Sunday, 16 December 2012


Holmes (Rupert Everett) and Watson (Ian Hart) tread the mean streets of early 20th Century London in SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE SILK STOCKING. Images: BBC.

A sexually sadistic serial killer with a taste for strangling young female victims with expensive silk stockings is lurking within the fog stricken streets of well-to-do Belgravia society, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary crime fighting hero with the most incredible deductive prowess, Sherlock Holmes, is reunited with his old and ever loyal friend Doctor John Watson, penetrating the cloud of fear and it’s blood streaked cobbled streets to investigate and bring to justice the cruelly vicious and diabolically killer at large, in the BBC’s ambitious and lavish-looking original feature-length production from 2004: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE SILK STOCKING.

Bearing a sullen and laconic face, brimming with broody intent, and groomed to the best GQ male model standards in his Victorian England garb, with not a deerstalker or pipe in sight, popular actor/writer Rupert Everett may at first have been considered an unusual and unexpected choice for the part (the actor himself had turned down the BBC’s previous offer in playing the immortal character during an ultimately unsuccessful re-telling of the classic Hound of the Baskervilles-the main role of Holmes then played by Australian actor Richard Roxburgh), and he’s certainly not quite the commanding and dominant figure we were used to seeing as personified by the beloved Jeremy Brett, but Everett’s sometimes coldly clinical but no less determined spirit soon proves a worthy addition to the roster of actors to have inhabited the role over the years, and makes his sadly one-off story portrayal uniquely his own. First seen as a miserable and lonely figure smoking opium in some squalid den of vice, in order to ease his boredom and lack of criminal enterprise to fight and satiate through his mental agility (a common problem for the character in his entire literary and filmic life), Holmes downright egocentric, elitist posture and nature, both in real life as an actor/person and heightened in this particular interpretation of the Baker Street legend, make him a natural inside the story’s overall setting: the London elite of the early twentieth century, with the detective’s intuition and mental prowess soon back in action against a truly despicable foe.

Ian Hart as the sterling, slightly sneery and troubled brow Watson retains the dignity and bravery that Edward Hardwicke brought to the role for so many years on ITV, and works well opposite Everett’s Holmes. Here, Watson is an older, slightly wiser character, about to become happily married to the love of his life, American psychologist Mrs. Vandeleur, played by Helen McCrory, who equally impresses Holmes with her abilities and talented professional interests in the kind of sexual deviancy that the killer has been showing towards his victims.
Rupert Everett brings a darker and even more isolationist bearing to Holmes.

Alan Cubitt’s script develops the kind of dark side of London and building sexual overtones beyond anything Conan Doyle did in the books, but also generally keeps to the creator’s writing spirit, whilst director Simon Cellan Jones brings flair and atmosphere, and selects a strong supporting cast including film star-to-be Michael Fassbender and MIDSOMER MURDER”s Neil Dudgeon as Homes faithful id not always fully competent policing comrade, Lestrade.

There are attempts to freshen up and re-imagine certain aspects of the Sherlock Holmes legend, too- his aforementioned use of drugs is once more importantly shown- most of which work in the story’s favour. Holmes even seems to play the violin a little better these days!

More enjoyed at the time internationally than in the home grown UK, SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE SILK STOCKING, indeed a UK/US co-production, may not be a major footnote in the TV career of the super sleuth, but its certainly an enjoyable and interesting one well worth catching if you’ve never seen it before...

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE SILK STOCKING is available on BBC DVD. It can also be seen on the UK"s VIRGIN MEDIA ON-DEMAND service.

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