I've read almost all of Doyle's stories with the great detective and watched the different actors do their take on him but I never saw the Holmes from the stories that I had read. I enjoy Rathbone,Brett and the others as Holmes but they were never truly HIM. They tried to make him charming and likeable, neither of which was high on the great brains list of things to be admired for.
The Holmes from the stories could be an arrogant, self-absorbed , irritating git that had no problem whatsoever reminding people that he was a genius and that they should be in awe of his prowess as THE investigator. He took notice of others only if he was watching , interrogating, or lecturing them and took great pride in showing off his deductive reasoning. This pleased him as it enforced the idea that his methods were best and he enjoyed the admiring attention..He had a near complete lack of empathy and most emotions he displayed were only on the surface and fleeting at best.Doyle himself said that "Holmes is as inhuman as a Babbage's calculating machine... " ,He could use empathy and charm as a tool to get information that he needed but if he had to carry it on too long he became annoyed at the time he was wasting and dropped all pretenses to go straight for the answers he sought. I can only recall Watson observing deep emotion in Holmes once and that was when Watson himself was wounded.. ( The idea of how hard it was going to be to replace the admiring author of his chronicles and faithful leg man may have been the true cause of his distress. ) That's why I liked Holmes so much, he couldn't be bothered with being humble and relished the fear that his detective skills struck in the hearts of the evil doer. He was a puzzle solving machine that thrived on unsnarling tangled knots- the bigger the knot the more excited he became.
I have now placed my hands on a copy of the much dreaded version of " Hound of the Baskervilles" with Tom Baker as, of course, Sherlock Holmes. I have heard and read many bad things about this , including from Mr. Baker himself who states in his autobiography that he " couldn't lift the character into that special world that makes Holmes so funny and so fascinating" and that the B.B.C. made an apology for his performance in the Daily Telegraph. ( I haven't found this yet to see what was actually said and it annoys me to no end. I don't know why ) . Armed with this information and expecting the worst , I took off my rose-colored glasses and plunged in for a viewing.
Mr. Baker did say that Jeremy Brett was one his own favorites as Holmes and he liked the idea of the secret world of Holmes ,so I was expecting a pale imitation of the Brett version. Well, I didn't get Brett, What I got was Sherlock Holmes in all his unabashed , prideful glory and I was very pleasantly surprised . Here was the Holmes I had always imagined when reading,from the barely disguised amusement of watching Watson ponder the owner of the walking stick to the vain outrage at the idea that he would be considered second choice.He goes from angry, to dismissive , to self-satisfied ( AFTER a few ego strokes ) in a matter of moments and I have said so before and I will again-Mr. Baker is brilliant at these quick changes and a master of the subtle facial expressions. Which is a very good thing when playing the sleuth that holds his cards close to the chest. I'm not saying this was a perfect performance, it wasn't, but most of the awkward or stiffer moments seemed to be when two other major characters were involved. Watson ( Terence Rigby) and the servant Barrymore ( Morris Perry ) were wonderful ,but Sir Henry (Nicholas Woodson ) and Stapleton ( Chris Ravenscroft )were two huge thorns in the side of this adaption.
Woodson is the worst Sir Henry EVER. He isn't a very imposing man but some sort of screen presence and about 5 more inches in height would have helped. His lines sounded forced and he was struggling with his "Canadian" accent, which at times seemed to go on a full tour of the U.S.A..He evoked so little compassion for Henry that by the end I really didn't care if the hound ate him or not . I had a terrible time getting past the image of him being " thrown " at the dog. For a man about to be shredded by a huge hound he didn't look too alarmed but I suppose it's hard to ACT alarmed when you know that the dog isn't going to do anything but cover you in loving dollops of drool.
Ravenscroft(Stapleton) had horrid timing in delivering his lines and his melodramatic pauses made me insane. It was like the man was waiting for someone to step on his toe as a cue to say his line and then he had to think about what the line was.He ruined every scene he was in. Any person that had never read or seen this story could guess that he was the baddie in this- he was broadcasting it in every sly look and shifty move. Even Moriarty couldn't have been more obvious What a bad baddie. If the B.B.C. picked on Mr. Baker for his performance they should have taken this guy to the town square for a good pelting with rotten veggies.
Mr. Baker started his Holmes off with a bang, but the whole production went rapidly down hill as soon as the uninspiring victim and villain entered .Not even Tom Baker's great presence could overcome how badly those two dragged things along, but it's always the lead that gets the blame.Given a better supporting cast Mr. Baker's Sherlock would have been seen in a whole different light and with much better reviews- but I still liked his Holmes and I have MY reasons-so there !