Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

British Granada Television's adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle works

When I was eleven-twelve years old I went through a Sherlock Holmes craze. For a period I was obsessed with the persona of the well known detective and I read all of the original stories and also a few of the non-canonical writings. I also remember that Swedish television aired the Sherlock Holmes played by Jeremy Brett, and I of course watched as many of them as I had the chance to.

During the past years I have meditated the thoughts of a renaissance with the master. The purchase of a cheap Signet Classics softcover in a book shop at the top of Victoria Peak, with an impressive view over Kowloon and Hong Kong, marked the starting point of just that revitalisation in my literary world. The bridges from Colonial Hong Kong to the eccentric bohemian cleverness in London's Baker Street are plentiful. Even more so, perhaps, in my psyche.

The entire series produced by Granada Television in between 1984 and 1994 consists of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. In the first two seasons David Burke plays Mr Holmes' sidekick Dr Watson, and in the remaining seasons the role is instead equally well manoeuvred by Edward Hardwicke. Altogether forty-one out of the sixty stories were adapted and from what I have gathered more seasons were planned. This was however put to halt when Jeremy Brett died from acute myocardial infarction at the age of 61 in 1995. One's eyes does not have to be thoroughly trained to witness Mr Brett's deteriorating health during the episodes in the final season. The portrait of Sherlock Holmes as it appears in The Memoirs is that one of a much older man.

The adaptation is, in one word, excellent. Jeremy Brett grows into the role better as the seasons pass. One can sense an increasing actor's pride in understanding that he is putting a face on what many has come to consider the definitive screen version of the Detective of all detectives. Such self-confidence is needed when being Sherlock. Much care is put into details, not only in how the superior ego and slightly neurotic protagonist is played, but in all characters and scenery.

Sherlock Holmes has wit and humour, and childlike curiosity. He understands the value of imagination and uses it together with his extremely capable powers of reasoning to solve the darkest of mysteries. It works as good now as when I was a boy.