"The Devil's Foot" finds Holmes and Watson on a holiday in Cornwall, in order to try and restore Holmes's damaged health. But suddenly they are confronted with the case of a young woman found dead with a look of absolute terror on her face, while her two brothers, found in the same room, seem to have been literally frightened out of their wits. No trace of violence can be found upon the victims, though. Needless to say that Holmes is intrigued and starts to investigate, despite Watson's protests.
The adaptation remains very close to the original tale of A. C. Doyle. It is probably one of his most uncanny stories, and the film manages to convey that atmosphere brilliantly. Jeremy Brett plays the initially sick and bored Holmes and his transformation through the fascinating case very well, while Edward Hardwicke is simply great as his protective friend Dr. Watson. Especially the scene with the infamous experiment deserves full attention, as it is beautifully played - and is shows that this not only a good mystery, but also the story of two old friends.
The only major divergence from the original story is that the ongoing topic of Holmes' cocaine (ab-)use comes to a conclusion here. However, it fits in with the topic of the story. While the story is indeed not a little bit gruesome and the sensitive topic of drugs is dealt with, it is never done too explicit. Still, it should be kept in mind that it is not suitable for younger children and is indeed - in contrast to most other episodes - rated for an audience of 15 years or over.
I wholly recommend the Granada series in general and this episode in particular, but this is probably not a very good entrance if you have never seen an episode before or at least know the characters of Holmes and Watson through the books, as some foreknowledge is necessary to fully appreciate the character interaction.
"Silver Blaze" is the name of a famous racing horse that has gone missing only days before the important Wessex Cup, while its trainer has been found murdered. The police asks Sherlock Holmes for help and so he and Dr. Watson leave for Dartmoor, where the dreadful events took place. The owner of Silver Blaze is not too happy about the involvement of an amateur and doubts his ability to help. But Holmes is undeterred and of course shows again that he is indeed a master of his profession.
"Silver Blaze" presents an captivating mystery in which the audience shares the same information as Sherlock Holmes (and thus can try to measure with the detective), and still manages to surprise totally at the end. A tour de force of reasoning and logical deduction, sprinkled with a good dose of humour throughout. Holmes at his best!
The DVD itself contains no extra-features, which is certainly a bit disappointing and the only fault I can find at all, but then the price is very reasonable, so I forgive the sparse equipment.
Another expensive entry in the series was Silver Blaze, dramatised by a veteran of the series: John Hawkesworth. In this story Holmes again travels west, to Dartmoor, in search of a murderer and a missing race-horse.
This is one of Conan Doyles' most brilliant stories and it is expertly handled by Granada. Featuring Peter Barkworth in a memorable role as Colonel Ross.
The Devils' Foot is at times disturbing as it represents Holmes (Brett also?)when he is suffering from physical and mental anguish, together with drug induced hallucinations.
Silver Blaze is a more conventional hunt for a murderer, but with a twist in the tale (tail?).
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