THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Starring: Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke
Format: DVD - 3 disk set (6 one-hour episodes plus bonus material).
Reviewed by Cherie Jung
The first consideration is the quality of this collection, viewing wise. Even the weaker stories (and for my mind, there are several weak stories in this collection) look spectacular. The quality of the previous collections is blurry and grainy compared to the sharp crispness of the DVD versions in both "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes" and "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes." If only the other collections looked this good, or could be re-mastered somehow to get this quality. The colors are vibrant. You can see details missed in viewing the VHS or TV versions. I am especially amazed at how much of the darkness is dispelled in "The Red Circle." Before, the night time settings were so dark as to almost leave the exterior scenes unviewable. It's like watching the story for the first time. You can see all kinds of details that you may have overlooked before when watching a tape or television version. As in "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes," the original negative was used to develop the DVD version of "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes." The difference in quality can easily be seen and appreciated.
Treat yourself to this newest DVD version. It is worth every penny! (Prices range from $30 - $40 depending upon where you make your purchase.)
Disk one includes "The Three Gables" and "The Dying Detective." While not one of the stronger stories, I enjoy "The Three Gables" as Holmes and Watson try to again, stop someone from marrying dangerously. In this case, however, the intended marriage partner may not have dirtied her own hands in murder but she condoned it, and in fact, ordered the brutal beating. It is up to Holmes and Watson to sort out a tangle of clues as they try to solve both a mystery and protect an old woman from the murderess and her henchmen.
In "The Dying Detective" Holmes matches wits with a scheming amateur scientist who holds a deadly key...or make that a deadly virus. Brett's ill health at the time of the filming adds a haunting reality to the tale of addiction, poison and delirium.
Disk two has one outstanding story, "The Red Circle" and one weak story, "The Golden Pince-Nez." My basic problem with "The Golden Pince-Nez" is that Dr. Watson is not involved in any way. Holmes takes his brother Mycroft along on the case. I thoroughly enjoyed Mycroft in "The Greek Interpreter" and in "The Bruce Partington Plan" (from earlier collections) but he is out of place in "The Golden Pince-Nez." He just doesn't fit. It would have been better had Holmes left him behind in London.
Meanwhile, "The Red Circle" involves a young married couple trying to escape the clutches of a murderer who is a member of The Red Circle, a brotherhood much like the Mafia. Terror, extortion and murder are their calling cards. Holmes and Watson investigate a mysterious lodger and try to make up for a deadly blunder Watson made in his eagerness to help Holmes solve the mystery.
Disk three also has one strong story and one weak one. "The Mazarin Stone" finds Mycroft teaming up with Dr. Watson. Holmes is mostly absent, except for some dream-like sequences. For me, Mycroft doesn't fit here either. I would rather have seen Dr. Watson solve the case by himself. On the other hand, "The Cardboard Box" is a riveting and macabre tale of adultery, tangled love, and jealousy. Set at Christmas, a grisly "gift" (two severed human ears) launch Holmes and Watson on a case that is probably one of the darkest in the entire collection of stories.
There is some bonus material included in this collection. Screenwriter Jeremy Paul and Holmes expert David Stuart Davies provide commentary. Adrian Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's son, is interviewed and gives a tour of the Sherlock Holmes museum.
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