Monday, 6 July 2015

Sherlock Scribbles: The Hound of the Baskervilles (2002)

For a Sherlock Holmes fan, I really don't blog about Holmesian-related matters all that much. Today I'm hoping to rectify that by starting a new series of posts in which I look at a different Holmes adaptation each time. We start with a BBC TV version of the most famous Sherlock story of them all...

 Starring: Richard Roxborough (Sherlock Holmes), Ian Hart (Dr Watson), Neve McIntosh (Beryl Stapleton), John Nettles (Dr Mortimer) and Richard E Grant (Jack Stapleton)

Synopsis: At Christmas time, Holmes and Watson are employed to investigate the strange circumstances surrounding Sir Charles Baskerville's death. Was he really killed by the monstrous hound which is said to plague the family? Or is the murderer a mere mortal?

Doyled or spoiled?: This adaptation largely stays faithful to the iconic tale, apart from a few key details. Obviously it changes the action to taking place at Christmas - the TV film was first shown on Boxing Day - and also embellishes certain elements, one memorable example being the inclusion of a seance to contact the dead Baskerville which heightens the gothic atmosphere of the piece. It also presents Holmes unusually in the thrall of his drug habit during a case, when in the stories he only uses it in between cases. The villain of the piece, Stapleton, is also enhanced to make him a much more vindictive and worthy foe.. 

Highlight: Definitely Richard E Grant's Stapleton. The 'whodunnit' aspect of the story is bravely thrown away quite early so that we may have Grant being malcious for as long as possible. Almost Moriarty-ish in his obsession at beating the great Sherlock Holmes, he also badly wounds Dr Watson and Henry Baskeville and would have succeeded in killing Holmes if it wasn't for the timely intervention of the good doctor.

Verdict: While brave enough to beef up certain aspects of the story, this version of the well-told tale fails to really take off, largely due to mishandling the most important part of any Holmes story: the relationship between the detective and his Boswell. While Ian Hart is a capable, if humourless, Watson he snaps at Holmes so much you wonder why he hangs around with him. Likewise, Richard Roxborough is a rather bland Holmes, demonstrating none of our hero's usual vigour and brain power. It's a shame Richard E Grant didn't get the central role but at least he is on hand to save the show as the deliciously odious Stapleton. Certainly not the definitve version of the story.

Doctor Who's Dr Simeon and Madame Vastra turn up in this Holmes adaptation

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...