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Customer Review

102 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for any mystery lover's collection, March 16, 2004
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This review is from: Dr. Bell and Mr. Doyle - The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes (DVD)
American viewers may not realize that this offering is but the first in a series (the only one available in NTSC format so far, the rest being in PAL) called the "Murder Rooms" series. Subsequent titles include "The Photographer's Chair", "The White Knight Stratagem", "The Kingdom of Bones", "The Patient's Eyes", and perhaps more (?), starring the inimitable Ian Richardson. For those who like David Suchet's Poirot series, and Jeremy Brett's Holmes series, this series is absolutely stunning and mandatory!! Any good DVD mystery library is severely deficient without these episodes! This reviewer has finally thrown in the towel and purchased complete PAL-compatible equipment since there are so many such riches in the British PAL/DVD world that are simply unattainable in the USA. This matter could be the subject of a truly wild rant by this reviewer, the NTSC available-title crap-factor index being so high while so much other great material on both sides of the pond goes begging!
This episode deals with the young Arthur Conan Doyle (Robin Laing) as a medical student, who must perforce, with considerable trepidation, take a mandatory course from a certain Dr. Joseph Bell (Ian Richardson). It seems Dr. Bell has a notorious reputation amongst the medical students as a quite idiosyncratic, difficult and perhaps too challenging tutor and instructor. In this opening sequence, several of Dr. Bell's students are mystified by what they perceive as his strange nocturnal disappearances. One of them, the young Doyle and protagonist of this episode, surreptitiously follows Bell one night on such an errand. The result is that Bell catches the young Doyle in the act and subsequently "drafts" him as his "clerk" into these night-time escapades. It seems the good doctor, as a master of logic, deduction and diagnosis, is trying to unravel various crimes for the Crown which he feels are getting short shrift by those charged to investigate such matters. This story follows the unraveling of several inter-related murders by an apparent serial murderer.
The real-life Dr. Joseph Bell is alleged as the historical personage on whom Sir Arthur Conan Doyle modeled his Sherlock Holmes character, with the young Doyle himself being the archetypal Watson. Ian Richardson is truly superb as the good doctor, a pioneer forensic pathologist who took up crime investigation and related matters in his free time when he wasn't busy teaching during the day. This episode, set in 1878 Edinburgh, is extremely rich in Victorian period lore, full of subplots like the homeless, the struggling women's rights movement, the sub-citizen status given to prostitutes' rights, and police incompetence. This reviewer is not familiar with Sir Arthur's biography (but see below), so cannot judge the factual merits of the material presented here. But such accuracy would be totally irrelevant to the enjoyment of this rousing good story.
B.F.S. Video's color picture and Dolby digital sound are excellent for this BBC production. There is a great set of easily accessed and read special feature stills, including a multi-screen Doyle biography, a list of his selected works, multi-screen cast profiles, and multi-screen production notes. The 116-minute production is highly recommended along with the rest of the series if you can get them!
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 20, 2009 10:19:19 PM PDT
Speed Reader says:
We are huge fans of Ian Richardson and loved the "House of Cards" trilogy. We would love to purchase the full "Murder Rooms" series, but what (pray tell) is PAL and how to we purchase equipment to play it?

Hooked in California

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2009 6:23:49 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Nov 10, 2009 3:13:26 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2009 8:18:32 PM PST
Paul Fogarty says:
Most DVD players here in the US are set to Region 1, which means they only play Region 1 (USA) discs, to play discs from the UK for instance, which are Region 2, you need a Region Free, or Multi-Region DVD player... if you Google the terms you'll find you can buy them here on Amazon quite easily. Alternatively, you can convert a DVD player/burner in a PC to Region 2, and then watch discs from England on your monitor, which is what I have done.

Posted on Mar 30, 2010 10:26:31 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Sep 13, 2011 5:55:16 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2010 3:30:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 5, 2010 3:40:28 PM PDT
jammer says:
My review of this DVD was way WAY WAY back in 2004. To our great good fortune (!) the powers that be have seen fit to bring the rest of these episodes to our shores! Please refer to my Amazon review of "Murder Rooms - The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes"!

Posted on Jul 20, 2015 6:07:29 AM PDT
Rant away about "Never Twice the Same Color", which is merely a standard inferior to PAL the US got stuck with to maintain compatibility with the existing monochrome system, as well as region codes, which are pure evil.

Modern displays are perfectly capable of dealing with the different scan rates. All other obstacles are deliberately imposed to take away control.

Posted on Nov 13, 2015 5:18:37 PM PST
REGION 2 DVD players by "SONY" are available on Amazon for less than $50. Check it out , I have played movies from England, Russia, Spain, and Germany on mine. Most all of the movies I have watched are American movies no longer distributed in the US. Yes, we are missing some good stuff, because it don't play on US players. I recommend spending a little more and buying a Blu-ray player,since some of these "foreign" films are only on Blu-ray
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