The World’s Greatest Detective Is Back
Tripwire continues its list of its Top 30 Crime and Police shows, selected by its editor-in-chief and senior editor. Here’s its 29th entry, Granada’s The Return Of Sherlock Holmes…
29. The Return Of Sherlock Holmes
Creator: John Hawkesworth
Stars: Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke
Sherlock Holmes is with little doubt the fictional creation with more adaptations than any other. Doyle’s protean stories and his archetypal protagonist have been seen on TV, film, radio and in comics countless times.
The Return of Sherlock Holmes follows on from the previous series, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which also starred Brett as the iconic detective. It picks up a number of years after Holmes’ fateful tumble off the The Reichenbach Falls after tangling with his adversary Moriarty.
Watson, having carried on working with the London police is more than a little surprised to see the reappearance of his old friend, who he assumed had perished in Switzerland – inevitably the pair pick up where they left off, routinely solving cases that have rival detectives bemused and baffled.
In more recent years, viewers have been used to a more eccentric Holmes, primarily in the shape of Benedict Cumberbatch, but Brett’s finessed characterization is a model of precision, and more theatrical. He expertly exhibits his virtuoso abilities with this character, able to move from detached and logical to idiosyncratically human. There is a dark, layered intensity to Brett’s Holmes, obsessed with getting to the truth of every case, while Hardwicke is a great foil for Brett as the more pedestrian partner in this detecting duo.
This run is also brimming with a raft of veteran British character actors like Patrick Allen, Michael Culver, Patricia Hodge and Denis Quilley. Colin Jeavons as Holmes’ adversary Inspector Lestrade and Denis Lill as fellow policeman Inspector Bradstreet round out the ensemble.
The series, as with such costume dramas, makes the most of the country houses and villages scattered around England too. While Brett returned once more to play the detective in the Casebook of Sherlock Holmes in the 1990s, there is a stately quality to The Return that is never quite repeated.
Many actors have played Holmes over the years, including iconic turns such as Basil Rathbone, Robert Stephens, Peter Cushing and Christopher Plummer, but Brett made the role his own, bringing something unique and off-kilter to the part that has yet to be surpassed. For a generation, he was Sherlock Holmes.
The Return Of Sherlock Holmes is on now on ITV4 in the UK and on Amazon Prime and Britbox in the US