Over the years, my blogging on a variety of subjects (Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare, the Bible, etc.) has gotten too diverse and too difficult to maintain. I've given this a great deal of thought, and I've decided to end the Baker Street Babble blog, as well as several of my other themed blogs. Oh, I imagine I'll still share thoughts on the Great Detective from time to time. I may continue my Granada reviews, albeit sporadically.
The only blog I'm planning to maintain is my personal blog, which I call Corybanter. It's over at Medium.com, and it's where I'll share my thoughts on whatever occurs to me. Feel free to visit!
As Shakespeare wrote, " Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow." Perhaps we'll meet again at Corybanter. But for now, it's pip pip and cheerio...
As most Sherlockians are aware, January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany is traditionally celebrated as the birthday of Mr. Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street.
If you'd like to learn more about this traditional observance, the article from I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere linked below is an excellent resource.
"The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge" was a rather lengthy, two=part story that was published as part of the collection of Sherlock Holmes stories collected under the title His Last Bow. The Granada TV adaptation is fairly faithful to its source material, despite having been simplified and shortened, in order to provide a bit more action and to fit into the 52-minute framework of a single episode. Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke are both in good form as Holmes and Watson. (Unlike a couple other episodes during this season of the series, Brett doesn't seem to display much of the effect of the medication he was taking for his bipolar disorder.)
As the plot displays very little of Holmes's usual deductive prowess, most of the value of the episode for the viewer is the interplay between Holmes and the unusually competent Inspector Baynes, portrayed with excellent comic timing by British character actor, Freddie Jones. Holmes often seems both entertained and impressed by Baynes, and Baynes appears to respect Holmes, while also competing with him in a rather congenial fashion. So although I found the plot to be just a bit confusing (much like the original story), the banter between Holmes and Baynes is pretty entertaining.
A great improvement on the original material is the removal of much of the material from the story that tends to reflect the racism of Doyle's time: all of the "voodoo" plot line is removed, and other than a couple uses of the term "mulatto," most of the racist element is considerably toned town. Those elements, while reflecting Doyle's rather typical point of view for England in the Victorian age, add little to the plot, so I found the changes to be quite appropriate for our modern sensibilities.
Overall, while it was hardly one of my favorite episodes, it was enjoyable enough to watch, and for this viewer, at least, was a bit of an improvement on its source material. A decent, if somewhat inconsequential, installment in the Granada series. You may watch the episode below...
At long last, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes is completely in the public domain, as of January 1, 2023. (Yes, I know, I probably should have posted this yesterday, but I got busy with errands and such.)
So now the entire Canon is available for FREE at many locations around the World Wide Web, including here at Baker Street Babble!
On the Links and Such page, you will find a few links to various sites where you can download a PDF of the entire Canon. Also, on the Bookshelf page, you can read the various collections of novels and stories in embedded "flipbook" format, for a little more immersive experience. Happy reading!
I watched the entire CBS series, Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson, shortly after the series wrapped up in 2019, if I recall correctly. When the series first began in 2012, I watched the first couple of episodes, and I was not immediately impressed. I had been a big fan of the BBC's Sherlock, and at the time, I was under the impression that no actor could quite match Benedict Cumberbatch's take on the famous character. However, when I gave the series another try a few years later, I began to see that Elementary had some advantages over its British counterpart. Over the course of seven seasons, Liu and Miller were able to develop their portrayals of Holmes and Watson to a degree that Freeman and Cumberbatch could not achieve. Meanwhile, some of the supporting cast of Elementary were given a great deal of development over time that most of the supporting characters on Sherlock were not given. Finally, while Elementary continued to get better and better over time, and ended up the series at the top of its game, the quality of Sherlock declined noticeably in the fourth (and so far, final) season.
Now that the entire series of Elementary is streaming on Hulu, I decided over this Christmas break to watch a couple episodes, and then decided to re-watch the entire series! I've just finished the first season, and it's absolutely as good as I remembered it having been. Lucy Liu is particularly excellent, I think. And Jonny Lee Miller displays a great deal of versatility in his portrayal of Holmes. Again, the more extended format over many seasons, seems to have allowed both actors to grow in their roles to an extent that their British counterparts did not.
I shan't be reviewing the entire series, as I've been doing with the Granada TV adaptation starring Jeremy Brett, but I may share my thoughts from time to time. Meanwhile, I'm thoroughly enjoying experiencing Elementary again (even if I still have to watch ads, one of the downsides of the Hulu platform).
This being Christmas Day, I thought it would be fun to watch yet another adaptation of the much beloved Christmas Sherlock Holmes story, "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle." I stumbled upon this episode from the unusual animated series, Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, a series that originally aired from 1999-2001. It's an unusual adaptation, to be sure. In the series, a rejuvenated Sherlock Holmes, living in 22nd century London, works with Beth Lestrade (a descendant of Inspector Lestrade from the canon) and a robot Watson to solve crimes. In this particular case, the team encounters a "Blue Carbuncle" animatronic toy, a very cantankerous AI toy, which eventually leads to a brief confrontation with a clone of the infamous Professor Moriarty (apparently the main antagonist of the series).
Once I'm done with my Granada series reviews, I may have to tackle this Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century series, as it appears to be available on YouTube. Sure, it's a little silly, much like most of the animated series that I enjoyed as a kid. Indeed, the end of "Blue Carbuncle" episode I just watched is not unlike a typical episode of shows like "Super Friends," wherein the main character share a jolly laugh after coming face-to-face with an arch nemesis. I may browse through some of the other episodes of the series in the near future.
As I wrap up my ninth year of this blog, I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and a prosperous and happy New Year!
"Silver Blaze" has long been a favorite story among readers, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle counted it as one of his favorite Holmes stories. The story contains a bit of dialogue that is often quoted to demonstrate the details Holmes catches that other mere mortals usually miss.
“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
The Granada adaptation of "Silver Blaze" is an exceptionally well done presentation of the story. I can only imagine that this particular episode cost a bundle to make: lots of extras, location shooting on the moors, and many horses, could not have been cheap. But the result is admirable. Jeremy Brett is often at his best. He is in fine fettle throughout the episode, and constantly finds glee in keeping a step ahead of all the other characters. (The flourish when he finally reveals Silver Blaze is particularly enjoyable.)
The costumes bring Sidney Paget's original artwork to life, as the Granada series often did so very well. Probably the best example of a perfect costume is Holmes's hooded coat and deerstalker cap, done in what looks to be a light grey gabardine. The costume designer clearly had studied Paget's illustrations very carefully.
The supporting cast does a fine job as well. In "Silver Blaze" we are introduced to one of the very few representatives of the official police department who manages to impress Sherlock Holmes most of the time: Inspector Gregory. As Holmes describes him, “Inspector Gregory, to whom the case has been committed, is an extremely competent officer. Were he but gifted with imagination he might rise to great heights in his profession." The actor who plays Gregory, Malcolm Storry, does a very fine job portraying a competent, if a bit unimaginative, detective who clearly wants to impress Holmes. And there's a very impressive scene between Holmes and Silas Brown that is only described by Holmes in the source material, in which Brett and Russell Hunter excel. Peter Barkworth's presents a Colonel Ross who is suitably pompous and dismissive of the great detective, only to become rather fawning when he realizes how Holmes has saved his bacon.
Overall, I found the adaptation to be one of the more enjoyable episodes in the Granada series thus far. It was great to watch such a popular story brought to life in such an entertaining fashion. The episode contains many of the elements that made the series such a hit with so many Sherlock Holmes fans. Highly recommended!
[Originally posted on 2/19/2014]
When I think back to my preteen years, when I first discovered Sherlock Holmes, the story that immediately jumps out in my memory is "The Adventure of the Dancing Men." The idea of Holmes solving a secret picture code appealed to my young imagination. Right around the same age, I had read J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, and had learned as much as I could about the runes on the map to the Misty Mountain. I used to try to write my name in runes, based on the little I could glean from Tolkien's novel and an encyclopedia article I found on runes. I don't know if I ever tried writing any messages in the Dancing Men code, but I bet there are all kinds of Sherlockians, young and old, who have done so.
I also remember poring over the Adventures, Memoirs, and Return of Sherlock Holmes, as well as The Hound of the Baskervilles, as they appeared in The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes (it had a different cover design from the one pictured here, but it was essentially the same one, with all of the Paget illustrations). My parents had bought me the collection when I began to show interest in the Holmes stories. As I recall, it took me a little while to realize that there were more Holmes adventures beyond the ones in that collection. In the days before Wikipedia, I compared the Illustrated Holmes with my grandpa's Complete Sherlock Holmes (the one by Doubleday, with the preface by Christopher Morley). In a sense, my search for the "complete" stories and novels was my own youthful "detective investigation."
And then I remember clearly the excitement of first reading A Study in Scarlet: here at last I was discovering the genesis of the characters I had come to know and love. I marked in pencil some of the passages that stood out to me: Holmes's theory of the mind as an "attic," Watson's list of Holmes's limitations, and Holmes's dismissal of the importance of astronomy. I'm sure lots of Sherlockians can recite it from memory:
“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently: “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”
I have to admit, these recent weeks of "rediscovering" my interest in Sherlock Holmes, and working on this very blog, have allowed me to recapture some of the wonder and excitement I had thirty-odd years ago, discovering it all for the very first time. I suppose that's part of why Sherlockians end up gathering in their various societies and groups: they love to share that excitement, and hopefully to pass it on to the next generation. It's part of why I've been so thrilled with the recent resurgence in Holmes adaptations. The idea of a new generation discovering Holmes through the movies and TV shows is something that I find very fulfilling to contemplate. As it has been for over a hundered years, the game is afoot! And always will be...
Dear reader, Baker Street Babble has been here on Weebly for almost 9 years. When I first started the blog, Weebly was a very user-friendly blogging platform that allowed me to set up the blog just as I liked it. However, over the past several years, Weebly has been bought by Square and as a result, has changed its focus to more of an e-commerce platform. I've still been able to continue the blog, albeit with a few long breaks here and there. But the time has come for me to try out a different platform, something that will be easy to use and easy to read.
So, at the moment, I'm experimenting with a new, simpler format for Baker Street Babble on Tumblr. I have used Tumblr for other blogging for a very long time now; one of my first blogs was on Tumblr! I'm including a link below to the new blog, which is still under construction, as they say. I'll try several blog posts, which I'll put up here and over on Tumblr, and see which platform ends up working best for me. If I decide that it's much easier to simply remain here on Weebly, then that's what I'll do. If the Tumblr version works better, then I will let everyone know, and this version of the blog will probably end up becoming an Archive.
As I work on trying out the new platform, I would certainly appreciate any feedback anyone may be willing to leave. Thanks for reading!
I'm a stay-at-home dad, and Director of Music Ministries at a United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, TN, and a longtime fan of Mr. Sherlock Holmes.