Sherlock Holmes

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Simon36
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Simon36 »

gogglebox wrote:Awful is the word that comes to mind.Firstly it doesn't work to have such well known actors with perhaps the exception of Tom Baker. The film was all gloss and the story was complete Tosh.It saddens me when I think that so many lavish movies have been made of Holmes,but despite the big budgets they completely missed the point of what Sherlock Holmes is.Conan Doyle celebrated intelligence in his Canon of stories not the trivia of celebrity and the overblown vanity of screenwriters probably fueled by artificial stimulants that the movies seem to have been obsessed with

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Blimey are we talking about the same film here?

For what it's worth, Baker and Rigby are dire in my book but Plummer and Mason a gorgeous pairing, and Decree is a great film. Yes of coures the story is nonsense but in the hands of John Hopkins this is a frightening and also very moving piece. Great score too. Love it. "The overblown vanity of screenwriters probably fueled by artificial stimulants"... don't hold back now!

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ctraynor »

I have to agree. Though the conspiracy theory about the Freemasons being behind the Jack the Ripper murders was pretty much discredited 30 years or so ago, the film still stands up as a moving comment on the corruption of power with Holmes sleuthing his way to the truth. It was also atmospheric and sinister, even in the scene set in broad daylight when Holmes and the woman (was it Mary Kelly?) are chased by the mystery driver of the horse and carriage and Holmes is run down.

Besides, if we're being puritan about it, how many of Conan Doyle's original Sherlock Holmes stories stand up to analysis? Not all of them. And Doyle was a great writer but lazy, with some story endings rushed and unsatisfactory, and some stories not even requiring any deductions, just Holmes having to listen to someone's confession, like The Veiled Lodger; not that I minded the story but it's perhaps not one you'd bring to the defence of the canon.

I think Doyle was basically a great storyteller, but not all of his stories were worth telling.

Apart from that, Doyle replied to someone adapting Holmes into a play who asked if it was all right to marry the detective off: "Marry him, murder him, do what you like with him." I've avoided seeing the Robert Downey Jr films simply because they're directed by Guy Richie and sound too brash and too far from the path for my tastes and I don't like Guy Richie films, but one or two friends who like Sherlock Holmes enjoyed these ones.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Brian F »

Wasn't Conan Doyle fed up with writing Holmes stories (the reason for Sherlock's "death" at the Falls) and was pressured into continuing? I suspect some were rushed due to pressure from the published and he lacked the enthusiasm to invent the normal quality of plotting.

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Mickey
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Mickey »

ctraynor wrote:I've avoided seeing the Robert Downey Jr films simply because they're directed by Guy Richie and sound too brash and too far from the path for my tastes and I don't like Guy Richie films, but one or two friends who like Sherlock Holmes enjoyed these ones.
Guy Richie's direction is overly-stylised to the point of driving me nuts at times, but the films themselves, in terms of story and performance, are actually very good. Downey does a terrific Holmes, and Law is very good as Watson, both true to the books in a way that the film versions so rarely have been. They're young(ish), they're believable men of action, and Watson isn't a blustering buffoon. Far from it, in actual fact. Downey is very good as a genius oddball; a little too much a man of now, rather than then, perhaps, but that's not at all rare in period drama. For character and story, I recommend them. If only they had had a different director!

As for Conan Doyle, he was a superb writer, but I agree that his stories weren't always up to scratch. He doesn't seem to have had his finger on the pulse all that well either. I shall never quite forgive him for persuading Hornung to kill off Raffles! The public won't warm to a hero who's a crook indeed. What a waste.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

I quite enjoyed the first Guy Richie Holmes film, and thought the two leads were pretty decent (even if Downey Jr isn't exactly my idea of Holmes, but everyone has their own, I think). However, the second one I found very disappointing - it just seemed like a very generic action movie, with nothing particular clever or interesting in it and no real element of deduction or anything that really gave it that Sherlock Holmes feel.

Although I suppose it was an interesting change to have it that Holmes *did* actually go over the falls, rather than this just being what Watson assumes happened - has any other version ever done this?

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Nick Cooper 625
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

ian b wrote:There's a HOLMES themed TIMESHIFT coming up on BBC4 on 12th January...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03pzsd9
Hopefully we'll get a nice long(er-than-previous) clip from the Wilmer Bruce Partington Plans!
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

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Nick Cooper 625
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

Brian F wrote:Wasn't Conan Doyle fed up with writing Holmes stories (the reason for Sherlock's "death" at the Falls) and was pressured into continuing? I suspect some were rushed due to pressure from the published and he lacked the enthusiasm to invent the normal quality of plotting.
He very much resented the success of Holmes over his "serious" historical novels, which of course hardly anybody is even aware of these days. BBC2's Encounters dramatised this with a "meeting" between Conan Doyle (Frank Finlay) and the "spirit" of Holmes (Richard E Grant).
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

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gogglebox
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by gogglebox »

With the massive exception of the Brett,Wilmer and the much maligned Tom Baker TV Holmes I really don't think Holmes has been served well by the big or small screen.Radio has been so much more consistent in producing excellent dramatisations. My favourite radiio Speckled Band is the one with edward Hardwickes Father Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Holmes.Rathbone and Bruce were much better on radio too.Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley were brilliant too,The Barry Foster binaural BBC holmes drama was excellent too, I am not much of a fan of the Clive Merrison series,there's something about his voice in the part of Holmes I just don't get on with.Unlike the screen on radio you can get away with well known actors as Holmes because the mind produces the best pictures. I loved the Gielgud/Richardson Holmes as well. Possibly my favourite audio Holmes is Robert Hardy and Nigel Stock who did 8 stories from the canon for LP Record and Compact Cassette release. If ever an actor was overlooked to play Holmes I reckon it was Robert Hardy by no means visually the Paget image of Holmes,but like Tom Baker I reckon he could have given a fascinating portrayal of Holmes.Though being such an actor in demand during his career he probably didn't want to be associated too much with Holmes due the pitfalls of typecasting playing the part has all to often entailed.

Here's hoping another actor with the brilliance of Jeremy Brett comes along to put Holmes back on the screen with the canonical truth that Granada TV did.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by brigham »

Mickey wrote:
As for Conan Doyle, he was a superb writer, but I agree that his stories weren't always up to scratch. He doesn't seem to have had his finger on the pulse all that well either. I shall never quite forgive him for persuading Hornung to kill off Raffles! The public won't warm to a hero who's a crook indeed. What a waste.
Raffles, like Holmes, didn't stay dead. He mysteriously survived the Boer War, and re-appeared in Edwardian times as a latter-day Regency 'blood', committing a string of motoring offences, a number of assaults, including one upon the King, and gatecrashing the maiden voyage of the Titanic, with disastrous consequences.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ctraynor »

Sherlock has successfully pulled off the trick of moving the character into the modern age. If Conan Doyle wrote the stories now, it's highly likely that this is how he would do them, Holmes making use of the most modern items in the form of phones, internet etc. The characterisations, though 21st century, are recognisable as updates of the originals as are the styles of humour and banter.

Jeremy Brett probably was the definitive portrayal of the original books' character, though it would have been good to see a two-part Valley of Fear preceding The Final Problem, rather than just squeezing Moriarty into the Red Headed League episode just before his climactic story.

I remember Barry Foster's Radio 4 Holmes from 1978. His episodes were good.

Not only were several film and TV Holmes stories good in themselves (Murder by Decree for the reasons already stated, The Scarlet Claw, Ronald Howard, A Study in Terror, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes etc) but some pastiches are superior to many of Doyle's stories (The West End Horror by Nicholas Meyer, The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz).

It's possible to be too precious about sticking to the canon in which, like I said, a lot of the stories left something to be desired.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by andrew baker »

Though the actual business of the trains was absurd in Sherlock a gold star for using a Holmesian apocrypha - "The Lost Special" - an non Holmes Doyle story that features a letter to a newspaper from a well known detective which was actually quoted in Sherlock - a saying that's used elsewhere about after eliminating the impossible the residuum however improbable must be the truth.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ian b »

Nick Cooper 625 wrote:
ian b wrote:There's a HOLMES themed TIMESHIFT coming up on BBC4 on 12th January...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03pzsd9
Hopefully we'll get a nice long(er-than-previous) clip from the Wilmer Bruce Partington Plans!
Well, we did - but not a sequence with the trains in!

I know TIMESHIFT is constrained by both running time and affordability/obtainability of clips, but surely there should have been something from the existing episodes of Cushing's BBC series?

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

The Cushing series did seem a strange omission, but overall I enjoyed the programme.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ctraynor »

Some stuff may have been shoved aside to make room for a minimum amount of Cumberpatch clips. There're loads more things they could have covered - Ronald Howard, clips from Study in Terror, Murder by Decree, for starters, but maybe there were cost troubles with showing some of these. I'd like to have seen a bit of Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century.

Charles Norton
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Charles Norton »

It would also be interesting to know why so many of the clips used in last night's programme looked like they had been filmed through a sock. The Rathbone clips were a mess, for the most part. Considering that the Universal series has recently been remastered to the very highest of standards, is there any real excuse for using material of such dire picture quality? Most of the 4.3 stuff was very badly cropped too, which makes matters worse.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Brian F »

I suspect it was the usual, get the nearest & cheapest source of clips mentality that caused that.

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Nick Cooper 625
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

ian b wrote:
Nick Cooper 625 wrote:
ian b wrote:There's a HOLMES themed TIMESHIFT coming up on BBC4 on 12th January...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03pzsd9
Hopefully we'll get a nice long(er-than-previous) clip from the Wilmer Bruce Partington Plans!
Well, we did - but not a sequence with the trains in!
Still good to have a bit more of it, though.
I know TIMESHIFT is constrained by both running time and affordability/obtainability of clips, but surely there should have been something from the existing episodes of Cushing's BBC series?
Haven't watched the programme yet - did they include the Cushing from one of his films, or overlook him entirely?!
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ian b »

Charles Norton wrote:It would also be interesting to know why so many of the clips used in last night's programme looked like they had been filmed through a sock. The Rathbone clips were a mess, for the most part. Considering that the Universal series has recently been remastered to the very highest of standards, is there any real excuse for using material of such dire picture quality? Most of the 4.3 stuff was very badly cropped too, which makes matters worse.
Which would have needed paying for. Most of the Rathbone clips came from the four titles that lapsed into public domain, which would have saved on the budget. Isn't it that it's fair game if you can lift sequences from trailers too?

Several portrayals were represented by behind-the-scenes pieces, presumably from contemporary BBC shows, which helped kept the costs down too.

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David Boothroyd
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by David Boothroyd »

Nick Cooper 625 wrote: Haven't watched the programme yet - did they include the Cushing from one of his films, or overlook him entirely?!
There was a long section on his appearance in 'Hound of the Baskervilles' for Hammer in 1959, with a note on how he was a big fan of the character and kept changing the script to put in better lines.

Also noted that Hammer inserted themes not found in the book (eg human sacrifice) in an attempt to get an X certificate from the Film Censors, but it was only classified A.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Charles Norton »

Are you quite sure that those Rathbone films are in the public domain? I was under the impression that was something that only applied in America. Either way, I would still argue that archive material was the wrong place to make economies on a programme like this.

They also used clips from the Universal series to illustrate comments about the Fox films (despite also using clips from the Fox Hound elsewhere).

I am doubtless being over-picky. Perhaps others aren't too fussed, but it did strike me as sloppy and careless, perhaps betraying a lack of proper regard for the importance of the archive material in such a documentary. And anyway, none of this is an excuse for cropping 4.3 material, thus degrading its limited vertical resolution still further.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ian b »

Charles Norton wrote:Are you quite sure that those Rathbone films are in the public domain? I was under the impression that was something that only applied in America. Either way, I would still argue that archive material was the wrong place to make economies on a programme like this.
Four films - SECRET WEAPON, WOMAN IN GREEN, TERROR BY NIGHT, DRESSED TO KILL - have slipped into the Public Domain category, hence the numerous cheapo discs with just those films from various companies. It may be a bit dubious this side of the Atlantic, but it doesn't seem as though the original rights holder is that fussed about it.

TIMESHIFT has always produced decent programmes on a meagre budget - but the more you see of them, the more it's tricks are obvious. Ropey PD stuff if possible, BBC owned-outright material if it's available, etc. If I've any concern it's more along the lines that BBC4 never seem too keen to schedule complete programmes in season to accompany such documentaries. Why doesn't this week have an archive Holmes film or tv episode each day? I've never seen a Ellie Norwood film, why not screen at least one of them? Put a Wotner on, followed by a Rathbone. Have a double bill of a Wilmer and Cushing episode, and then a Brett the following day. How about a Howard ep followed up with a Whitehead example?

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by penfold »

ian b wrote:
Charles Norton wrote:
TIMESHIFT has always produced decent programmes on a meagre budget - but the more you see of them, the more it's tricks are obvious. Ropey PD stuff if possible, BBC owned-outright material if it's available, etc. If I've any concern it's more along the lines that BBC4 never seem too keen to schedule complete programmes in season to accompany such documentaries. Why doesn't this week have an archive Holmes film or tv episode each day? I've never seen a Ellie Norwood film, why not screen at least one of them?
Money. If you're going to show a complete short or feature, you're going to have to get a broadcast-quality transfer from the BFI - held 35mm prints - probably commission them to create one - then negotiate with the rights-holder; I believe one Andrew Lloyd-Webber, so be prepared to dig deep IF he wants to play ball; then you need to commission the composition of and then record the music score.......it ain't happening on a BBC2 budget, let alone BBC4. Which is tragic, as I've seen nearly all that survive, and they are very well done: Norwood was terrific, and as was said in the programme, real exteriors were used very effectively. For Stoll and Mr Norwood, The Reichenbach Falls were relocated to Cheddar Gorge, even then a tourist attraction, though quite what our train-buff friends would make of our heroes fetching up at Cheddar direct from Paddington.......

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Charles Norton »

Well, if they can't afford to use a clip from one of the films, I certainly wouldn't expect a full repeat. As you say, it's a shame. It certainly used to be something they did quite a bit. I remember seeing an episode of Adam Adamant Lives for the very first time (long before its DVD release) by virtue of it being part of a 'theme night'. Lets hope we see more (and better) archive trawling in the future. It perhaps only takes a little more determination and imagination to improve the presence and presentation of archive material on the BBC. Perhaps working in closer cooperation with the BFI would help.

EDIT: Ah, it seems someone just beat me to it with that posting.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by penfold »

Charles Norton wrote:Well, if they can't afford to use a clip from one of the films, I certainly wouldn't expect a full repeat. As you say, it's a shame. It certainly used to be something they did quite a bit. I remember seeing an episode of Adam Adamant Lives for the very first time (long before its DVD release) by virtue of it being part of a 'theme night'. Lets hope we see more (and better) archive trawling in the future. It perhaps only takes a little more determination and imagination to improve the presence and presentation of archive material on the BBC. Perhaps working in closer cooperation with the BFI would help.

EDIT: Ah, it seems someone just bit me to it with that posting.
As I know the researcher really well, I have to say it isn't lack of will, skill or knowledge; it's purely lack of budget....and the BFI can't afford to work for nothing either. They co-operate when they can, or when there's no alternative, but by and large if a BFI-sourced clip is needed, that bit gets cut for cost reasons. Your jaw would drop if you knew a) the budget for a BBC4 doc, and b) how much some archives (The BFI are not the dearest) try and charge per second ......

Charles Norton
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Charles Norton »

As it happens, I do know what sort of budgets are involved and how much the BFI can charge. I wasn't saying it was easy. It is, in fact part of a wider problem to do with the whole way in which archive material is looked at in television. It's worth remembering, the BBC has no dedicated archivists for specific collections, but rather general archivists across all BBC radio, TV and online material. Also, we have no proper technical standards or guidelines for archive material and even the BBC's own programmes are not always held (or catalogued) in the BBC's main archive. There are even cases where the BBC does not have full access to its own material. With all these problems and others, it's no wonder that these sort of programmes are not easy to compile (particularly on a budget).

Perhaps however, with the determination to look at things in a different way and given much greater cooperation between the BBC as a whole and the BFI archives, far more could be achieved than it currently is.

And even working under very tight budgets, there are always options over where you economise and where you don't. My argument earlier on was that this programme could have economised elsewhere in order to better present its archive material.

Further to this, instances of cropping 4.3 for widescreen have no bearing on budget anyway and neither does using the clips from the wrong film to illustrate a point.

Things are very hard for programme-makers at the moment, particularly on BBC4. However, that is an argument for using greater imagination to tackle these programmes in a different way. You have to be very careful how you spend your meagre budget, and make sure that you don't get your priorities wrong. The priority here should have been the archive material itself, as that was the story.

I'm not saying that it's easy. It's incredibly difficult to make these programmes under these conditions. However, in this instance, my opinion (and it is only my opinion) is that they got it wrong here.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ian b »

Charles Norton wrote:Well, if they can't afford to use a clip from one of the films, I certainly wouldn't expect a full repeat.
But the two aren't related.

The cost of "properly" arranging for a clip for use in a documentary, that will have an afterlife in Worldwide's sales catalogue, is quite different to clearing the rights for a full screening, (which will have a budget of its own).

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ian b »

Charles Norton wrote:Perhaps however, with the determination to look at things in a different way and given much greater cooperation between the BBC as a whole and the BFI archives, far more could be achieved than it currently is.
Amen to that,

My point earlier about seasons wasn't purely about Holmes - time and again, BBC4 will trumpet a new documentary, or series, that could be supplemented with archive material, be that films or archive television, but isn't.

Why wasn't Lucy Worsley's A VERY BRITISH MURDER supplemented with, say, an episode of DETECTIVE? And a couple of early 30s Whodunnit films, (that very likely the BBC hold the rights to in a bundle deal, but don't want to schedule on one of the main channels)?

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Charles Norton »

ian b wrote:
Charles Norton wrote:Perhaps however, with the determination to look at things in a different way and given much greater cooperation between the BBC as a whole and the BFI archives, far more could be achieved than it currently is.
Amen to that,

My point earlier about seasons wasn't purely about Holmes - time and again, BBC4 will trumpet a new documentary, or series, that could be supplemented with archive material, be that films or archive television, but isn't.

Why wasn't Lucy Worsley's A VERY BRITISH MURDER supplemented with, say, an episode of DETECTIVE? And a couple of early 30s Whodunnit films, (that very likely the BBC hold the rights to in a bundle deal, but don't want to schedule on one of the main channels)?

Oh yes, that would have been a wonderful tie-in.

There's episodes of series like 'Chronicle' we don't get to see as well, to which the BBC already own sole-copyright (barring a very small number of exceptions). There's so much that could be exploited, outside of the obvious. A look to BBC Parliament's re-screening of various election night coverages and last year's Coronation repeat also show how exploiting the archive you've got need not be beyond the means of even the tiniest of channel budgets.

Of course, the deal over the Pathe catalogue has already led to a plethora of good archive exploitation, but there could be so much more. Can you imagine what could be achieved if the BFI and the BBC worked more closely to tie NFT screenings, repeat broadcasts and restoration projects together with BFI DVD releases and BBC 4 strands? The BFI are already keen to expand the range of BBC titles in its DVD catalogue.

Never mind. We can live in hope I suppose.



Incidentally, apologies for my grumpy sounding off earlier. Bad day.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ian b »

Maybe drifting off-topic, but BBC4 does throw up some marvellously unexpected archive stuff at times - but why isn't it done more often? A showcase documentary/clip compilation like the Holmes one should be accompanied with unedited, complete programmes or films that demonstrate why it was thought worthwhile to do the documentary in the first place.

Popular music has had a whole Friday evening dedicated to it for years on 4, usually featuring archive material so why can't just a few, less obvious drama productions get an airing every so often?

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Irongiant »

Getting back to Jeremy Brett as Holmes, and bearing in mind that my interest mainly lies in 'The Adventures of ...' and 'The Return of ...' what is currently considered to be the definite release of those Granada series?

I currently have this DVD boxset:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sherlock-Holmes ... 0006V1FRK/

I believe that the episodes in these are complete (some earlier release had some missing scenes), but are they the best in terms of picture and sound quality? did they ever get an HD release? I recall some being shown on TV a few years ago.

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