This is a must see for Sherlockians and uninitiated alike. 'The Return of Sherlock Holmes', (as with the 'Adventures'), contain some of the best episodes of the Granada TV series. The writers stick closely to the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle and when they do depart there is good dramatic reason. Jeremy Brett continues to dazzle as Sherlock Holmes despite difficulties in his private life at this time, and Edward Hardwicke's Watson (incidentally, whose father Sir Cedric Hardwicke played Holmes once upon a time) is just as intelligent and warm as his predecessor David Burke in the 'Adventures'. Yes, Watson IS intelligent, contrary to very unfair previous portrayals. Hardwicke's style is more naturalistic and perfectly complements Brett's expansive theatrics.
The lively 221b Baker Street set is a delight, and the music must be given special mention, as it is excellent. Patrick Gowers takes the Baker Street theme and embellishes and embroiders it to suit the mood and tone of each episode. He is able to vary it from choral to Renaissance to concerto style effortlessly. The supporting cast is usually strong, though sometimes there will be the odd one who overdoes it a bit. But you cannot accuse anyone involved in these productions with half-heartiness.
Cracks only begin to show in the last few episodes of the series from 'The Devil's Foot' onwards, filmed after Brett experienced a mental breakdown. He seems to lose some of his energy and lustre, but the effect is that of an older, wiser and more compassionate version of the Great Detective, who is so often described as being cold.
All in all, I highly recommend this series; you will never see such a happy combination of good screenplay, music, costumes, set design and of course excellent actors in the same production of the adventures of the elusive Sherlock Holmes.
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