on March 29, 2008
In his foreword to Bantam's "Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories," Loren Estleman called the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson literature's warmest, most symbiotic and most timeless: rightfully so. Not surprisingly, film history is littered with adaptations of Conan Doyle's tales and Holmes pastiches (using the protagonists but otherwise independent storylines). Yet - and I'm saying this with particular apologies to the fans of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce canon - none of these prior incarnations can hold a candle to the ITV/Granada TV series produced between 1984 and 1994, starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes and first David Burke, then, beginning with the second ("Return of Sherlock Holmes") cycle and in near-seamless transition, Edward Hardwicke as a refreshingly sturdy, pragmatic, unbumbling Dr. Watson.
Jeremy Brett was the only actor who ever managed to perfectly portray Holmes's imperiousness, bitingly ironic sense of humor and apparently indestructible self-control without at the same time neglecting his genuine friendship towards Dr. Watson and the weaknesses hidden below a surface dominated by his overarching intellectual powers. The series takes the titles of its four cycles of shorter episodes - "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," "The Return of Sherlock Holmes," "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" and "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes" - from four of the five short story collections featuring London's self-appointed only "consulting detective" (published 1892, 1905, 1894 and 1927, respectively); thus nominally omitting the 1917 collection "His Last Bow," which is, however - but for its title story - completely represented in individual episodes spread out over the other four cycles. While the grouping of instalments doesn't necessarily correspond with Conan Doyle's original story collections, and the series's premise - Holmes's and Watson's shared tenancy of rooms at 221B Baker Street - was no longer true even at the beginning of the "Adventures," this excellently produced series is a must-have for any mystery fan. This is particularly true for the first two cycles ("Adventures" and "Return") and the movie-length versions of the novels "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Sign of the Four," which alone makes this set well worth the purchase; even if the movie-length dramatizations of the short stories "The Eligible Bachelor" (a/k/a "The Noble Bachelor") and "The Last Vampyre" (a/k/a "The Sussex Vampyre") are less than faithful to Conan Doyle's originals: in fact, their quality rests almost exclusively on an already ailing Jeremy Brett's shoulders (as well as in "Vampyre" on the extraordinary guest performance of Roy Marsden in the episode's title role), thus emphasizing even more the significance of Brett's achievement.
This set contains (in "volumes" or episodes grouped on discs as originally released):
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
* A Scandal in Bohemia
* The Dancing Men (from "Return")
* The Naval Treaty (from "Memoirs")
* The Solitary Cyclist (from "Return")
* The Crooked Man (from "Memoirs")
* The Speckled Band
* The Blue Carbuncle
* The Copper Beeches
* The Greek Interpreter (from "Memoirs")
* The Norwood Builder (from "Return")
* The Resident Patient (from "Memoirs")
* The Red-Headed League
* The Final Problem (from "Memoirs")
THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
* The Empty House
* The Abbey Grange
* The Second Stain
* The Six Napoleons
* The Priory School
* Wisteria Lodge (from "Last Bow")
* The Devil's Foot (from "Last Bow")
* Silver Blaze (from "Memoirs")
* The Bruce-Partington Plans (from "Last Bow")
* The Musgrave Ritual (from "Memoirs")
* The Man With the Twisted Lip (from "Adventures")
THE CASEBOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
* The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax (from "Last Bow")
* The Problem of Thor Bridge
* The Boscombe Valley Mystery (from "Adventures")
* The Illustrious Client
* Shouscombe Old Place
* The Creeping Man
THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
* The Three Gables (from "Casebook")
* The Dying Detective (from "Last Bow")
* The Golden Pince-Nez (from "Return")
* The Red Circle (from "Last Bow")
* The Mazarin Stone (from "Casebook")
* The Cardboard Box (from "Last Bow")
THE FEATURE FILMS
* The Sign of Four (adaptation of the 1890 novel)
* The Hound of the Baskervilles (adaptation of the 1901 novel)
* The Last Vampyre (adaptation of the short story "The Sussex Vampyre" from "Casebook")
* The Eligible Bachelor (adaptation of the short story "The Noble Bachelor" from "Adventures")
* The Master Blackmailer (adaptation of the short story "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" from "Memoirs")
For completion's sake, this leaves only the first and last Holmes novels ("A Study In Scarlet," 1887, and "The Valley of Fear," 1915) as well as the following short stories unrepresented in this series:
From THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES:
* A Case of Identity
* The Five Orange Pips
* The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb
* The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet
From THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES:
* The Adventure of Black Peter
* The Adventure of the Three Students
* The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter
From THE CASEBOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES:
* The Blanched Soldier
* The Lion's Mane
* The Veiled Lodger
* The Retired Colourman
FROM THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES:
* The Yellow Face
* The Stock-broker's Clerk
* The "Gloria Scott"
* The Reigate Puzzle
From HIS LAST BOW:
* His Last Bow
The Complete Sherlock Holmes: All 4 Novels and 56 Short Stories
Sherlock Holmes: A Baker Street Dozen
Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street
Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett As Sherlock Holmes
Dr. Bell and Mr. Doyle - The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes
Murder Rooms - The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes
The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Conan Doyle, Detective: The True Crimes Investigated by the Creator of Sherlock Holmes
Arthur and George
on August 24, 2007
This review has been updated on Sept. 18. I received my Sherlock Holmes set from MPI today and as I hoped, it looks and sounds FANTASTIC! I already have watched a lot from the set. You won't be disappointed! I have been sending e-mails for a few years now to MPI Home Video, asking that they remaster this series and make it available on DVD. I am so glad they finally have. Two episodes in their original release of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," notably "The Dancing Men" and "The Naval Treaty," had audio problems in some of the soundtrack music. They have remastered this series from the original Granada tapes in England. This resulted in an awesome picture and sound quality. Thank you MPI! What more can be said about Jeremy Brett? Many people, including myself, consider him to be the definitive Sherlock Holmes. His manner, gestures and overall portrayal shows us clearly that he read Conan Doyle and became very well acquainted with his alter ego. The stories are great and this series had that fortunate combination of great acting, writing, music, and production value. How nice to be able to own the entire series in one set. For twelve discs, including bonuses, the price is fair. If you like this series or simply enjoy Jeremy Brett, you should purchase this set.
on September 29, 2007
To a great number of Sherlockians--or Holmesians, if you prefer--Jeremy Brett's performance as the world's first consulting detective was the definitive portrayal. And while this series has its flaws and deviations from the original text, it is still arguably the best filmic representation available.
I have seen the original MPI releases, as well as a Japanese/Chinese collection, and without question, this new set features the best picture and sound quality. (Perhaps the PAL version released a couple years earlier in the UK is slightly superior, but I doubt anyone could really see the difference.) The uniform menu screens and the sharp design of the packaging are also an improvement upon previous releases.
My complaints are few and rather inconsequential, but they are as follows:
1) There are no additional special features, but in fact *fewer* special features than the original DVD releases.
2) The pictures on the faces of the DVDs were chosen somewhat haphazardly, e.g. Hardwicke is featured on Disc 1 where surely Burke belongs. And
3) as to the series itself, during the second half of its run, more and more stories were merely "based" on Conan Doyle's work, and with questionable results. "The Last Vampyre" is a prime example.
In short, if you already own the original DVD releases and you are satisfied with that picture quality, you may want to pass on purchasing this set. For all other admirers of the series, this is a must have.
It's a tale of contrasts of two fine actors, Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett. Brett joked that, as an actor, he was rarely allowed into the 20th century and never into the present day. In many ways he was a throw back to an earlier era; in personality amongst other traits. He was also one to suffer from manic depression. In addition, Brett had a speech impediment as a child for which he had to have surgery and subsequently had to seriously work on his diction and enunciation (that's why, no doubt, thanks to his dedication in this regard, his command of each was something others eventually envied him for).
By contrast, Basil Rathbone was a fencing swashbuckler, athletic and dashing; a talented actor who loved the stage. Rathbone made a fine Holmes in my opinion and most of his 14 films as this famed sleuth are most enjoyable. But when reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, one's mind, I'd say, surely conjured up a far more complicated man than that played by Mr. Rathbone. Mr. Brett brought much of that man to life, I'd argue, and, at least in part, some of that was no doubt helped along by Mr. Brett's own experiences as a talented, but troubled, individual. After all, geniuses do not seem to be cut from the same cloth as most folk; in the sense that abnormality, in some measure, seems to make extraordinary talent a bit more possible. Sherlock Holmes was such a extraordinary character. That's what makes Mr. Brett's performances herein so interesting. Jeremy Brett most certainly brings to the fore the depth of a true Sherlock Holmes type character and makes Mr. Holmes a lot more real. After watching any of these fine episodes you too ought be inclined to be happy that Mr. Brett's audition to replace Sean Connery as James Bond was less than successful, allowing Mr. Brett to eventually find the role measurably more suitable for him and one in which he thoroughly excelled.
on September 23, 2007
I bought all five former box sets a year ago, and have watched them multiple times, but I would always watch some episodes feeling cheated. The Adventures, and The Return box set (roughly the first 24 episodes, and two full films) were in bad shape: it looked like they were transferred to DVD from an old VHS someone had in their basement, and it sounded like it too. The picture was grainy, and on some episodes the audio warbled.
This box set is what I was waiting for: I got in the mail from MPI yesterday, and have checked out some of the worse looking episodes from the old set...and they look marvelous. MPI transferred all of the episodes from the original negative, and cleaned up the menus: every single episode and film, cleaned up, and on 12 discs, and in two, high quality cases with a wonderful, heavy duty, cardboard slipcase. It even comes with a booklet which has information about every episode: an summary of the story, plus behind the scenes information about the making of. This is the box set I wanted to buy a year ago, and this is the set MPI should have released in the first place. But better late than never. Fantastic: anyone who is a fan should buy it, and anyone who has the first five box sets should sell them, and buy this. It is, truly, the Complete Granada Series.
on October 25, 2007
What can I say here? The quality of these dvds are excellent, but the material on them is even better. For those of you who loved Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, this is a must have. It's only unfortunate that all other Holmes films may be ruined for you once you see Brett in action. He's the perfect Holmes-- his performance is truly unrivaled.
Besides Jeremy Brett's Holmes, both Watsons are also wonderful to watch. I got used to Edward Hardwicke's performance of Watson first. However, now I prefer David Burke's more serious take on the role. Either way, both of them play Watson with none of the pomposity or silliness that you may have seen in their predecessors.
If you are a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, rather than just the films, these cannot be beat. Although many prefer Basil Rathbone to Jeremy Brett, only 2 of the Rathbone stories are taken from the Doyle canon. The other films are WWII stories with the Greatest Detective breaking up Nazi spyrings and mobilizing the citizens of England during their greatest fight (well, greatest fight next to the current one going on against Muslim terrorists who are now a fifth column in the UK-- but that's another matter entirely-- maybe we need to see some new Holmes films breaking up terror cells. Oh, but I digress!) And, regardless of your feelings about the Rathbone films, he should be credited with raising Holmes' popularity during this era.
In contrast, all of the stories here are taken directly from the Doyle stories. As a matter of fact, when Strand magazine serialized the Holmes' stories, they were accompanied by wonderful illustrations. In every episode of this series, the actors briefly pose and re-enact each illustration! If you're a fan, this is a real treat to see. Actually, everything on these dvds is a real treat to see. The direction is perfect, the sets are luscious, and the costumes are beautiful.
Anyways, the four films included in this set are phenomenal. I am not crazy about the Hound of the Baskervilles story, and that one is my least favorite on the set, but it's still a great story. All of the hour-long episodes are lots of fun to watch. Every time I watch one of these episodes I immediately feel like I am getting a big treat and I immediately mourn the fact that there will never be any more. Brett's death was untimely and came all too soon.
on December 20, 2007
Please ignore the reviewer who is questioning the accuracy of the transfers based on different technical specifications in the UK. I've watched about half the DVDs in this box and I can tell you without question that they are excellent -- the best looking and sounding edition of these shows yet.
Unlike past editions, these DVDs have been mastered using the original negatives from the Granada TV archives and the result is superb. There is absolutely no problem with speed -- physical movements are natural and jiggle-free and dialogue is clear and natural, neither too fast nor too slow. Color, contrast and blacks are excellent. (If that's not the case for you, I suggest a thorough diagnostic of your playback system.)
So much for the technical and on to the real beauty of this series. Jeremy Brett is the quintessential Sherlock Holmes. He brings a sharp, elegant, nuanced performance to the character that is endlessly fascinating. Dr. Watson (played by David Burke early on and later by Edward Hardwicke) is portrayed not inaccurately as a bumbler (as in the Hollywood films), but as a thoughtful, capable companion and assistant to Holmes -- the way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle portrayed the character in his stories. Add beautiful writing and direction, a consistent, outstanding cast of supporting players and Granada's never-flinching excellent production values, and this series stands as one of the greatest ever produced for television. Each show is like a mini motion picture.
Do not hesitate to buy this box set -- you won't be disappointed!
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series is a wonderful video presentation of a body of work that is sublime in it's entirety. Everything about this series is luxuriously drenched in quality. The acting, writing, direction, photography , sets and costumes along with top notch musical scoring makes this series a must have for fans of Sherlock Holmes and of British mysteries in general.
Much has been written in these reviews about the quality of performance by the great Jeremy Brett and his two Watson's , David Burke and Edward Hardwicke. Their performances are ,without a doubt, impeccable. Without fail each episode features supporting casts of truly fine actors and their performances constantly ring true , episode by episode.
The packaging for the most part is very nice indeed. The outer and inner hard boxes seem built to last. The discs sit firmly in their spindles within two inner fold out boxes, but are easily removed unlike the Poirot collection from Acorn video. The art work on the discs do not completely match up with the episodes, although the titles do. My only real complaint about the packaging are the inner fold out boxes themselves, knowing they will in time wear out and split after folding and unfolding over the years. All in all, a very good looking box.
The video quality of the transfers help to make this the 'Crown Jewel' of my DVD collection. (Blu Ray and HD DVD notwithstanding) As advertised, these programs have been taken directly from the original negatives and it shows. Having seen this series many times on both PBS and then A&E I have personally never seen it look this good. These are standard definition DVD's of course and they have their limitations, but considering the films were made starting back in the earlier 80's I was extremely pleased to see for myself just how good a nice solid clean transfer can look. They are a feast for the eyes and make watching this program so much more enjoyable than a semi blurry repeat from A&E.
I own perhaps 20 television series on DVD and this one gets my highest marks in each category by which quality can be measured. If you have read this far, you probably already know you want it. By all means, take the plunge and immerse yourself in some quality television that can be enjoyed many times over.
on July 23, 2009
My father used to say "a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing" and I'm sure that's the case with the review by Steven, who shows what he doesn't know about PAL and NTSC. NTSC is 30 frames a second, not 24. PAL (UK/Europe video) is 25 frames a second. But, my dear Steven, these Sherlock Holmes episodes were shot on 35mm FILM, which sports a 24 frames per second frame rate. They were NOT shot on video, which you were trying to say in your rather uninformed review. This DVD set was remastered from the original FILM NEGATIVES. So both PAL and NTSC frame rates have to be bumped up from the 35mm frame rate, this is done in the mastering process. In addition to the US version of this set, I also own the PAL version (I have a PAL DVD player also) and the two are made from the same negatives, and look virtually identical. But the US set has more commentary and extra features. Anyone that owned any earlier versions of the MPI Video US releases of this TV show will see a dramatic difference here...this set is more than worth the money as it is of the highest quality. The color, contrast and sharpness is wonderful...you won't see them look any better than this, until (and if) they're remastered again for Blu-ray in high definition.
on January 3, 2008
Fantastic. There is simply no better actor that could/did bring Holmes to life the way Brett did - in fact, you would be hard pressed to find an actor who defines a character with such effectiveness that you cannot think of the character and not think of him. To me, Holmes is Brett, Brett is Holmes - this series inspired me to buy Doyle's canon and on every page, I can visualize Brett...
Buy this for Jeremy Brett's incredible acting talent, if nothing else (though there is a LOT more). The box set is sturdy, the DVD's seem to run perfectly fine (I am only on disc 7 of 12 though) and the little booklet detailing each episode and the differences from the original story is written in a refreshingly honest and passionate style. And finally, a word of advise to the frugal shopper: the DVD set can be had for much cheaper if you look around. Either way, this is one box set you will be richer for owning.