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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars London's Only "Consulting Detective.", 2 Nov 2008
This review is from: Ultimate Sherlock Holmes Collection [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
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
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