Friday, 16 December 2011


The world of legendary detective Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett) and Dr. Watson (David Burke), as seen in the classic 1984 series: THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. Images: ITV.

As Robert Downey Jr's playing of Sherlock Holmes returns to movie cinemas with a once more cheerful, brazenly amok quality around Baker Street: guns blazing, punches throwing and fighting crime with the kind of steam punk quirky technology that wouldn't be out of place on CSI, and whilst British thesp' (or "luvvie") Benedict Cumberbatch returns to the BBC in January 2012 to play a more cerebral and instinctive modern-day version of the character for Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's "re-imagining" of the character (a series and lead performance from Cumberbatch apparently much loved by Steven Spielberg- though I think a lot of the compliment is fond lip service to his friend Moffat, who worked with the director on the script for TINTIN), let's not forget at this time of year the greatest and most respectful interpretation yet of the original classic character, so enduringly created by the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and played with relish, charm and gusto by Jeremy Brett for over ten years from 1984: THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, a series beautifully crafted by the dedicated writers and producers of GRANADA TV in the the UK, working closely at the time with the Conan Doyle estate.

A superb and iconic performance from Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes.

An actor known and popular to audiences in both the UK and the US, Brett's enthusiasm for the series and the iconic role could be seen right from the start, and he'd soon prove the perfect choice to play the intriguing and definitely energy consuming part. Alongside him would be another talented character actor, David Burke, who would give the previous bumbling character of Dr. John Watson, often seen in prior films and TV as a bumbling comedy character, a well deserved overhaul, layering the part with credibility in his companion role alongside Holmes and making him both amiable and experienced, as well as possessing a fine and warm sense of humour and a lively enthusiasm for the criminal investigations alongside Holmes, which that the sleuth would be both enjoying and annoyed by in equal measure. Like their book counter-parts, they would be a fine pairing.

Here's KOOL TV's look back at the most popular episodes from those first two seasons...

Holmes with one of his greatest intellectual adversaries, Irene Adler (Gayle Hunnicutt) in A SCANDAL IN BOHEMIA.

A SCANDAL IN BOHEMIA: (Opening episode) Holmes is contacted by a masked man of nobility to save a Royal House from ruin at the hands of an elegant and talented woman, Irene Adler (a memorable performance from Gayle Hunnicutt). Soon enough, Holmes realises just what a formidable and adaptive opponent he has come up against. 

SCANDAL is a sterling first episode that beautifully sets the tone for the series and introduces one of Holmes greatest intellectual and most mysterious of adversaries, whom he would later refer to as "The Woman".

Next in danger? Holmes and Watson confer with Helen Stoner (Rosalind Ayres) in The Speckled Band.

THE SPECKLED BAND: Holmes and Watson travel to an off-beat country estate to investigate the bizarre incident of a young girl who died from within a locked and seemingly impregnable room. From his determinations, the Baker Street detective soon finds himself up against the sadistic and brutal wiles of Dr Grimsby Roylott (an overpowering and impressive performance from Jeremy Kemp), in one of Conan Doyle's best and most memorable tales, brought to life with eerie atmosphere and dread by director John Bruce.

Violet Smith (Barbara Wilshere) is not yet aware of The Solitary Cyclist

THE SOLITARY CYCLIST: Holmes and Watson are called in to investigate the distress of a young cyclist who is being stalked by a mysterious figure on a local road. What follows from the investigation is a creepy and disturbing revelation as to the identity of the "stalker" as well as his menacing plans for the girl.

THE DANCING MEN: The young wife of a Norwich squire is plagued with strange drawings of dancing men. As the illustration markers intensify, driving the girl almost to the brink of emotional damage, Holmes discovers that they are a secret code that must be cracked with all speed if he is to prevent a specially orchestrated murder.

A business relationship turns to terror for Dr. Trevelyan (Nicholas Clay) and Blessington (Patrick Newell) in The Resident Patient.

THE RESIDENT PATIENT: A bright and successful medical student, working under the auspices and enterprise of Mister Blessington (Patrick Newell), soon discovers that his employer is acting both irrationally and showing mysterious concerns and dread by the visitors coming and going from his surgery. As Holmes is brought in to investigate, a tangled web of danger and murder is soon imparted...

A strange case leads to the gravest of dangers for Holmes and Watson in The Red-Headed League.

THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE: Holmes look into a pawnbroker conned into working for a shady business enterprise: The Red-Headed League, turns from a somewhat genial and quirky investigation into a dramatic and dangerous battle of wits against his looming adversary-his opposite in the world of criminal enterprise- Professor Moriarty (as played with brooding menace and pure evil by the superb Eric Porter). A great script from series format developer John Hawkesworth, alongside capable direction from John Bruce, add to the episodes impeccable cast performances.

Holmes and Watson travel to Switzerland in The Final Problem.

THE FINAL PROBLEM: Having survived several assassination attempts in London and Paris, Holmes, joined by Watson, flees to the beautiful mountain scenery of Switzerland as he sets in motion a plan to defeat Moriarty once and for all. But the master of crime has escaped Holmes ingenuity and followed him to his secret hideaway, where the ultimate destiny of a final hand to hand conflict awaits for the pair at the legendary Reichenbach Falls.

The Final End? Sherlock Holmes fights Professor Moriarty (Eric Porter) at the Reichenbach Falls.

THE FINAL PROBLEM, with its almost surreal final sequence showing Holmes and Moriarty hurtling to their deaths over the falls, would bring the second series of THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES to a stunning and satisfying end. Just as Conan Doyle had originally planned this adventure to be the finale tale for Holmes serialised career back in 1893, it was also a period of uncertainty for GRANADA, too, as to whether there would be any more filmed SHERLOCK HOLMES series made, due to the shows high production costs of the time. Fortunately, in both universes, the popular and persuasive power of the readers/audiences ultimately changed Holmes final fate, and a return to crime-fighting for the adventurer was soon on the horizon...

All episodes of the Jeremy Brett SHERLOCK HOLMES series are available on DVD from ITV STUDIOS.

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