And I'm back, after a most enjoyable Holy Week and Easter Sunday! Speaking of "resurrection"...
Sherlock Holmes is back for the second series from Granada TV, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes and Edward Hardwicke taking over the role of Dr. John Watson from the inimitable David Burke. I'm sure Sherlockians weren't the only viewers who knew what was coming up in this pivotal episode, and adaptation of "The Empty House." There are no surprises here, especially when the series has the word "Return" right in its title!
Other than the slight detail of giving Watson a more active role in the case of the murder of Ronald Adair, the episode follows the original source material very closely. After an opening sequence that is a bit slow, dramatically speaking, we are treated to Holmes's surprise appearance in Watson's office, as he suddenly transforms from the old book seller into the great detective, causing Watson to faint "for the first and the last time in my life," as Watson puts it in the story. For me (and no doubt, for most viewers) this reunion scene was the main source of enjoyment. Much of the story is told in flashbacks, as Holmes relates what really happened at the Reichenbach Falls. Indeed, if one looks very closely, one can see that all the wide shots of Watson searching in vain for his friend are actually shots of David Burke playing the role in the previous season.
There's a very brief but very emotionally stirring moment during the flashback, when Jeremy Brett as Holmes just begins to shout out Watson's name, but immediately stops himself. It's a beautiful little detail that shows the deep fondness Holmes feels for his friend. Indeed, Watson's response to hearing that Holmes has kept the secret of his survival for THREE YEARS is remarkably gentle. It wouldn't be any stain on Watson's character if he had been just a bit angrier. However, Edward Hardwicke does show a bit of sadness, as he tells Holmes that he believes he could have been at least as deserving of Sherlock's confidence as his brother Mycroft.
Concerning Edward Hardwicke, he really did do a fine job at stepping into a role that had been played so capably by David Burke. Perhaps because Brett was already so comfortable in the role of Holmes, Hardwicke was able to make the transition into Watson's role as smoothly as possible. I still prefer Burke just a bit, but it will be interesting to watch the process of Hardwicke bringing his own skill set into the production. Certainly, by the end of the Granada series, Hardwicke was able to play Watson in a far greater number of adventures than his predecessor.
While it wasn't the most exciting episode I've seen thus far, "The Empty House" was a perfectly respectable way to begin the next phase of the Granada productions. And as I've mentioned, the joy of watching the Holmes/Watson duo resume their partnership was definitely worth the time I spent watching. Enjoy watching the YouTube video shared below! Once again, the game is afoot!
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.