Sep. 23rd, 2013

underthewillows: (Default)
Original radio broadcast 1994, “The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes”. Have just listened to the audiobooks version of “The Lion’s Mane” and can’t stop laughing.

Bert Coules (God preserve the man) takes the plot skeleton of the story (basically ‘X is dead, who killed X?’) and throws the entire rest of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s version away.

Instead, we get Holmes and Watson being delightful :-) It’s set post-retirement, so Holmes is bee-keeping in his cottage on the Sussex Downs while Watson has re-married and is still in practice up in London. This adaptation would have them in their mid- to late-fifties.

Back when I was first reading the stories at age fifteen, fifty seemed ancient to me, so I could accept that Holmes was retired but why then wasn’t Watson living in the cottage with him? Now that I’m *ahem* nearer the age range myself, I quite see why Watson is still working and why he wonders at Holmes taking early retirement.

Never mind the plot (it’s a very thin one and depends on a twist ending); Coules certainly doesn’t bother with it anymore than he can help. Instead, he gives us:

• A “Star Trek” reference!
• A “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” reference! (I nearly spontaneously combusted when Holmes said "Open Channel D")
• A reference to “The Shadow”! (pulp detective and radio show character in the 1930s, made into a movie with Alec Baldwin in 1994)
• The William Gillette play!
• The actors playing Holmes and Watson acting as Holmes and Watson acting as Holmes and Watson! (see the context of the William Gillette play)
• The Llama/Lama joke!
• Re-enactment of a witness questioning scene with Watson in the part of Holmes and Holmes in the part of the lady!
• Holmes (not so) slightly sulking because Watson only comes down on the odd weekend, so he makes sure Watson knows he’s got heaps of new friends now, you know!
• Watson (not so) slightly jealous of all these alleged new friends and oh yeah, well, you don’t need me anymore, do you, so?
• A possible hint as to where Anderson (the name and the character) came from in “Sherlock” the BBC television version, which if so, is really commendable research as this is one of the very minor late stories!
• Meta about fiction versus reality (works whether you’re a Watsonian or a Doylist!)

This episode is pure fanservice. Clive Merrison and the late Michael Williams are plainly having loads of fun and they really do get across the impression of a friendship and partnership that has lasted, grown and developed over a quarter of a century.

So, if you don’t want to think of “His Last Bow” as the very end of our dear friends’ association and you do want to imagine Holmes and Watson post-retirement, Holmes pottering around with his bees and Watson coming down for weekend sleepovers, this is the one for you!

And somebody get Bert Coules on the Honours List because the man deserves at least a CBE for this episode alone!
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