Seasonal Viewing & Listening Guide
“A few trifling points might perhaps be added”
Glancing over the “festive fortnight” listings, those of us yearning for a plentiful serving of “oven ready” Holmesian treats and who are strictly confined to Freeview will find relatively slim pickings to choose from. For those of you who have access to TCM Movies it’s a far more pleasing picture – a short season of Rathbone and Bruce films gets underway this Saturday afternoon.
As for radio listeners, a deafening silence awaits; there’s absolutely nothing to be heard on the BBC.
(Sky 315 Virgin 415 Virgin HD 416 BT 512)
Alex Kane says The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), this Saturday 21st December at 1.30pm, “is a classic example of how good the ‘golden era’ of Hollywood really was. 20th Century-Fox threw money at this production and it shows in every single department, particularly the moor—which was 300 feet long and 200 feet across. Basil Rathbone was damn near perfect as Holmes and Nigel Bruce hadn’t yet become the stumbling, bumbling caricature he was to become when Universal took over the series a few years later.”
If you’re up for it, on Monday 23rd TCM is offering a 9-hour Sherlock Holmes special with no less than 6 titles from the Universal series to choose from. It starts with Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon at 12 noon, followed by Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1.30), Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (3.00), Sherlock Holmes in Washington (4.35), The Pearl of Death (6.10), and finishes with The House of Fear at 7.45pm.
Hammer’s 1959 production of The Hound of the Baskervilles was the first of two Hound films starring Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes. Does this one tick the box for you or is your preference the 1968 BBC version? The 1959 Hound can be seen on Christmas Eve (24th) at 6.10pm (repeated on Monday 30th at 1.30pm).
Returning to Rathbone and Bruce, there’s a repeat of The Pearl of Death on Friday 26th at 1.40am. Sherlock Holmes Faces Death is also being repeated, on Saturday (27th) at 3.10pm and also on Sunday 29th at 5.00pm.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) is scheduled for 10.45pm on Friday 3rd January. Ian Nathan, reviewing it in Empire (at the time of release), said it was “a sequel confident in what it’s about – bigger, better, funnier, without stretching the joke.” The third instalment in the franchise is not due in cinemas until Christmas 2021.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is being shown on Thursday 2nd January at 2.35pm. The following day (3rd) there are further episodes, at 8.00am and 2.30pm. No details are to hand but there’s little doubt that these adventures are from the 1984 Granada series so many of us adore, starring the incomparable Jeremy Brett as Holmes with David Burke as his Watson.
Finding Neverland (2004) is not about Sherlock Holmes; it’s included here because Conan Doyle has a part in it (a relatively small one). This enjoyable biopic is showing on Sunday 22nd at 3.40pm. Conan Doyle is played by Ian Hart, who some of you will remember as Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles (2002) and also in Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004), both first shown on BBC1 (perhaps the least said the better about those two productions).
As an alternative or additional to the above, you could leave home and go to the cinema to see Knives Out (2019). Described by Mark Kermode in The Observer (1st December) as a “homage to Agatha Christie” and “a deliciously entertaining whodunit”, the film also delivers some nice nods to our own world.
Unlike Sherlock, we can’t be everywhere, which helps explain why this handy guide is confined to the UK and Ireland. Have we missed anything?