on 23 August 2005
Most Sherlockians, or even Holmsians, can remember whether and how old they were when they first heard those tow immortal words: Sherlcok Holmes. And every since the canon has been read and re-read, there have been many pretenders to Doyle's art of storytelling. This CD set travels well and fills the void nicely. This CD release is very welcome, and, considering it was released after Volume 2, long overdue.
Even though Michael Williams is no longer with us Andrew Sachs steps in admirably. In a way, he brings a new dimenson to the character and allows the pastiches to breathe........
Buy it. Savour it. Cherish with the others (BBC included). They deserve it.
So now, only two episodes left in the BBC's Further Adventures Vault. Come on now,.......
on 30 March 2007
Langrange once said that Newton was lucky, for there was a universe for him to discover. Perhaps everyone after Doyle writing a Doyle-styled story is to suffer the same fate as Langrange in the Newtonian universe -- the Holmesian detective universe is already discovered by Doyle, and not matter how hard you try, you are in his sky.
Bearing this thought in my mind, I give this CD 4 stars. The 1 star difference between the original Doyle stories and these new Bert Coules stories is perhaps a reflection of the quality of the stories. Coules is a very talented story teller. His dramatization of the original Doyle series is the best one I have ever owned. Yet when comparing his story with that of Doyle, there is a bit of rush, a bit lack of the gripping sense that you can usually feel in the Doyle stories. Somehow, this new English series has that popular American tint in it. This is not only reflected in the Hollywood words utter inadvertently from the new Holmes' mouth (like "a dark story at a dark night" -- does not it remind you of Disney's Aladdin? And that happens to be at "the wrong place at a wrong time" -- was not it the phrase used by MacArthur in describing the Korean War?), but also in the crime logic embedded in the stories. Doyle's criminals are more calculated rationals, Coules' criminals have that common American madness in them. Second story -- killing in a rage -- Third story -- killing as a god, and the fourth story -- stealing to prove oneself, these plots are all too familiar to a Hollywood horror movie watcher. I do not know if it makes that much sense to a Victorian man, but at least Doyle has little effort devoted to people like Jack the Ripper. (Yes, Jack the Ripper is an English too,but a mad one. He is in no way comparable to the most lamented professor Moriarty.)
Still, I enjoyed tremendously in listening to it. Sometimes, I think the reason why I bought this CD sets is that I, like those at Doyle's time, do not want to see Holmes perish either. Clive Merrison is as good as before, though traveling in a "new world". But I ran into some difficulty in adjusting to the new Watson. To me, the sound of Michael Williams gives the definition of a perfect Watson, and this one deviate much from him.
All in all, I want to thank Bert Coules in making a decent effort. A non-perfect new Holmes story told by an English is still ten times better than those "woman in green" stuffs!
on 22 July 2008
One can only ask how the BBC managed to get it so wrong on the television recently, but so right on the radio? The answer could simply be Bert Coules. Coules adaptations as the chief scriptwriter on Radio 4's complete dramatised canon achieved serveral triumphs; they captured the essence of Holmes brilliantly, gave us a splendid 3D characterisation for Watson, and added in sumptuous extra period details. Oh yes, the writer knew his stuff. So the adaptations were faithful, and very well acted by two very classy actors giving definitive vocal performances in the roles, Clive Merrison and Michael Williams.
Pastiches are often not a great thing, there have been so many terrible 'follow ons' over the course of time,including the recent Case Of The Silk Stocking, but Coules has done his homework and done it well, and put in case after case for which the world was not obviously ready. He picks up on Doyle's love of spiritualism, confronts Holmes with his own theatrical nature, tackles the taboo issues of baby farming, looks into Holmes' early career, and even picks up on professional rivaly.
Merrison heads the cast as superbly as he did in the official adaptations, and Andrew Sachs is a sympathetic Watson, although a little jarring to the ears when one is used to Williams. Sion Probert re-guests wonderfully as Inspector Athelney Jones alongside Roy Hudd during the Singular Inheritance of Miss. Gloria Wilson countering for a little over the top acting from Toyah Wilcox. The true star guest though has to be Tom Baker as Holmes mentor in the superbly written Saviour Of Cripplegate square, a plot worthy of Doyle himself.
A fine listen.
on 24 October 2006
Perhaps it's because these cases are not Canonical but only mentioned in passing, or perhaps it's because I have never been sold on Clive Merrison's Sherlock Holmes; but I found these cases less than interesting. Andrew Sachs, however, is so inspired as Watson (who'd have thought it -- it's much better than his Father Brown) one almost wishes they'd cast him in this role long ago. It's always intriguing to see (or, in this case, hear) how pastiches tie up loose ends in the Canon.
These are generally weak stories. "The Madness of Colonel Warburton" (with Timothy West) has a genuinely unexpected twist, but a conventional ending. My attention wandered during "The Star of the Adelphi." "The Singular Inheritance of Miss Gloria Watson" (with Roy Hudd) builds well, while "The Saviour of Cripplegate Square" (with Tom Baker) is a nasty tale of baby-farming and the misguided sympathies of those who try to play God and try to rationalize evil as good. If you want to hear about baby farming, listen to "Pinafore."
Curiously, Andrew Sachs alone almost made me give this collection four stars. I'm a connoisseur of Watsons and he's very good; but in most of the cases he isn't given enough to do. We need a "Hound of the Baskervilles"-esque case for him.
on 8 June 2007
Bert Coules did yeoman work in bringing the entire Holmes canon (or is it Conan?) to the air and to audiotape. Merrison and Williams were the best Holmes/Watson combo since Rathbone/Bruce. As the stories continued to flow from Coules' pen, he became more and more free in embellishing the stories with added detail. The result was both entertaining and true to the original stories.
I mourned when the canon was finished and rejoiced when I heard that Coules intended to continue the saga with adventures drawn from the canon's references to apocryphal cases.
This is a reissue of the first volume of additional stories by Coules. Entertaining in the extreme. Some random observations: The stories seem more like lateral logic puzzles than mysteries. Holmes is (perhaps a bit too) much more fallible than in the canonical stories. Although I miss Michael Williams as Watson, the Holmes/Watson chemistry is still quite good. The sly references to William Gillette were quite amusing.
Until the coming of Bert Coules, Anthony Boucher and Dennis Greene (who wrote for Rathbone and Bruce) were the best writers of audio Holmes pastiches. Coules has surpassed them. I wish "Further Adventures" a long run on the BBC.
Sadly, it appears that after the issue of volume two of the further adventures, there will be no volume three. The mentor/student relationship Holmes had with the London librarian in "The Saviour of Cripplegate Square" was quite good and it is unfortunate that it will not be revisited. Coules is especially good in characterizing the firm friendship of Holmes and Watson; he brought some of that same charm to Holmes' relationship with the librarian.