I haven’t read the actual Sherlock Holmes books, nor I have watched any movies, (If you leave that strange one with Tom and Jerry aside…) so this series is to this time of writing, remains the only exposure to the Sherlock Holmes I have.
The series was created by Michael cocks, and aired from 1984 to 1994 on ITV, Jeremy Bret was the one who played the role of the detective, and the role of doctor Watson was played by two actors: David Burke for the first few episodes, and Edward Hardwicke played the role of the doctor for the rest of the series.
A brief personal history:
Back in late 2009, this series was aired on the Fox History and Entertainment, dubbed into Hindi. One night, I was awake, as I often did during that time since watching television at the night time was so interesting for my child-self, I for the first time, saw this series.
It’s opening, the violin playing during the opening and ending, and horse carriages, it all attracted my attention.
Of course, the dubbing was excellent as well, so my childhood self was immediately hooked on this series.
When next day, when I asked my father about Sherlock Holmes, he told me that there was this detective at once, about whom there are these stories. He didn’t knew anything beyond that, but it still didn’t stopped me from watching this at eleven at night.
Sadly, the Hindi dub was incomplete, they never aired the episodes after the confrontation of Moriarty and Holmes, and soon enough the time slawt was taken over by the channel’s traveling experiment, which resulted in the channel’s later rebranding into a full on traveling channel, and much resentment on my part.
I naturally, wanted to see this series in Hindi as well again, but sadly I couldn’t find the dub. But for this review, the original language would do just fine.
Impact of the first episode:
The first episode is called a scandal in Bohemia, where the king apparently wants the letters back from a woman with whom he was involved earlier, fearing blackmail from her.
As Watson returns, and started to chastise Holmes for taking drugs, I heard the original voice of the Jeremy Bret for the first time, and I didn’t knew that he sounded so deep. The Hindi dubbed voice didn’t sound anywhere near this deep.
Also, ever since Watson enters into the house, there is this clacking noise present. It sounds like the hoof of horses, but since I can’t see, I have no way of confirming it. For all I know, it might be some unique sounding clock.
Few scenes of notes from the episode 1:
The king of Bohemia approached Holmes in disguise, and after removing his mask, and having a conversation with him, gave various reasons of why the letters could implicate him.
It was not only funny to see Holmes shooting down every way the king suggested of implicating himself through the letters, but it was very great to see Holmes arriving at those conclusions so quickly.
Until the king reveals that there is a photograph in those letters, in which both the woman and the king are present.
Of course, Holmes laughing at the king was just cherry on top.
Another scene which was at the end of episode, where the king praises Irene Adler, thinking what a queen she would have made. Below, is the exchange between the king and Holmes:
King of Bohemia: what a woman, what a queen she would have made. is it not a pity that she was not on my level?
Sherlock Holmes: from what I have seen of the lady, yes indeed she is on a very different level to your majesty.
I don’t know what kind of expression the king made after that reply, but I really think that he couldn’t do much regarding that stealthy insult.
In any case, this made to be a great first episode. A genius detective, who would serve as a template for many such characters in the future, was outwitted by a woman in a Victorian age no less! That kind of thing definitely leaves an impact.
Rest of the series:
After that, I moved on to the next episode, called the dancing men. Immediately, I was struck with the different atmosphere of this episode.
While the previous episode had an undercurrent of amusement, this one is more grim, within it’s plot, it’s music, and the behavior of the characters.
On the up side, Holmes is not taking cocaine in this episode since he has a challenge for himself.
I am sure Watson is happy about that.
Also, the hoof noises were not limited to the first episode in the Holmes’s and Watson’s house. Though again, it could be the horse carriages outside, but they are to regular to be those.
I distinctly remember few scenes from the case of navel treaty, which is the third episode of this series. More specifically, Holmes calling Mrs. Hudson for hot water, the schooling of the impetuous officer, and the happiness and anger of Percy when the document was found, and the brother of his fiance was the culprit.
Let’s see whether I can find more of them or not.
The adventure of the solitary cyclist, is another familiar episode for me. I remember when I was board in my class, around in third or fourth standard, I would try to write the story of this episode in braille. (I was a slow learner.)
And I am very serious when I write this, the actress of Violet Smith, Barbara Wilshere sounds… gorgeous.
Look don’t judge me too hard. I have very limited ways of ascertaining someone’s appearance, and though it might not be very accurate, voice is one of them.
Also, I saw Holmes getting involved in a brawl here for the first time. Whenever I imagine Sherlock Holmes, it is always as a genius who hates the dull routine of the daily life, always frowning over a problem to solve.
But here, Holmes goes into a tavern, gets in a brawl, and manages to come out as a victor, as the public present there started to clap.
The piano version of the shows opening and closing theme was also memorable.
The episode Crooked Man, is one of the few times where I honestly feel that Jeremy is has found is match in portrayal of a character.
I believe that Norman Jones did a great job of communicating the pain, the rage, and the hatred within his roll, all the while remaining to be a sympathetic character.
Come to think of it, I remember that this was one of the scarier episodes from my childhood, and the voice actor who dubbed for Norman Jones, also did a great job in communicating those emotions.
Of course, the memorable moments just do not end here. In the very next episode, with the title of Speckled Band, the memorable bit is when the angry doctor comes to see Holmes, he bends the fire poker as a display of his strength, and a warning to Holmes that he should stay away from his afairs.
This by itself is not memorable. I have noted previously, how I don’t expect the displays of strength from Holmes, but he proved me wrong once more. But this time, instead getting in a brawl in a bar, he picks up the fire poker, and straitened it once more, all the while amused at the behavior of the doctor.
The Blue Carbuncle, aside from the snobbish lady, is memorable for Holmes actually letting go the criminal, in a hope that he would actually reform. This episode also marks the ending of the first season of the show.
As I have noted before, the episodes have gotten darker and darker, with two exceptions in the season one. The first episode, and the last one.
First, because it had an undercurrent of amusement for me, as the king worries about his pictures being released in public with another woman right when he was about to be married with a princess of another kingdom, and the last episode, because Holmes didn’t reported the criminal, and let him go, and actually no one died or got wounded.
Little I would have known that the darkness was just about to increase…
The season two begins with the episode called The Copper Beeches. Where a lady named Violet Hunter, (No relation with Violet Smith) is called to work on this strange and creepy sounding guy’s house.
The guy is called Jephro Rucastle, and Joss Ackland, would make greatest of the deep sounding heal wrestlers mad from envy.
I remember how I would end up mixing this episode with the episode of Violet Smith, not because of the names, because they had the same voice actresses for the Hindi dub.
Aside from that strange request for Violet to cut her hare, I don’t remember anything of this episode from my childhood. And of course, this episode is very dark in comparison to the A scandal in Bohemia.
I’ve got so many questions regarding the episode of The Greek Interpreter. Mostly, did the people who were dubbing this episode knew Greek? Did they just imitate the sounds? Etc. etc.
But these people are a secretive bunch, so we can’t expect to get any answers anytime.
The Norwood Builder is where I got the first look of Lestrade. I was expecting him to be an antagonistic, unreasonable figure, but he aside from some sort of rivalry with Holmes, appears to be quite reasonable, and even offered Holmes credit for solving the case.
He also spared the innocent guy, whereas I have seen many of inspectors who would try to put the wrong guy on a chopping block, just to save their reputation.
The only thing which I remember from the episode The Resident Patient, is the choking and that large thunk and cracking sound, as Lexington was hanged in his own room. I couldn’t forget those noises as a child, and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting them anytime soon after re-watching this episode.
The Final Problem is the last episode of the season two. It could have been the last episode, if Arthur Conan Doil didn’t started to write new stories after this one.
The channel, Fox History and Entertainment, for whatever reason, didn’t show anymore episodes after this one, either they were not dubbed, or the channel didn’t care to air them, or some another reason which I fail to understand.
This episode also marks the final appearance for David Burke as doctor Watson. I am sure everyone has speculated about his leave from the show, and David probably has stated somethings regarding over the years. But I’ll just be noting this and move on, since this article is not about the speculations of his leave.
The episode has a very different opening from the usual opening of the show, with very grim sounding violin to accompany it.
There’s a funny story about this episode as well. Once I told one of the senior students the story of this episode, and he started to pay tribute to Holmes, in English. Too bad that I didn’t have skills with English as I do now back then, I would have like to provided the sarcastic commentary regarding that tribute here.
And thus, the episodes after this, (Series three and beyond,) are completely new for me. It should be a great experience. Let’s see what more memorable things I can find?
Immediately the thing which is most noticeable is the opening. Whereas the violin sounded like it is being played in an average room of sorts, now it echoes as if it is played in a large concert place, or in an empty house, which is appropriately the title of the episode.
Also, how different Watson sounds with the new actor Edward Hardwick. David sounded like a cheerful man, who is always curious to learn new things, and never loses his cheer even if he fails to pick up what he is trying to learn, or understand.
Whereas Edward sounds like more mature version of Watson, who has been depressed for many years, since he never recovered from the death of his friend.
The episode called The Illustrious Client is memorable for all the wrong reasons. How can it be otherwise? When something like “oil of vitriol” is involved? (Old term for Sulphuric acid.)
Apparently, there is this guy who loves to collect women like some sort of twisted video game achievements, and if they don’t comply, he throws acid at them. This for some moments reminded me of Sonali Mukerjee. (Quick summary. She was the victim of the acid attack, who after nine years of treatment and running around, asked for her death. It is unknown to me what happened to her afterwards.)
Looks like Indians did learn a lot from the Victorians, didn’t we?
At least the lady who was disfigured by this man got her revenge, by throwing the same acid at him, disfiguring him for life as well.
By the season 7, Jeremy’s health was getting worsened, and this is evident from watching the episode “The Dying Detective.” Even before then, Jeremy’s voice sounded rather off to me from the season 3 onwards, unlike the smooth and full of energy as it was used to be in the first 2 seasons.
The Dying Detective was significantly modified, (Not that the other episodes before this one weren’t, this one is just more noticeable,) and other actors had to carry the show. Jeremy didn’t even spoke much during this episode.
My opinion over all:
With the wonderful acting of the David Burke, Edward Hardwick, and Jeremy Bret to mention a few, and the wonderful soundtrack by Patrick Gower to accompany it, I really think that you should definitely watch this series. There have been many tries to create a Sherlock Holmes series, and so far, I believe this one has the most success.
Perhaps the only thing which comes close to its success is the Soviet made films, for which the actors became the honorary member of the British empire.
Anyway, I do hope you have fun reading this article. It was certainly a walk into my childhood memories, and it is a shame that the tv channels like the Fox History and Entertainment don’t exist anymore.
I started to write this article when I wasn’t even sure whether my blog would exist or not, just like the book review of World War Z, which you can read
As such, you can clearly see some differences in my writing. I do hope you still enjoy this. Follow me on twitter:
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4 thoughts on “TV Series Review: Sherlock Holmes 1984”
I’m not sure if you know, but on your website’s homepage the main image is of trees/mountains and says “Welcome to Your New Site. For more information about customizing your site” etc. Do you want it to look like that?
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No. But given the events, I didn’t had time to remove it.
However, I expect to get rid of it in three or four days.
I love some Sherlock!!
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Then give this series a chance. (You might be able to find some episodes on youtube. But you didn’t hear that from me.)
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