Another high quality BBC-TV film about the Dr. who became the basis for the Sherlock Holmes character May 28 2011
By Steve Ramm - Published on
As I learned from a little research after viewing this new 2011 DVD release, the 117 minute film was produced by the BBC in 2000 as the pilot for TV series titled Murder Rooms. There were four subsequent hour-long episodes that were released on DVD (but not this pilot). This film - like most "pilots" stands on its own, though I might want to seek out the others - based on the high production values of the film.

The subject here is how author Arthur Conan Doyle created his character, Sherlock Holmes. Because of a restriction on Doyle's personal papers, there is not a lot of evidence of Doyle's early life. So the script is based on an "idea", rather than fact. But as a "mystery" this film is highly recommended. Ian Richardson, as Dr. Bell - for whom Doyle (allegedly) was a clerk while in medical college - is superb. And the much lesser known Robin Laing (as Doyle) is nearly as good. The cleverness of Bell's deductions which help find the serial killer are what keep you interested. And, since this is a "period piece", the film - at least in this transfer - doesn't appear dated.

There is the requisite "romantic angle" to the story but this is carried out without destroying the mystery.

The BFS release adds a few "special features" including "text on screen" Production Notes, Actor bios and - as a DVD-ROM bonus, the full text of the novel The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

I enjoyed this and any Holmes fan - or lover of high quality BBC-TV dramas - should as well.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7160660) out of 5 stars Good BBC Mystery Series.. May 14 2011
By Seen Them All - Published on
This is a BBC series supposedly based on the real history of how Doyle created SHERLOCK HOLMES. The series follows Doyle as a medical student when he meets one of his instructors, Dr. Bell. This leads to a series of mysteries and murders that Doyle and Bell solve. I liked this series and gave it 5 stars. The stories are well written and on par with other "Sherlock" mysteries.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa759d444) out of 5 stars Performances make the unlikely into something entertaining to contemplate July 21 2011
By DVD Verdict - Published on
Judge James A. Stewart, DVD Verdict--It begins with Doyle (Robin Laing, Band of Brothers) telling a story while hiding out from enraged readers after bumping off Sherlock Holmes. He recalls his early meeting with Bell, whom he initially thought was rather, well, nuts. Bell's doing tests with whips and bullets on a dead body, and his reading of someone's life history from observations has the air of psychic parlor games. There's enough oddity and theatricality in the performance by Ian Richardson (Brazil) as Bell to make that initial underestimation believable, and enough passion and determination to make Doyle's later admiration believable as well. Doyle's impression of Bell changes when he sees the body of a beggar and realizes that the police aren't really looking too hard at the facts. Laing's Doyle is a fairly typical student, skeptical but willing to learn and genuinely caring about people.

From there, Doyle becomes Bell's clerk, and they head off in search of a serial killer with a mystery involving a bloody room, some possible poisonings, and severed ears. There's a solution, but Bell doesn't believe it, and that will make an impact on Doyle's life.

The picture and sound are quietly well-done, with no noticeable problems. Extras include a text biography of Doyle and production notes, both of which will help viewers to piece together what was real and what was fiction in Dark Beginnings. Cast bios and a DVD-ROM edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are also included. It's a decent DVD package, although viewers might be distressed to learn it only contains the initial movie, and not the follow-up series.

I don't believe Doyle was really out there playing Watson to Bell's Holmes, but the performances make the unlikely into something entertaining to contemplate.
-Full review at
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa71606d8) out of 5 stars Perfect addition to my Sherlock Holmes DVDs Oct. 2 2011
By dressmaker - Published on
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I own all the Jeremy Brett "Sherlock Holmes" dvd's. They are the best representation of Conan Doyle's stories. This series is even darker but it also is very realistic. It is a prequel to all the other stories from Conan Doyle's perspective. It is very insightful into Doyle's background for his stories.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa71608c4) out of 5 stars Another Excellent BBC Mystery Aug. 30 2013
By drkhimxz - Published on
Unfortunately this is a very limited series consisting of this almost two hour feature and a handful of additional episodes. It is based upon an imaginative reconstruction of the teacher-student relationship that did not in reality exist between medical student Conan Doyle and one of his Professors Dr. Bell. We know from Doyle that he was a student of Bell and based some aspects of Holmes upon him. The nature of their interaction with each other and between them and others on this mini-series is purely fiction as are the 'cases' to which Bell, with Doyle's assistance, was involved.
As was true of the excellent Sherlock Holmes series BBC put out some decades ago, Bell and Doyle is interesting but not exciting, there are no truly explosive incidents, no raw sex, no shoot-outs, no cussin', just solid character development, realistic scenic design, and interactions on a plain human level.
Those who crave fast action and contemporary ethos will not be satisfied. Those who liked Inspector Morse, Inspector Lewis, and others of the staid school of law enforcement should find it nourishing fare.