Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, October 8, 2000

You have something more interesting, I fancy. You are the stormy patron of crime, Watson!

Special features

Cast Information3
Photo Gallery3

The first four episodes from “Granada”, starring Jeremy Brett and David Burke. These were brilliant, the only good adaptations of the Holmes stories I’ve ever seen. Includes “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Dancing Men” on one side, and “The Naval Treaty” and “The Solitary Cyclist” on the other side.

RecommendationPurchase Now!
DirectorsPaul Annett, David Carson
Movie Rating8
Transfer Quality5
Overall Rating7
  • Television Format

This is a nice no-nonsense DVD. It could have had more or better extras. The ‘cast information’ includes only Jeremy Brett, not even anything on David Burke, which I wanted because halfway through the first episode I suddenly had the impression that Burke was also Bilbo in “The Hobbit”. (It was probably just the accent, Bilbo was Orson Bean.)

The stories are from varied periods in the Holmes saga. “A Scandal in Bohemia” is the very first Holmes story from “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”. “The Naval Treaty” is from “The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes”, written “by Watson” after the Holmes’ supposed death at Reichenbach Falls. And “The Dancing Men” and “The Solitary Cyclist” come right after each other in “The Return of Sherlock Holmes”.

Of all television shows that I might purchase, I can think of none which I would as eagerly purchase every single episode as the Granada Sherlock Holmes series. Jeremy Brett was masterful as the eccentric and brilliant Holmes. David Burke (and later Edward Hardwicke) made for fine Watsons. The scripts were true to Arthur Conan Doyle’s originals, often even using the same dialogue. The set design was superb, recreating late eighteenth century London down to the man whose job it was to light the gaslamps. (What did he feel about the coming of electricity?)

In “A Scandal in Bohemia”, Bohemian royalty requires Holmes assistance to thwart the machinations of the scorned Irena Adler, American contralto and famous adventuress. This is perhaps the largest departure from formula as there is very little mystery involved in this tale. It is mostly a spy story.

In “The Dancing Men”, strange drawings of stick figures are driving a man’s young wife crazy with fear. What do they mean? They have something to do with the woman’s secret past, and an unopened letter from Chicago.

“The Naval Treaty” is probably the most mysterious of the deductive cases. An important secret treaty is stolen. There are two mysteries: who stole the treaty when it was in a place where no one but two people knew where it was? And why has the treaty not been made public after ten weeks? What other reason could the thief have for stealing the treaty if not to make it public or to sell it to someone who wants to make it public?

Where “The Dancing Men” invoked the mystery of America, “The Solitary Cyclist” invokes mysteries of Africa. A young musician’s father has recently died, she has taken a job teaching music to a widower’s daughter, and she is being followed by a strange old man on a bicycle. And she has had three offers of marriage. “The Solitary Cyclist” has Holmes at his most harsh towards Watson, although he is harsher in the television script than he was in Doyle’s story. In the script, he berates Watson for not being as observant as he should have been. In Doyle’s story, he later realizes that Watson had observed an important piece of information, and even related it to Holmes, but Holmes hadn’t picked up on it. Here, also, we get to see Holmes in a fist-fight.

There aren’t much of any extras on this DVD. The television advertisements are here, and there’s a photo gallery of stills from the shows, and a tiny, tiny amount of cast information. Only Jeremy Brett’s filmography is listed, no one else’s, as I said earlier. It was disappointing, this series deserves better.

The episodes are each about fifty minutes long, so there’s a total of about 100 minutes per side. That’s a bit longer than a good-sized movie. The longest movie I’ve got so far is about 180 minutes, three hours. Two hundred minutes is some good viewing time.

If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you’ll want to watch these. If you read the books over and over, you’ll want to watch these shows over and over. Buy the DVD! But definitely watch them. These are worth the purchase based on the feature alone.

Recommendation: Purchase Now!

DirectorsPaul Annett, David Carson
Spoken languageEnglish
SubtitlesEnglish, French, Spanish
Special FeaturesCast Information, Photo Gallery, Trailer
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