115 of 119 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2009
"The Sherlock Holmes Collection" contains the only six surviving episodes of the BBC's 1968 TV series "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes". The great Peter Cushing stars as Holmes and Nigel Stock plays Dr. Watson. The six episodes feature five stories:
The Hound of the Baskervilles (a two-part episode)
The Sign of the Four
The Blue Carbuncle
A Study in Scarlet
The Boscombe Valley Mystery
The main reason to get this set is Peter Cushing. It's great to see him playing one of his favorite characters at the prime of his career. Cushing had already played Holmes in Hammer Films' THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES in 1959. Cushing's TV Holmes is a bit calmer
than his Hammer Holmes. The mannerisms and behaviour of the literary Holmes are still present, though.
Unfortunately the episodes themselves do not live up to the star of the series. It's obvious the BBC did not spend the money necessary to bring Doyle's stories to life properly. Most of the scenes in the episodes are indoors and filled with dialogue. It's sometimes like watching a play. The action and atmosphere of Doyle seem to be avoided due to budgetary reasons. A prime example is The Sign of Four. This is one of Doyle's best works, but here it is condensed down to a Cliff Notes version. The Sign of Four should have been a two-parter as well.
Nigel Stock does a decent job as Watson, but the supporting players in the episodes tend to overact badly. In later interveiws, Peter Cushing would express his disappointment with how the series turned out. The BBC made a total of sixteen episodes, but only these six survive, because in those days the BBC would erase or re-use their tapes!
Overall, the picture and sound quality are fine (the episodes are in color). Even though these are not the best presentations of Doyle's detective, this series is a must for Peter Cushing fans and for Sherlock Holmes lovers.
54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2009
Well done, atmospheric Holmes adventures with Peter Cushing and Nigel Stock. I'm sorry the rest of this 60's series is lost, since I believe I read that Cushing actually did about 16 episodes for the series. The loss is ours, but it makes having this small collection of the survivors that more precious. If you are a Hammer Film fan then you are pretty sure of what you're getting with Cushing's performance as the master slueth. I enjoyed his big screen turn as Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, but the performance at times seemed a bit too energetic, almost too frenetic at times, as though Cushing were trying hard to point out how unusual Holmes was. In these later years portrayals, Cushing's Holmes seems to move with a slow intellectual grace that is more befitting the Detective. Nigel Stock is also a recognizable face from Hammer, and other British productions. He plays Watson very well here, using the right combination of patience and awe at Holmes' quirks and genious insites.
Picture quality is very good, and sound is likewise better than expected, with five tales told in Victorian times, and with enough suspense and humor to please any Holmes fan.
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2009
The series is worth watching for the Holmes of Peter Cushing, as well as Nigel Stock's take on Watson. The guests are unfamiliar aside from Gary Raymond and Frank Middlemass. The main flaws are the slow pace and low budget sets, as well as color, which never seems suited to the Victorian settings.
The biggest surprise here is a complete verison of "A Study in Scarlet", which one book claimed only had a few scenes that still existed. The changes in the story were minor, a minus being in not keeping the first meeting of Holmes and Watson, a big plus being the deletion of the dull flashback from the book.
"The Hound of the Baskervilles" is a bit disappointing, it suffers from the two part telling and, being fairly faithful to the novel, has far too little Holmes. Two other flaws, a cave floor creaks badly and the story ends abruptly.
"The Boscombe Valley Mystery" wasn't one of Doyle's best and is probably the weakest in the collection here, due in part to the poor supporting cast.
"The Sign of Four" stuck fairly close to the novel, except for the end. Only the Arthur Wontner verison actually had the nerve to allow watson to marry.
"The Blue Carbuncle" has the most padding to fill the time, but does feature a good scene where Watson gets a laugh at Holmes' expense after a faulty deduction.
Those who think Cushing was too short to play Holmes should reread "The Three Students" and "The Abbey Grange", where Holmes gives himself gives his height at six feet, the same as Cushing. (Arthur Wontner was an inch shorter by the way.)
Even with the flaws this is easily the best television Holmes collection out there and is second only to the better Rathbone films.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2010
I have all the Jeremy Brett versions of Sherlock Holmes on DVD but after seeing the 1959 film THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES with Peter Cushing wanted this set to see more of Cushing's portrayal of Holmes. Most viewers will not be disappointed with the Holmes portrayed by Peter Cushing. His acting is superb adding a bit of dash and difference to the Holmes stories.
One should take note, however, that THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES of this BBC TV set IS NOT the one of the 1959 movie also starring Christopher Lee. All features within this 3 disc set are from BBC TV. While interesting to see they can be a bit ragged in places and some of the sets leave a bit also to be wished for.
Overall if one enjoys Holmes and the Holmes' stories there cannot be any disappointment in these discs. It's unfortunate that only these handful of stories survive from those years.
Though I yet prefer the Jeremy Brett series as being more professionally done, these discs are good and enjoyable to watch. Unfair perhaps, but forty-plus years of improvement in film does make a difference. But Peter Cushing has left us with a capital performance where Sherlock Holmes is concerned, while the role of Dr. Watson is more than ably performed as well.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2011
Just a note to clear up some points technically speaking for all of you, since there is so much anguish about the series by the viewers.
This is from an old 1960s BBC TV series, shot the same way and with the same budget as Dr. Who and everything else done by them, these are NOT 'movies'. This means, they were by necessity shot in the studio, on stage, with TV cameras like an American Soap Opera is done to this day. They were recorded therefore, on one inch video tape and switched live, which is done to save tons of money on editing, and uses really good, professional, stage actors who can learn the entire script in one go, and just do it. When exteriors and locations are required they use a film camera, probably 16 mm, to film those scenes, again, like on Dr. Who and everything else the BBC TV networks need to do. If it were not for this technique you would not have had any of this sort of television in England at all. They could NOT afford to film all there TV series like we have always done here in commercial America. The British taxpayers and the TV set licensing system they use actually pays for the main costs of production. See what I mean? So don't compare these types of shows with full budget feature motion pictures, or even American commercial TV series, which are shot on 35mm film and edited for air. This is theatre in the true sense.
I encourage you to get this series because they have added a bonus feature which is VERY expensive to buy on its own direct from A&E Biography, the 1995 documentary on Holmes produced on the death of Jeremy Brett that year. It is really good, and we show it at our annual Holmes Society meeting each January 6th, Holmes' birthday. A&E charges upwards of $30 for this doc (if you can find it); it's about 16 years old now.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2009
If you love Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, then you should see Peter Cushing's version of the great detective. The Hammer color version of The Hound of the Baskervilles with Peter Cushing is a well-known classic; less well known in the USA is Cushing's BBC Holmes. Cushing's 1968 BBC TV version has the same restless. twitchy manner and mental energy as Brett. Cushing is even more gaunt then the early Brett, though Cushing is not quite tall enough to be an ideal Homes. The Hammer influence is everywhere from the screenplays to the atmospheric elements, yet it never overpowers the sherlockian tradition.
I also like Douglas Wilmer's BBC TV Holmes and I hope that series will also soon be available in the USA. Cushing and Wilmer offer distinctly different yet satisfying versions of Holmes that provide a bridge between the 1930-45 Wontner and Rathbone versions and the Jeremy Brett portrayal. Personally. I think Brett is best, but they each highlight different aspects Holmes' rich character.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2010
Let me start by saying that the episodes are all wonderful...the acting is superb and Peter Cushing shines like the star he was...I could tell you all about the different elements of mystery and drama on these discs but you already know that if you know who Peter Cushing is..if you do not then buy this collection from Amazon..it is worth every penny..I am a Peter Cushing fan and have watched probably every movie he has graced with his presence..he is at his best here as Sherlock Holmes.If you want to see more movies with Peter Cushing in them check out Hammer Films...he's in quite a few of them...
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2011
I have to say that this collection of Sherlock Holmes episodes from the BBC series is an amazing & wonderful find!
Because many of the indoor scenes were shot live, you get the incredible feeling of watching a play! With Peter Cushing (incredible) and the other fine actors, it is a real treat that is so unique!! (especially compared to so many of the boring movies of today which rely on special effects and loud noises & explosions to grab your attention).
This is true acting where the scenes are long and everyone must know their lines thru & thru & they must know their places!! A dying art in film these days! You would have to go to a play to get this type of acting!
I have an absolutely new level of respect for Peter Cushing!!!! His brilliant, steady, confident, agile & energetic Holmes could teach all the Holmes actors of today (Robert Downey Jr) a thing or two!
I really only have one disappointment in this DVD.....That there are only 5 episodes in the collection and not 50!!!!!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2010
This is the closest you'll ever get to see the late Peter Cushing in a "stage play." Watching him portray Sherlock Holmes is watching him become the character. No matter how many of his movies you have seen (and I've seen many, many of them), you must see him in these Sherlock Holmes stories.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2010
I got this little series with a gift card and was anxious to see it. It's quite good. It was made in the sixties (you can tell by the hairstyles) and it was well made in the BBC fashion with exterior shots filmed and the interior ones taped. The first one is a two parter of "The Hound of the Baskervilles". It is a good adaptation of the novel and worthy to stand up against adaptation of the Holmes' novel. The only downside to this collection is it's limitation to only five shows.
However, it is worthy of a look see.