Archive for January, 2012

News Bulletin 65

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

January 28 – February 3, 2012.

“The matter is a perfectly trivial one but there are points in connection with it which are not entirely devoid of interest and even of instruction.”

SATURDAY 28

Murdock Mysteries (Watch on Sky109/Virgin124 at 8.00pm)

Elementary, My Dear Murdock (February 10, 2008)—The Murdock Mysteries (based on the novels by Maureen Jennings) stars Yannick Bisson as a detective in 1890s Toronto. The series occasionally features real people from the late Victorian era. In this episode Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Geraint Wyn Davies), who is in Toronto to make a speech on spiritualism, invites Detective Murdoch to a séance hosted by Miss Sarah Pensall where they are told of the location of the body of Miss Iris Winston. Detective Murdoch, despite his disbelief in communication with the dead, goes with Sir Arthur go to the location and finds Miss Winston murdered. It’s enjoyable, albeit pretty unconvincing stuff.

Davies was to play Doyle again a few episodes later (Belly Speaker—March 16, 2008). This one features a ventriloquist with a puppet called Mycroft!

SUNDAY 29

Murdock Mysteries (Watch on Sky109/Virgin124 at 11.45am) SEE SATURDAY

Fairy Tale: A True Story (Channel 5 at 4.05pm) Fairly loosely based on the downright peculiar story of the Cottingley Fairies—one of the most infamous hoaxes of the last century—this is actually a likeable enough little film. Peter O’Toole is good as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as is Harvey Keitel as Houdini. But the real strength of the film lies in the performances of Florence Hoath and Elizabeth Earl as Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths. Looking at it almost a century after the events (the film was made in 1997) it’s hard to believe that anyone with a rational mind could ever have believed the story to be true. But it was a time of awful bloodshed and sadness, a time when even rational people wanted to believe in something magical.

Frances’ daughter, Christine Lynch, lives in Belfast. In 2009 she published the first edition of her mother’s memoirs under the title Reflections on the Cottingley Fairies. She still believes—as did her mother—that the fairies in the fifth photograph were genuine!

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415 at 4.40pm) The third Holmes vehicle in 1943, this is one of my favourites in the Rathbone/Bruce series. I was getting a little tired of the in-your-face anti-Nazi propaganda of the previous three, so it was nice to see a return to more old-fashioned detection—albeit set in a nursing home for  convalescent officers. It’s also got a really strong Holmesian storyline—borrowing heavily from The Musgrave Ritual— and an excellent screenplay from Bertram Millhauser.

I also love the closing lines from Holmes: “There’s a new spirit abroad in the land. The old days of grab and greed are on their way out. We’re beginning to think of what we owe the other fellow, not just what we’re compelled to give him. The time is coming, Watson, when we cannot fill our bellies in comfort while the other fellow goes hungry, or sleep in warm beds while others shiver in the cold. And we shan’t be able to kneel and thank God for blessings before our shining altars while men anywhere are kneeling in either physical or spiritual subjection. And, God willing, we’ll live to see that day, Watson.”

 MONDAY 30

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Freeview10 also Freesat115 and Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 8.00am)

Episode 6, First Series—The Speckled Band (May 29, 1984) Another excellent dramatization from Jeremy Paul, with Jeremy Kemp in terrific form as Roylott. It’s a very easy role to turn into a sort of pantomime villain, but Kemp manages to make him a more rounded character than we know just from the short story. Rosalyn Landor, who plays Helen Stoner, is now a multi award winning narrator of audio books in America.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 4.05pm)

Episode 7, First Series—The Blue Carbuncle (June 5th, 1984) Does this episode ever get show at Christmas time?! An excellent adaptation of what is one of my favourite stories. There are three great strengths to this one: 1) Brett’s delivery of the line about the goose coming back to life; 2) Ken Campbell’s perfect portrayal of James Ryder; and 3) and the always value-for-money Frank Middlemass as Henry Baker. This is just fun to watch and a reminder that a great part of the success of the Granada series lay in the strength of the casting of key roles.

Hercule Poirot—Mrs McGinty’s Dead (Radio4 Extra on DAB also Freeview708/Freesat708 and Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am: Monday-Friday)

Other than David Suchet—who also manages to look the part—John Moffatt is my favourite Poirot. This is a very tight adaptation of the Christie novel. I don’t know of any other actor who has played Holmes, Watson and Poirot—but I’m sure one of you will let me know otherwise at alexkane221b@hotmail.co.uk

TUESDAY 31

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 8.00am)

Episode 7, First Series—The Blue Carbuncle (June 5th, 1984) SEE MONDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm)

Episode 1, Second Series—The Copper Beeches (August 25, 1985) It’s hard to believe, but apart from an uncredited role in “The Charge of the Light Brigade” in 1968, when she was only five; and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it turn in the 1984 television series “Oxford Blues,” this was Natasha Richardson’s first major role. And she is very good as Violet Hunter, one of my favourite characters from the Canon.

Great work, too, from the ever reliable Joss Ackland, as Jephro Rucastle. He had roles in “The Strange Case of the End of Civilisation As We Know It” (a rarely seen 1977 comedy with John Cleese as Holmes and Arthur Lowe as Watson) and Sherlock Holmes and the Incident at Victoria Falls ( a shouldn’t be seen 1991 film with Christopher Lee and Patrick Macnee as possibly the worst Holmes/Watson ever).

Who Shot Sherlock? (5USA on Freeview31/Freesat129 also Sky174/Virgin153 at 7.00pm) This is from series 5 of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. This remains a hugely successful series in America, although I gave up watching a few years ago. The lead character, Gil Grissom, (played by William Petersen) has Holmesian characteristics, as noted on Wiki.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Episode 1, Second Series—The Copper Beeches (August 25, 1985) SEE TUESDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm and 1.00am)

Episode 2, Second Series—The Greek Interpreter (September 1, 1985) Charles Gray had been a very good Mycroft Holmes in the 1976 film “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” (one of my favourite Holmes films), so it is always a pleasure to see him reprise the role in the Granada series.

My one major concern is with the screenplay, because I don’t think that Derek Marlowe has captured either the soul or sound of Holmes.

THURSDAY 2

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Episode 2, Second Series—The Greek Interpreter (September 1, 1985) SEE WEDNESDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm)

Episode 3, Second Series—The Norwood Builder (September 8, 1985) Not one of the best of the Granada series, but a few nice touches along the way, including good work from Matthew Solon as McFarlane. It’s always good, too, to see Colin Jeavons back as Lestrade. I have mentioned before that Jeavons is one of the truly great character actors of British television and he was a superb Uriah Heep in the BBC’s 1966 adaptation of David Copperfield. He also played Professor Moriarty in the 1983 series The Baker Street Boys: The Adventure of the Winged Scarab—Part 2.

Paul Temple and Steve (BBC Radio 4 at 11.00pm)

Episode 2 of 8: 27a Berkeley House Place

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Temple mysteries, particularly the series that still turns up on Radio 4 Extra at regular intervals. This is a new production—first broadcast in June 2010—of the 1947 detective serial and sounds pretty good; with Crawford Logan making an excellent Temple and Gerda Stevenson splendid as his wife, Steve.  The producer, Patrick Rayner, was one of the key people behind the Merrison/Williams Sherlock Holmes complete canon for Radio 4.

FRIDAY 3

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Episode 3, Second Series—The Norwood Builder (September 8, 1985) SEE THURSDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm)

Episode 4, Second Series—The Resident Patient (September 15, 1985) Nicholas Clay, who plays Dr. Trevelyan, had played Stapleton in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in 1983, with Ian Richardson as Holmes. Patrick Newell, who plays Blessington, appeared in “A Study In Terror (1965), “Young Sherlock Holmes” (1985) and also played Lestrade in a 1980 Holmes series for Polish television. Sadly, though, this is just a so-so adaptation of what is, admittedly, not one of Doyle’s best stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Bulletin 64

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

January 21-27, 2012.

“And there was nothing else?” Holmes asked. “Nothing of any importance.”

Not a vintage week for Holmes, with absolutely nothing new: never mind, there are quite a few old favourites along the way.

SATURDAY 21

Sherlock Holmes: The Last Vampyre (ITV3 on Freeview10 and Freesat115 also Sky119/Virgin117 at 10.35am)“The Sussex Vampire” has always struck me as one of the weaker stories in the Canon: there really isn’t all that much to get your teeth into in terms of plot and detecting! So stretching an already thin story into a two-hour special was always going to be a challenge. This dramatisation (first shown on January 27, 1993), although written by the usually reliable Jeremy Paul, doesn’t really rise to the challenge. Indeed, it quickly descends into the sort of hand-me-down gothic novel that Hammer might have tried to get away with two decades earlier.

Roy Marsden—better known for playing P.D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh—is absolutely wasted in the invented role of John Stockton. Marsden (with John Moffatt as Watson) was a pretty good Holmes in a series of Talking Tape Company dramatisations in the late 1980s.  There’s a good supporting cast, though, including Freddie Jones, Maurice Denham and Keith Barron.

Worth noting, perhaps, that as well as being a very good Holmes to Timothy West’s equally good Watson in “Sherlock Holmes vs Dracula”, John Moffatt also played Dr Watson to Dinsdale Landen’s Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes Case”, and to Roy Marsden’s Holmes in a series of 30-minute canonical dramatisations by Grant Eustace.

And Dinsdale Landen had earlier been Watson to Robert Powell’s Holmes in “A Study in Scarlet”…

Sherlock (BBC3 on Freeview7/Freesat106 also /Sky115/Virgin106 at 8.00pm) Series 2, Episode 3—The Reichenbach Fall (First shown January 15, 2012 on BBC1) I’ll be reviewing the entire series in Crow’s Nest later in the week—but no, I’m not a fan.

*The BBC is releasing Sherlock: Series Two on Monday 23rd. It will have audio commentaries as well. Sherlock: Series One and Two will also be available as a combined boxed set. The official price for Series Two is £19.99, but this week’s Radio Times has it on offer for £12.99. I suspect it will be cheaper on Amazon or elsewhere, particularly if you are willing to wait a few months.

Sherlock Holmes Special (Sky Showcase on Sky303/Virgin403 at 10.50am, repeated at 2.05am Sunday 22nd) A short documentary on the making of the sequel to Sherlock Holmes (2009).

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Showcase on Sky303/Virgin403 at 11.10am, repeated at 11.45pm) While Robert Downey Jnr gives us a Holmes we have never really seen before (and I won’t complain about that) I still think this film is let down by a lousy plot, gorgonzola script and an awful lot of hamming-it-up from a cast who should know better. Guy Ritchie doesn’t seem to have understood that Holmes is a ‘thinking machine’ first and foremost.

*I’ll be reviewing A Game of Shadows (along with the BBC’s Sherlock) in Crow’s Nest. I would welcome your feedback: alexkane221b@hotmail.co.uk

MONDAY 23

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Season 1, Episode 1—A Scandal In Bohemia (April 24, 1984) I remember watching this episode for the first time and thinking “Wow! Brett is Sherlock Holmes.” I still prefer Hardwicke to David Burke, but this first series wouldn’t have worked without Burke’s understated and occasionally subtle interpretation of the character. Gayle Hunnicutt is an ideal Irene Adler. And let’s not forget the wonderful Rosalie Williams as Mrs Hudson—a great piece of casting and a great piece of acting.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.05pm)

Season 1, Episode 2—The Dancing Men (May 1, 1984) A very understated adaptation by Anthony Skene, with excellent work from Tenniel Evans as Hilton Cubitt and Betsy Brantley as his wife, Elsie.

Evans’ great uncle was Sir John Tenniel, who was one of Punch’s greatest cartoonists (as was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s uncle Richard) and illustrator of the original Alice In Wonderland: and his great-great aunt was Mary Ann Evans, better known as the great Victorian novelist George Eliot. She and Conan Doyle wrote stories for the Cornhill Magazine. She also wrote for Blackwood’s Magazine. Doyle had sent them a short story—The Haunted Grange at Goresthorpe—in the late 1870s, but it was rejected by them and remained in their vaults until 1942, when it transferred to the National Library of Scotland. It was finally published in March 2001 (by the Arthur Conan Doyle Society). Not a great work, perhaps, but it has characters who have overtones of Holmes and Watson.

TUESDAY 24

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Season 1, Episode 2—The Dancing Men (May 1, 1984) SEE MONDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 4.05pm)

Episode 3, First Series—The Naval Treaty (May 8th, 1984)

I think that the episodes dramatised by Jeremy Paul are amongst the best: and this is one of my favourites. Paul went on to write The Secret of Sherlock Holmes for Brett and Hardwicke in 1988, which had a very successful run in the West End.

WEDNESDAY 25

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 8.00am and 12.55am)

Episode 3, First Series—The Naval Treaty (May 8th, 1984) SEE TUESDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 4.05pm)

Episode 4, First Series—The Solitary Cyclist (May 15th, 1984) A nice little episode dramatised by the late Alan Plater. He was one of British TV’s most accomplished scriptwriters and adapters, with credits including Z Cars, Soft Softly: Taskforce and the Beiderbecke series.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00pm)

Season 1, Episode 2—The Dancing Men (May 1, 1984) SEE MONDAY

THURSDAY 26

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 7.55am)

Episode 4, First Series—The Solitary Cyclist (May 15th, 1984) SEE WEDNESDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 4.00pm)

Episode 5, First Series—The Crooked Man (May 22nd, 1984) Dramatised by Alfred Shaughnessy, best known as the script editor of the hugely influential and massively popular TV series, ‘Upstairs Downstairs.’ Norman Jones, who played ‘The Crooked Man,’ was a well known face on British television, although never a star. Denys Hawthorne, who played Col. Barclay, was born in Northern Ireland and graduated in law from Queen’s University.

Paul Temple and Steve (BBC Radio 4 at 11.00pm)   

Episode 1 of 8: The Notorious Dr Belasco

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Temple mysteries, particularly the series that still turns up on Radio 4 Extra at regular intervals. This is a new production—first broadcast in June 2010—of the 1947 detective serial and sounds pretty good; with Crawford Logan making an excellent Temple and Gerda Stevenson splendid as his wife, Steve.  The producer, Patrick Rayner, was one of the key people behind the Merrison/Williams Sherlock Holmes complete canon for Radio 4.

FRIDAY 27

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 7.55am)

Episode 5, First Series—The Crooked Man (May 22nd, 1984 SEE THURSDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 4.00pm)

Episode 6, First Series—The Speckled Band (May 29, 1984) Another excellent dramatization from Jeremy Paul, with Jeremy Kemp in terrific form as Roylott. It’s a very easy role to turn into a sort of pantomime villain, but Kemp manages to make him a more rounded character than we know just from the short story. Rosalyn Landor, who plays Helen Stoner, is now a multi award winning narrator of audio books in America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Bulletin 63

“The paper! Of course!” yelled Holmes in a paroxysm of excitement.

On Friday 11 October 1991 a notice appeared in the ‘Ulster Log’ column of the Belfast Telegraph, under the heading: ‘Elementary task for Holmes fan Alex.’  Readers were informed that Belfast man Alex Kane, who was a lifelong devotee of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous creation and a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, wished to contact fellow enthusiasts with a view to setting up a local society in the province.

Keen to widen the net, Alex subsequently placed a second notice – ‘Sherlock sleuths honour their hero’ – this time in the News Letter, on Monday 13 January 1992 (in the ‘Roamer’ column). 

And so it came to pass that the first formal meeting of the society was held at Alex’s house on the evening of Saturday 29 February 1992. It was a giant leap in the dark!

The first item on the agenda was to agree on a name. Following a short discussion it was unanimously decided to call the fledgling society The Crew of the S.S.May Day, after the reference in The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, the only story to mention “Belfast” or indeed the “north of Ireland.” Oddly enough, there were no alternative suggestions.

http://thessmayday.org.uk/about-the-crew/the-history-of-the-crew-of-the-s-s-may-day/

News Bulletin 62

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

January 14 – 20, 2012.

“I have no wish to commit you to anything without your having it all laid before you.”

 It’s actually a busy old week on the Holmes front. Not much new, mind you, but some old favourites along the way.

 As ever, please send me any snippets or extras that you think I have missed along the way: alexkane221b@hotmail.co.uk

SATURDAY 14

Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles (ITV3 on Freeview10 or Freesat115 also Sky119/Virgin117 at 11.15am) First shown in August 1988, this is a pretty good version of the story, with both Brett and Hardwicke in top form. Good work from James Faulkner as Stapleton—another one of those characters that is so easy to get wrong. Nice, too, to see Ronald Pickup as Barrymore. He was actually a very credible Holmes (with Norman Rodway as Watson) in “The Singular Case of Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud” back in 1990.

Kristoffer Tabori—playing Sir Henry—is a little bit wooden: but the problem is that Doyle seems to have written him that way. He’s not a likeable character and there really isn’t much warmth to him. But I suppose he was always going to be overshadowed by both Stapleton and the Hound. Tabori played Watson to Martin Jarvis’s Holmes in 2005 for Blackstone AudioBooks.

The Saturday Play: Tom and Viv (BBC Radio 4 at 2.30pm) A very good performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as poet T.S. Eliot. Eliot has a couple of Holmesian connections: ‘Macavity, the Mystery Cat’ is, of course, Moriarty in feline form: and traces of the Musgrave Ritual can be found in ‘Murder in the Cathedral.’

Sherlock:The Hounds of Baskerville (BBC3 on Freeview7/Freesat106 also /Sky115/Virgin106 at 7.00pm) A repeat of the second episode, shown last Sunday. I will review all three episodes next week, but so far I’m finding this second series fairly hard going.

Watch episode 1 here (for a limited period only).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00m5wm9/Sherlock_Series_2_A_Scandal_in_Belgravia/

Watch episode 2 here (for a limited period only).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b019h2f9/Sherlock_Series_2_The_Hounds_of_Baskerville/

SUNDAY 15

The Woman in Green, 1945 (TCM on Sky317/Virgin 415 at 7.45pm) This was the 11th in the 14 Rathbone/Bruce series and is clearly not one of the best. Moriarty—already killed off in two other films—was back, this time played by Henry Daniell (Rathbone’s favourite Moriarty, by the way). And after the success of Gale Sondergaard as Spider Woman the previous year, we have the lovely Hillary Brooke as Lydia Marlowe, the Woman in Green.

It’s a terribly convoluted plot centred on what are supposedly “the most atrocious murders since Jack the Ripper.” But it’s worth watching for the confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty: “We’ve had many encounters in the past. You hope to place me on the gallows. I tell you I will never stand upon the gallows. But, if you are instrumental in any way in bringing about my destruction, you will not be alive to enjoy your encounter.”

Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall (BBC1 at 9.00pm) Final episode of the present series: and I really, really, really hope that it is better than the last two! OK, maybe it’s just me, but I’m just not enjoying this series this time round. Note later time!

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Action/Adventure on Sky305 or Virgin405 at 10.10pm) While Robert Downey Jnr gives us a Holmes we have never really seen before (and I won’t complain about that) I still think this film is let down by a lousy plot, gorgonzola script and an awful lot of hamming-it-up from a cast who should know better. Guy Ritchie doesn’t seem to have understood that Holmes is a ‘thinking machine’ first and foremost.

MONDAY 16

Inspector Alleyn (Radio4 Extra at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am)

Episode 1—A Man Lay Dead. Inspector Roderick Alleyn was the creation of Ngaio Marsh and appeared in a series of thirty-two novels between 1934 and 1982. A gentleman detective of the old school he belongs to the Golden Age of detective fiction and has occasional touches of Holmes to his style. In this series of four adaptations he is played by Jeremy Clyde, who played Holmes in “The Great Detective” episode of the “Crime Writers” series in 1978

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Sky119/Virgin 117 at 8.05am)

Episode 2, Sixth Series—The Dying Detective (March 14, 1994) It always struck me that this is one of the most difficult episodes to pull off, because it also always struck me as pretty implausible that Watson could hide behind a bed-end for so long! But they get away with it—just.

T.R.Bowen, who wrote the screenplay, was also an occasional actor: so he invented the character of Charles Damant and played it himself. He also invented a role for comedian Roy Hudd. Hudd was to play Holmes for BBC Radio 2 in the 1999 series “The Newly Discovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes,” with Chris Emmett as Watson and the wonderful June Whitfield as Mrs. Hudson. It was fairy bawdy stuff, but had its moments. Hudd also had a guest appearance in The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, with Clive Merrison as Holmes and Andrew Sachs as Watson. He played James Phillimore in an episode called “The Singular Inheritance of Miss Gloria Wilson.”

Jonathan Hyde had a role in Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (BBC 2004) and Susannah Harker played Irene St Claire to Charlton Heston’s Holmes in the 1991 film “Crucifer of Blood.”

The Woman in Green, 1945 (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415 at 11.30) SEE SUNDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.05pm)

Series 6, Episode 3—The Golden Pince-Nez (March 21, 1994) Edward Hardwicke was tied up with another project and wasn’t available to play Watson, so the scriptwriter (Gary Hopkins) decided to bring in Mycroft as back-up. It doesn’t work. Charles Gray is very good as Mycroft, but Mycroft was always intended as a minor, slightly mysterious character. Put bluntly, he outstays his welcome!

Frank Finlay, who played Professor Coram, had previously played Inspector Lestrade in the 1965 film ‘A Study In Terror’ and again in the 1979 film ‘Murder By Decree.’

TUESDAY 17

Inspector Alleyn (Radio4 Extra at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am)

Episode 2—Opening Night SEE MONDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Series 6, Episode 3—The Golden Pince-Nez (March 21, 1994) SEE MONDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.10pm)

Series 6, Episode 4—The Red Circle (March 28, 1994) What makes this episode stand out for me is the presence of Betty Marsden and Kenneth Connor as Mr and Mrs Warren. They are two veterans of British comedy and give the roles exactly the right mix of off-centre seriousness without ever falling into mere caricature.

John Hallam, who played Giorgiano—and was one of British television’s best known faces (even if people didn’t know his name) was born in Lisburn in 1941 after his family were evacuated to Northern Ireland at the start of the Second World War.

WEDNESDAY 18

Inspector Alleyn (Radio4 Extra at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am)

Episode 3—When In Rome SEE MONDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Series 6, Episode 4—The Red Circle (March 28, 1994) SEE TUESDAY

Who Shot Sherlock? (Channel 5 at 2.15pm) This is from series 5 (2005) of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. This remains a hugely successful series in America, although I gave up watching a few years ago. The lead character, Gil Grissom, (played by William Petersen) has Holmesian characteristics, as noted on Wiki:

“Gil Grissom has a more than passing similarity to Sherlock Holmes. Like Holmes, Grissom is dispassionate with a fierce devotion to logic and little regard for societal norms of behavior; Grissom once smashed mustard jars in a grocery store to illustrate a theory (“I-15 Murders“), similarly, Holmes once practiced spearing a pig at a market to determine how strong a man would have to be to transfix a man with a harpoon.

“Grissom possesses a Moriarty-like nemesis, Paul Millander, whom he pursues in several episodes (“Pilot”, “Anonymous” and “Identity Crisis”). Coincidentally, “Paul Millander” has the same initials as “Professor Moriarty.” There’s also a woman, Lady Heather, in whom he takes an unusual interest. Their relationship is similar to that of Irene Adler and Holmes. Both Irene and Lady Heather enchant Holmes and Grissom with their beauty, their wit and their resolution. Lady Heather often wears Victorian-style dresses referencing Holmes’ era (“Slaves of Las Vegas“, “Lady Heather’s Box“, “Pirates of the Third Reich” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Dominatrix“)

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm)

Series 6, Episode 5—The Mazarin Stone (April 4, 1994) An absolute jumble of an episode which drags in “The Three Garridebs” and Mycroft (Charles Gray stepping in for the increasingly ill Brett—who makes only a brief appearance). It just doesn’t work: largely to do with the fact that the stories, individually, are weak. The name of the main villain in the 2009 “Sherlock Holmes,” Lord Blackwood, is derived from the name Count Negretto Sylvius (Negretto is Italian for ‘Black’ and Sylvius is Latin for ‘Woods’.

Dressed to Kill, 1946 (TCM on Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 7.35pm) The last of the Rathbone/Bruce series this one is, frankly, bizarre. Best advice is to suspend your critical faculties and enjoy the inter-play between Holmes and Watson. Shortly after the film was released Rathbone decided not to renew either his film or radio contracts to play Holmes, hoping that he could escape from the character and do ‘other, better work.” Too late: for that generation he was Sherlock Holmes.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.50pm and 12.50am)

Season 1, Episode 1—A Scandal In Bohemia (April 24, 1984) I remember watching this episode for the first time and thinking “Wow! Brett is Sherlock Holmes.” I still prefer Hardwicke to David Burke, but this first series wouldn’t have worked without Burke’s understated and occasionally subtle interpretation of the character. Gayle Hunnicutt is an ideal Irene Adler. And let’s not forget the wonderful Rosalie Williams as Mrs Hudson—a great piece of casting and a great piece of acting.

THURSDAY 19

Inspector Alleyn (Radio4Extra at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) Episode 4—A Surfeit of Lampreys SEE MONDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Series 6, Episode 5—The Mazarin Stone (April 4, 1994) SEE WEDNESDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm)

Series 6, Episode 6—The Cardboard Box (April 11, 1994) Almost ten years to the day since the first Brett was shown, this turned out to be the last. Yes, he had lost the fire and the passion and looked unwell, but it’s still hard to watch this and not regret the fact that he never got to complete the Canon. I have lost count of the number of actors I have seen or heard tackling the role, but for me Brett remains the best: he eclipses and predominates. 

It’s the reference to Belfast in the story which provided us with our name—the Crew of the SS MayDay—so it seems fitting that Jim Browner should be played by the Belfast born Ciaran Hinds.

Terror By Night (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415 at 7.55pm) Released in February 1946 this was the second last of the Rathbone/Bruce series. It’s all a bit stagey—hard to avoid when set on a train—but at least it’s Holmes the detective rather than Holmes the Nazi fighter. Good performance from Alan Mowbray as a disguised Colonel Moran, “the most sinister, ruthless and diabolically clever henchman of our late and unlamented friend, Professor Moriarty.” Mowbray had also played Inspector Gore-King in “Sherlock Holmes” (1932, with Clive Brooke as Holmes) and  Inspector Lestrade in “A Study in Scarlet” (1933, with Reginald Owen as Holmes.

FRIDAY 20

Murder by the Book (Radio4 Extra at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) A delightful little play with Mary Wimbush and Doreen Mantle as two elderly librarians who decide to investigate when a corpse is found in the crime section of the library. We are on very firm Miss Marple territory! Mary Wimbush played Mrs. Maberley in the Merrison/Williams version of ‘The Three Gables’ in 1994. She was married to Howard Marion-Crawford, who had played Watson to Ronald Howard’s Holmes in the 1954 television series; and he also played Holmes in a 1948 radio version of ‘The Speckled Band.’ Doreen Mantle is probably best known for playing Mrs Warboys, neighbour of Victor Meldrew in ‘One Foot In The Grave.’ Episode 3 of the first series was called “The Valley of Fear,” while episode 6 was “The Return of the Speckled Band.” 

Series 6, Episode 6—The Cardboard Box (April 11, 1994) SEE THURSDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.05pm)

Season 1, Episode 1—A Scandal In Bohemia (April 24, 1984) SEE WEDNESDAY

From Hell (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky307/Virgin407 at 11.00pm) The Ripper/Holmes ‘connection’ has been explored in a number of books and films, most notably “A Study in Terror” and “Murder by Decree.” This 2001 film doesn’t feature Holmes, but it does have Johnny Depp as Inspector Abberline, a detective who displays some distinctly Holmesian characteristics. And it’s also pretty good, albeit a little grisly in places.

BBC Radio4 Extra can be heard on any of the following: DAB/Freeview708/Freesat708 also Sky0131/Virgin910. It’s also available online at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4extra

For BBC Radio4, check national variations. It’s also available at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4

News Bulletin 61

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

January 7 – 13, 2012.

“I will conceal nothing from you.”

Maybe not a vintage week in terms of Holmes, but a few nice nuggets along the way.

SATURDAY 7

The Master Blackmailer (ITV3 on Freeview10/Freesat115 also Sky119/Virgin117 at 10.35am) First shown on January 2, 1992 this is one of the two-hour specials which feels very padded to me. The problem is that the original story is, in a matter of speaking, an open and shut case. There isn’t really any detecting for Holmes to do and the villain is bumped off as he and Watson hide behind a curtain. It would probably have needed padding even if it had been the usual length (around fifty minutes once you discount the time for adverts), so stretching it by another fifty minutes was going to require something fairly meaty. Unfortunately, dramatist Jeremy Paul hasn’t been able to find enough meat.

The media at the time made a bit of a fuss of ‘the kiss’ between Holmes and Agatha (played by Sophie Thompson, whom I would have been delighted to kiss): but Brett commented that “I was concerned about the scene because I thought we might be infringing on Sherlock’s sexuality given that he is such a private man.” I’ll leave you to interpret that for yourselves.

Robert Hardy, who plays Milverton, has a long association with the Canon, having read many of them on audio books and playing Holmes to Nigel Stock’s Watson on eight occasions. I’m not sure he gets it quite right here—there’s just a little too much mince with the menace.

Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (BBC 3 on Freeview7/Freesat10 also Sky115/Virgin106 at 7.00pm – repeat of episode 1 first shown on Sunday, January 1) What a wonderful way to celebrate the New Year! This was a huge ratings and critical success for the BBC last year and by all accounts the next three episodes are up to the same standard. It works, I think, because in precisely the same way that Granada ensured the accuracy of period detail and plotting with the Brett series, writers/creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have ensured that Holmes fits perfectly into this era. This is good stuff.

I will write an overall review of the series when the last episode—The Reichenbach Fall—has been shown; and I will tie it in with a review of A Game of Shadows.

SUNDAY 8

Sherlock: The Hounds of Baskerville (BBC1 at 8.30pm – note slightly later time!) Last week’s episode seemed to go down very well with critics—and with a number of my non-Holmesian friends. I had very mixed feelings about it! Anyway, here’s the second in the series.

There’s an interesting piece in the Radio Times (January 7-13 issue) by Mark Gatiss, giving some background to the writing of this episode.

MONDAY 9

Round the Horne (BBC Radio4 Extra on DAB/Freeview & Freesat708 also Sky0131/Virgin910 at 8am, 12pm and 7pm) First aired in 1968 this has a piece in which Julian and Sandy—as camp as Butlins at the peak of its popularity—take a pop at Holmes in ‘The Bona Detective Agency.’ Kenneth Williams played Sir Henry Baskerville in the 1978 version of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” (with Peter Cook as Holmes and Dudley Moore as Watson). Round the Horne has always been one of my favourite comedy shows, so thanks to Oscar for steering me towards this episode.

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415 at 7.45pm) Almost three years after 20th Century-Fox had decided not to continue the Rathbone/Bruce series, Universal Pictures picked up the option and pitted our heroes against the Nazis. The plot has a number of interesting twists, not least that one of the supposed good guys turns out to be von Bork. Ok, it’s enjoyable, if undemanding stuff, but Bruce still grates as Watson—particularly in this sort of war time setting. I’ve never been convinced that the WW2 films played any significant role in propaganda terms. Indeed, it’s hard to disagree with film critic Howard Barnes’ view: “As a sort of intelligence officer in the present conflict, the detective is bizarre and ineffective.” But audiences seemed to like it.

TUESDAY 10

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.05am) Series 5, Episode 4—The Boscombe Valley Mystery (March 14, 1991) Peter Vaughn—playing Mr. Turner—was a very good Charles Augustus Milverton in the Merrison/Williams radio series and is equally good here. He’s one of our very best character actors, best known for roles in Citizen Smith, Porridge and Our Friends In The North.

James Purefoy—playing James McCarthy—had screen tested for the role of James Bond in 1995, losing out to Pierce Brosnan. He lost out again a few years later to Daniel Craig. I’m not 100% certain, but this may have been his first TV/film role.

Dover Goes to Pott (BBC Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) Politically incorrect and slightly vulgar they may be, but there is still a good detective story and plot at the heart of Joyce Porter’s Inspector Dover books. This is the first of a run of four this week, starring Kenneth Cranham as Dover.

WEDNESDAY 11

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.05am) Series 5, Episode 5—The Illustrious Client (March 21, 1991) Very nice—if that’s the right word in the circumstances—performance from Anthony Valentine as Baron Gruner. He had enjoyed great success in Callan, Colditz and Raffles. Raffles, of course, was written by E.W. Hornung, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law.

From Hell (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky307/Virgin407 at 10pm) The Ripper/Holmes ‘connection’ has been explored in a number of books and films, most notably “A Study in Terror” and “Murder by Decree.” This 2001 film doesn’t feature Holmes, but it does have Johnny Depp as Inspector Abberline, a detective who displays some distinctly Holmesian characteristics. And it’s also pretty good, albeit a little grisly in places.

Dover and the Claret Tappers (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) See Tuesday

THURSDAY 12

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.05am) Season 5, Episode 6—The Creeping Man (March 28, 1991) I’ve always regarded this as one of the silliest stories in the entire Canon, lacking credibility, logic, plot or detection. Sarah Woodward—playing Edith Presbury—is the daughter of Edward Woodward, who has played Holmes in “Hands of a Murderer.”

Dover Beats the Band (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) See Tuesday

FRIDAY 13

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 8.00am) Series 6, Episode 1—The Three Gables (March 7th, 1994) Brett was quite ill when this series was made and at times his performances bordered on the manic. Indeed, by this time, a decade since the Granada series first went into production, the whole series had slowed down and lost its edge. A good turn, though, from Peter Wyngarde as Langdale Pike. And if you think that ‘Dora’ looks familiar, that’s because she’s played by Edward Hardwicke’s daughter, Emma Hardwicke.

Who Shot Sherlock? (Channel 5 at 5.30pm) This is from series 5 (11/25) of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. This remains a hugely successful series in America, although I gave up watching a few years ago. The lead character, Gil Grissom, (played by William Petersen) has Holmesian characteristics, as noted on Wiki:

 “Gil Grissom has a more than passing similarity to Sherlock Holmes. Like Holmes, Grissom is dispassionate with a fierce devotion to logic and little regard for societal norms of behavior; Grissom once smashed mustard jars in a grocery store to illustrate a theory (“I-15 Murders”), similarly, Holmes once practiced spearing a pig at a market to determine how strong a man would have to be to transfix a man with a harpoon.

 “Grissom possesses a Moriarty-like nemesis, Paul Millander, whom he pursues in several episodes (“Pilot”, “Anonymous” and “Identity Crisis”). Coincidentally, “Paul Millander” has the same initials as “Professor Moriarty.” There’s also a woman, Lady Heather, in whom he takes an unusual interest. Their relationship is similar to that of Irene Adler and Holmes. Both Irene and Lady Heather enchant Holmes and Grissom with their beauty, their wit and their resolution. Lady Heather often wears Victorian-style dresses referencing Holmes’ era.

Dover and the Unkindest Cut of All (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) See Tuesday

 

 

News Bulletin 60

“What’s up, then?” said Holmes with a twinkle in his eye.

BBC SHERLOCK 2 SPECIAL EDITION!

“Good-night, Mister Sherlock Holmes.”

The first episode (of three) in the second series of Sherlock is scheduled for this evening (Sunday 1 January) at 8.10pm (until 9.40pm) on BBC1 (also BBC1 HD). It’s repeated on Saturday 7 January on BBC3 at 7pm.

Episode 1, A Scandal in Belgravia is based on A Scandal in Bohemia with Lara Pulver taking the part of Irene Adler. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00m5wm9

Alex’s Sherlock Previews.

You’ll find Alex’s Kane’s initial take on the new series in his latest Preview (see News Bulletin 59) so don’t miss that.

Alex will preview each episode in turn in subsequent weeks and he will review the entire series together with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows after episode 3 has been shown.

Episode 2 –Time Tweak!

Episode 2, The Hounds of Baskerville is scheduled for Sunday 8 January at 8.30pm (this is 20 minutes later than episode 1 is being shown).

Free SH Books, Unless You Live In NI!

Radio Times in conjunction with Penguin Books is offering its readers three Sherlock Holmes (the original stories) paperbacks free to tie-in with Sherlock series 2. The first giveaway is A Scandal in Bohemia and other stories. Full details are in the current issue (dated 31 December 2011 – 6 January 2012) which is on sale until Monday 2 January. Loyal RT readers living in Northern Ireland needn’t get too excited however – they won’t be getting any of these freebies. Their only option is to cough up £2.99 to get the books by post (plus a stamp for the application in the first instance). The reason for this unfortunate state of affairs is that there are no Rymans stores here – RT’s partners in this promo.

Sherlock DVD Due In 3 Weeks.

The second series of Sherlock will be released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray on 23 January 2012, the day after the final episode is due to be screened. Radio Times for w/c 31 December (p64) says it’s due on 5 March but we don’t buy that.

Radio Times is offering the DVD on pre-order for £12.99 (RRP £20.42). That’s the same price as Amazon.co.uk. Amazon’s Blu-ray price is £17.49.

Those of you who never got around to buying series 1 can now pick it up at Amazon for only £4.99 (new) or £6.99 for Blu-ray. Amazon is also offering ‘double deals’ on series 1 & 2 together (also Blue-ray). Amazon’s Love Film division will be offering series 2 for rental (both formats).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sherlock-2-DVD-Benedict-Cumberbatch/dp/B005UL537Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1324920021&sr=1-1 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sherlock-2-Blu-ray-Region-Free/dp/B005UL53AQ/ref=sr_1_3?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1324920021&sr=1-3

We’re wondering what extras the new DVD will have to offer us. The first series DVD included the unseen pilot episode which was a nice bonus so unless there’s another one of those lurking in the shadows all we’re probably going to get are the bog-standard behind the scenes shots and interviews.

SH2 Box Office – It’s A Mixed Picture!

It was a definite case of failure to put bums on seats! Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows may have topped the box office but it was still a disappointing result for the first weekend in North America (US & Canada). The film lifted c.$40m, compared to c.$60 for SH1. However, it should be noted that it was a slow weekend for takings. www.bakerstreetblog.com

It was a much better picture in the UK where the film made £3.83m over a three-day period compared to £3.08 for SH1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-16262418

SH2 – More Reviews.

The UK’s leading film magazines, Empire and Total Film have both reviewed Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows in their latest issues (February 2012). Contrary to what many reviewers have written, both these critiques are generally positive.

http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=137034

http://www.totalfilm.com/reviews/cinema/sherlock-holmes-a-game-of-shadows

The Irish Times review can be found here as can their tie-in interview with Jared Harris (who plays Moriarty) and a short review of Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/theticket/2011/1216/1224309133588.html

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/theticket/2011/1216/1224309126769_pf.html

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/theticket/2011/1216/1224309132704.html

A Classic Study.

Classics Illustrated no.37 – due this month –  will be A Study in Scarlet issue. The magazine, which publishes classic novels in cartoon strip format should be available at WH Smith and Eason’s (usually in the comics section, we are reliably informed). http://www.classicsillustrated.co.uk/

 A Very Happy New Year to all our readers!