"The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" is a perennial favorite among Sherlockians, no doubt due to its setting "the second morning after Christmas." It's short, easy-to-read tale that sends Holmes and Watson on what looks like it could become a literal wild goose chase. The Granada adaptation captures much of the fun of the original story (despite its rather silly opening sequence that shows the violent history of the jewel in the title). This is also an example of one of several cases in which Holmes simply lets the villain go at the end, a questionable ethical decision at best.
The adaptation follows the beats of the story fairly closely. It fleshes out the story of the man who has been wrongly accused of the theft of the Blue Carbuncle with a few effective scenes involving John Horner and his family. We are even treated to a happy scene at the end of the episode in which Horner is reunited with his family. And there's a lovely little arrangement of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" in the score, which quite deftly intertwines with the main theme melody of the series. A very nice musical moment, to be sure.
There were three scenes I particularly enjoyed, the first being Holmes' s deductions about the bowler hat belonging to Mr. Henry Baker. Jeremy Brett is delightful in the scene, as he smokes his cigarette and issues forth on the deduced history of the hat. The other scene is when Holmes and Watson bring the real villain, James Ryder, back to the flat at 221B, and Jeremy Brett produces the Blue Carbuncle "from thin air" with a dramatic flourish. It's very entertaining watching Holmes have a little fun at a bad guy's expense. Finally, when Holmes lets Ryder go, his quiet disgust followed by a brief outburst of rage is complemented nicely by David Burke's reaction as Watson.
Apart from the aforementioned cheesy opening sequence, this episode is one of the more enjoyable ones I've seen. It's funny, with good pacing, and really entertaining from top to bottom. Furthermore, it's a great episode to watch during the Christmas season, which I did a couple months ago, and which was what gave me the idea to review the entire series! Definitely a must-see adaptation for any Sherlockian...
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.