SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE BAKER STREET IRREGULARS
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In his novel A Study in Scarlet, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced a group of six street urchins called the Baker Street Irregulars. The Irregulars return in this original mystery produced for the BBC starring Jonathan Pryce, Bill Patterson, Anna Chancellor, and Michael Maloney. A gripping family drama, it has everything Holmes fans expect: complex characters, a compelling story, a brilliant villain, and a satisfying solution. The witty script gives Holmes a slightly more modern feel that will appeal to a new generation of viewers.
The Baker Street Irregulars, London street urchins who provided reconnaissance for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, have long been ripe for an adventure of their own. British television movie Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars fills the bill pretty well, with an original story that finds an old enemy of Holmes masterminding the destruction of the sleuth as well as his young allies. When the disappearance of one Irregular happens to coincide with a bizarre plot to murder Scotland Yard inspectors, not even Holmes (Jonathan Pryce) sees a connection until it's too late. By then, two kids are missing and suspicion falls on Holmes himself for the cop killings, forcing him to entrust his fate--and that of the others--to the children who work tirelessly for him. The mystery and drama are satisfying, though Doyle purists will balk at the film's liberties with Holmes' personal and professional history. The story, however, really has more to do with redefining the Irregulars as a kind of family unto themselves, poor kids who have no one without one another, and no purpose without their occasional marching orders from a man they very much admire. This is a family movie that can be enjoyed even by those who've never heard of Sherlock Holmes, though a passing familiarity helps. With Bill Paterson as Dr. Watson and Michael Maloney as a typically obtuse inspector. --Tom KeoghSee all Editorial Reviews
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I was happy to see someone taking on the tough job of writing an new Holmes story that did not lift whole sections from the Doyle originals. Really, after you've watched the Six Napoleons with Jeremy Brett, do you really want to watch the same story with someone else as Holmes? So, even though the plot has some gaping holes in it, you have to give the writers a nod of thanks. New Sherlock Holmes projects have been few and far between lately.
The plot does take liberties with the original canon; since another reviewer has already spilled the beans there - with no spoiler alert, I might add, I'll move on. By the very nature of the story, Holmes is unable to do much in his own defense and Watson too is shoved off to the side to make way for the Irregulars. This definitely makes it a young adult/teen adventure movie and it does frustrate me when the Great Detective sits in Baker Street motionless while all this goes on. I liked the concept of Holmes being the prime suspect but it also puts the number one character on the shelf.
Jonathan Pryce is all right as Holmes but, no disrespect intended, I wish he were a bit younger for this role. He does capture Holmes' impatience with the slower intellects around him and he has several great lines - especially the one about 'celebrity being the last refuge of the imbecile.' That alone is worthy of the Holmes we know and love. His relationship with the Irregulars is up and down; sometimes they give him no slack - or trust - which is somewhat surprising, given what they do for him in the Doyle stories. Sometimes Holmes is extraordinarily patient with them, especially the abrasive Sadie, who is an actively annoying character. Watson is well played by Bill Paterson, a loyal, jolly soul who is not above smiling smugly as Holmes jabs at Scotland Yard. Watson is not buffoon in this one and that's all to the good.
The Irregulars are a mixed bag; there are a couple of promising young actors, particularly Finch, and a couple who are really not very good at all. Some Americanisms creep into their speech and the net result is they really don't seem like the 'street arabs' Conan Doyle described but more like modern teens out on a lark.
Bottom line; if you're looking for another Holmes movie to be just as good as the Jeremy Brett series, this isn't it. There is a lot to find fault on and pick apart. But if you'd like some new Sherlock Holmes video to watch and you can be flexible enough to stand some revisions to the Canon, you might want to give this one a try.