"The Adventure of the Crooked Man," one of the stories from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes collection, is certainly not one of the more memorable Holmes mysteries. After all, there is precious little deduction involved in the solving of the crime (which really turns out to be no crime at all). Half of the story is Holmes narrating the basic facts of the case which he's gathered to Watson. They travel to Aldershot to interview Henry Wood (the "crooked man" of the title), he confesses exactly what happened, Holmes gives a brief Scripture reference, and that's it. (It's an analogy to the story of David and Bathsheba, found in 2 Samuel, in case anyone wants to look it up.)
So I guess it's not too surprising that the writers of this episode found it necessary to change the flow of the story rather considerably. Much of the episode is told in flashbacks, the longest of which is Henry's "confession," performed to great dramatic effect by Norman Jones. Holmes and Watson are fairly unimportant to the story. Rather than narrating much of the story to Watson at the good doctor's home late at night, the writers choose to have Watson accompany Holmes in all his investigation, a wise choice, given the nature of the story.
I found the drama of the episode engaging enough; indeed, it was far more interesting to watch than it was to read. However, considering Holmes and Watson's limited involvement in the telling of the story, it wasn't much of a "Holmes adventure." Still, there were a few little details that were enjoyable enough. The aforementioned performance by Norman Jones was quite good, and I was interested in Fiona Shaw's minor role as Miss Morrison, a friend to the unfortunate Nancy Barclay, whose husband's murder is the case under investigation. Harry Potter fans will recognize Ms. Shaw as Harry's unpleasant aunt, among a number of her other well known roles.
Jeremy Brett's performance in this episode is a little odd: his surprisingly aggressive and unusual behavior as Major Murphy gives him the basic facts of the case is...unusual, to say the least. Through much of the episode, Brett displays a bit of a manic energy that is not really explained by the circumstances of the investigation. We are treated to a little scene at the end of the episode which has been added by the writers, wherein Watson does a bit of deduction himself, and gives Holmes a humorous, "Elementary, my dear Holmes," surely intended as a nod to the fans. I also smiled at a brief exchange in the middle of the episode, in which Holmes responds to Watson's theory of Col. Barclay being engaged in some "mild adultery." He sarcastically thanks his friend for "educating me in military morality." Snarky!
While not one of the more outstanding episodes from the Granada series, I still found it an enjoyable enough watch. If I had to assign it stars on a five-star scale, I'd probably give it a three...not incredible, but not completely a waste of my time, either. I'd love to hear from other Sherlockians what they think of this installment! Feel free to leave a comment.
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.