Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:
‘Double Issue’ for December 17-30, 2011
“I fear there is not very much”
There’s nothing new on the Sherlock front over the next couple of weeks—unless, of course, there’s something you haven’t seen! Actually, there isn’t all that much Sherlock stuff at all. The really good New Year news is that the Cumberbatch/Freeman “Sherlock” is back in January with three new episodes – BBC1 on Sunday 1 January 2012 at 8.10pm.
And, as ever, I’m always happy to get your snippets, additions, amendments, corrections etc: send them to email@example.com
Anyway, enjoy whatever holidays you have coming and have a happy, peaceful and wonderfully relaxing Christmas.
Dressed to Kill, 1946 (TCM on Sky317/Virgin 415 at 5.05pm) 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. http://www.tcmuk.tv/index.php
Dressed to Kill, 1946 (TCM on Sky317/Virgin 415 at 9.05am) See Saturday
Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky 307/Virgin407 at 9.00pm) 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. http://movies.sky.com/
Sherlock Holmes: The Eligible Bachelor (ITV3 on Freeview10/Freesat115/Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.00am) First shown on February 3, 1993, this is another one of the two-hour specials: and it outstays its welcome, by adding elements which just don’t make sense.
Simon Williams—playing Lord St Simon—has adapted the Hound for the theatre, albeit as “a comedy melodrama, where an ancient curse returns to terrify the Baskerville family.” I can’t actually recall many laughs in the original story! Anna Calder-Marshall—playing Helena/Agnes Northcote—is the wife of David Burke, the first to play Watson to Brett’s Holmes. Mary Ellis—playing Lady Florence—was born before “The Adventure of the Empty House” was published: she also appeared as Mary Maberley in Granada’s “The Three Gables” in March 1994. It was to be her final performance.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1939 (TCM on Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 4.55pm; and Wednesday 2nd at 6.50am) One of the all-time greats and I also score it over the Rathbone/Bruce Hound of the Baskervilles made a few months earlier. 20th Century-Fox had been happy to invest heavily and the production standards were very high. Rathbone and Bruce were also settling nicely into their roles—although I still have concerns about how Watson was portrayed!
George Zucco was an excellent Moriarty: “Holmes…I’m going to break you. I’m going to bring off right under your nose the most incredible crime of the century, and you’ll never suspect it until it’s too late. It’ll be the end of you, Sherlock Holmes.” To his credit, he made Holmes work for his money in this one!
Even though the film did well at the box-office, the company got cold feet and decided that Holmes was too old-fashioned and out-of-place for a world which had gone to war again. Universal Pictures stepped in, picked up the rights, updated Holmes and had him fighting the Third Reich in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror in 1942.
Pursuit to Algiers, 1945 (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415 at 7.50pm) There is actually no mystery and no detection involved. As one critic noted at the time: “Pursuit to Algiers does nothing but keep the Sherlock Holmes franchise for Universal and lessen its value.” There isn’t even a half decent baddie to keep us occupied.
The Newly Discovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (BBC Radio4 Extra on DAB/Sky0131/Virgin910 at 7.00am, 5.30pm and 5.30am)
Episode 4—-Sherlock Holmes and the Glorious Doppelganger (February 2, 1999) The great strength of this Holmes spoof is the cast: Roy Hudd (Holmes), Chris Emmett (Watson), June Whitfield (Mrs Hudson), Geoffrey Whitehead (Moriarty) and Jeffrey Holland (Lestrade). The humour is broad and bawdy, but never goes over the knuckle. Hudd appeared in Granada’s “The Dying Detective” and in an episode of “The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” with Clive Merrison and Andrews Sachs. Emmett played Watson to Bernie Winter’s Holmes in a Sherlock-themed edition of the gameshow 3-2-1. Whitehead played Holmes in a 1979/80 Polish television series with Donald Pickering as Watson.
BBC Radio4 Extra is also available at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4extra
Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky 307/Virgin407 at 9.00pm) See Sunday
The Woman in Green, 1945 (TCM on Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 5.30pm; and Sunday 30th at 9.20am) 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.”
From Hell, 2001 (5* on Freeview30/Virgin151 at 9.00pm) 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 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.
Sherlock (BBCHD on Sky169/Virgin187/Freeview54/Freesat109 at 9.30pm)
Episode 1—A Study in Pink (July 25, 2010) The new series begins in January, so this is a nice little reminder of what we have been missing. This is a Holmes for our times; a Holmes who uses computers and texts in exactly the same way that the 1890s Holmes used reference books and telegrams. He still has the same relationship with Watson and Scotland Yard. The plots—a little over-egged for my tastes—are sourced from the original stories and very cleverly adapted for today’s audience.
Martin Freeman is easily one of the best Watsons ever—maybe even the best. I’m not as sure about Cumberbatch as Holmes, though. He’s good, but he doesn’t look like having the timelessness of a Rathbone or Brett. But the writing, by Steve Moffat and Mark Gatiss, is superb and even though the plotting and twists don’t always stack up in terms of logic this is, nonetheless, very entertaining stuff. I’m looking forward to the three new episodes: “A Scandal In Belgravia,” “The Hounds of Baskerville” and “The Reichenbach Fall.”
Sherlock (BBCHD on Sky169/Virgin187/Freeview54/Freesat109 at 10.30pm
Episode 2—The Blind Banker (August 1, 2010) See Saturday 24th
Sherlock (BBCHD on Sky169/Virgin187/Freeview54/Freesat109 at 9.30pm)
Episode 3—The Great Game (August 8, 2010) See Saturday 24th
Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky 307/Virgin407 at 9.00pm) See Sunday 18th.
Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Christmas on Sky 303/Virgin403 at 10.25pm) See Sunday 18th.
The Newly Discovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (Radio4 Extra on DAB/Sky0131/Virgin910 at 7.00am, 5.30pm and 5.30am)
Episode 5—Holmes Strikes A Happy Medium (February 13, 1999) See Thursday 22nd
From Hell, 2001 (5* on Sky176/Virgin151 at 9.00pm) See Saturday 24th