Who cares if BBC’s two-disc “Sherlock Holmes” set comes late to the release party spurred by last Christmas’ Robert Downey Jr. blockbuster reboot? At least it’s here, and I thought it was lost forever.
To be specific, this “Sherlock” is the short-lived 1964-65 BBC series starring Douglas Wilmer as the master detective and Nigel Stock as his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson. Only 13 episodes were made, but only 11 of those have survived, all of which appear here.
The joy is that unlike the better-known, longer-running series starring Ronald Howard, this one uses Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories as the source material for each episode. No futzing around with new plotlines here. Serving as highlights are the pilot, “The Speckled Band,” which comes from my all-time favorite Holmes story, and the somewhat silly, but simply entertaining “The Red-Headed League.” All resonate with a mannered, buttoned-up level of mystery and intrigue.
Wilmer makes for an excellent Holmes, playing these adventures smart and straight, with the right amount of panache to satisfy purists. And it’s likely purists who will enjoy this most; because the video and audio quality is far from pristine, you’ll really want to see them to bear with the A/V deficiencies. That’s not a case of BBC doing bad, but making do, preserving treasures of the past with the technology of the present. —Rod Lott