A Great Showcase for Peter Cushing
Dan Day | South Bend, IN | 12/25/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
""The Sherlock Holmes Collection" contains the only six surviving episodes of the BBC's 1968 TV series "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes". The great Peter Cushing stars as Holmes and Nigel Stock plays Dr. Watson. The six episodes feature five stories:
The Hound of the Baskervilles (a two-part episode)
The Sign of the Four
The Blue Carbuncle
A Study in Scarlet
The Boscombe Valley Mystery
The main reason to get this set is Peter Cushing. It's great to see him playing one of his favorite characters at the prime of his career. Cushing had already played Holmes in Hammer Films' THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES in 1959. Cushing's TV Holmes is a bit calmer
than his Hammer Holmes. The mannerisms and behaviour of the literary Holmes are still present, though.
Unfortunately the episodes themselves do not live up to the star of the series. It's obvious the BBC did not spend the money necessary to bring Doyle's stories to life properly. Most of the scenes in the episodes are indoors and filled with dialogue. It's sometimes like watching a play. The action and atmosphere of Doyle seem to be avoided due to budgetary reasons. A prime example is The Sign of Four. This is one of Doyle's best works, but here it is condensed down to a Cliff Notes version. The Sign of Four should have been a two-parter as well.
Nigel Stock does a decent job as Watson, but the supporting players in the episodes tend to overact badly. In later interveiws, Peter Cushing would express his disappointment with how the series turned out. The BBC made a total of sixteen episodes, but only these six survive, because in those days the BBC would erase or re-use their tapes!
Overall, the picture and sound quality are fine (the episodes are in color). Even though these are not the best presentations of Doyle's detective, this series is a must for Peter Cushing fans and for Sherlock Holmes lovers."
Robert E. Rodden II | Peoria, IL. United States | 12/22/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well done, atmospheric Holmes adventures with Peter Cushing and Nigel Stock. I'm sorry the rest of this 60's series is lost, since I believe I read that Cushing actually did about 16 episodes for the series. The loss is ours, but it makes having this small collection of the survivors that more precious. If you are a Hammer Film fan then you are pretty sure of what you're getting with Cushing's performance as the master slueth. I enjoyed his big screen turn as Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, but the performance at times seemed a bit too energetic, almost too frenetic at times, as though Cushing were trying hard to point out how unusual Holmes was. In these later years portrayals, Cushing's Holmes seems to move with a slow intellectual grace that is more befitting the Detective. Nigel Stock is also a recognizable face from Hammer, and other British productions. He plays Watson very well here, using the right combination of patience and awe at Holmes' quirks and genious insites.
Picture quality is very good, and sound is likewise better than expected, with five tales told in Victorian times, and with enough suspense and humor to please any Holmes fan."
A must for Holmes fans
Paula Clifford | Nashua, NH United States | 12/27/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The series is worth watching for the Holmes of Peter Cushing, as well as Nigel Stock's take on Watson. The guests are unfamiliar aside from Gary Raymond and Frank Middlemass. The main flaws are the slow pace and low budget sets, as well as color, which never seems suited to the Victorian settings.
The biggest surprise here is a complete verison of "A Study in Scarlet", which one book claimed only had a few scenes that still existed. The changes in the story were minor, a minus being in not keeping the first meeting of Holmes and Watson, a big plus being the deletion of the dull flashback from the book.
"The Hound of the Baskervilles" is a bit disappointing, it suffers from the two part telling and, being fairly faithful to the novel, has far too little Holmes. Two other flaws, a cave floor creaks badly and the story ends abruptly.
"The Boscombe Valley Mystery" wasn't one of Doyle's best and is probably the weakest in the collection here, due in part to the poor supporting cast.
"The Sign of Four" stuck fairly close to the novel, except for the end. Only the Arthur Wontner verison actually had the nerve to allow watson to marry.
"The Blue Carbuncle" has the most padding to fill the time, but does feature a good scene where Watson gets a laugh at Holmes' expense after a faulty deduction.
Those who think Cushing was too short to play Holmes should reread "The Three Students" and "The Abbey Grange", where Holmes gives himself gives his height at six feet, the same as Cushing. (Arthur Wontner was an inch shorter by the way.)
Even with the flaws this is easily the best television Holmes collection out there and is second only to the better Rathbone films."
PETER CUSHING AND THE BBC HOLMES
Kay's Husband | Virginia, U.S.A. | 02/03/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
I have all the Jeremy Brett versions of Sherlock Holmes on DVD but after seeing the 1959 film THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES with Peter Cushing wanted this set to see more of Cushing's portrayal of Holmes. Most viewers will not be disappointed with the Holmes portrayed by Peter Cushing. His acting is superb adding a bit of dash and difference to the Holmes stories.
One should take note, however, that THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES of this BBC TV set IS NOT the one of the 1959 movie also starring Christopher Lee. All features within this 3 disc set are from BBC TV. While interesting to see they can be a bit ragged in places and some of the sets leave a bit also to be wished for.
Overall if one enjoys Holmes and the Holmes' stories there cannot be any disappointment in these discs. It's unfortunate that only these handful of stories survive from those years.
Though I yet prefer the Jeremy Brett series as being more professionally done, these discs are good and enjoyable to watch. Unfair perhaps, but forty-plus years of improvement in film does make a difference. But Peter Cushing has left us with a capital performance where Sherlock Holmes is concerned, while the role of Dr. Watson is more than ably performed as well.