Photo from here.
Yesterday evening I wanted something on television while I turned a heel and picked The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes on ITV 3. The episode was The Speckled Band and this morning I read the story again. (The Adventures was one of the first free downloads I put on my Kindle.) What struck me was how closely that series followed Conan Doyle’s story, even using chunks of dialogue as originally written.
I learned from Faulks on Fiction that in 1927 Conan Doyle made a list of his favourite Holmes stories with The Speckled Band at number one. It made good TV, Jeremy Brett was perfect in the role as we all know, but reading the story is better. Strangely, though, I didn’t find it as horrifying as I remembered it. I wonder if this is because we tend to read Sherlock Holmes for the first time when we’re quite young and later get hardened to worse horrors? It remains a classic ‘closed room’ mystery and worth reading for that alone. Watching Sherlock has made me more aware of Holmes’s ‘showing off’, as the modern Watson calls it, when he makes rapid deductions which seem supernatural to the hearer until they are explained. So I smiled yesterday when Holmes informed his overwrought client that she had travelled by an early train after riding to the station in a dog cart. Somehow it makes Holmes seem more human and shows that the modern series is not only homage but also a form of lit.crit.