Holmes is Where the Heart Is: Old-School Adaptations

Last entry, I discussed the more “modern” Sherlock Holmes adaptations: Sherlock Holmes (2010), BBC’s Sherlock (2010) and CBS’s Elementary (2012.) Now, I’m going to discuss three older adaptations: The Great Mouse Detective (1986), The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) and Granada Television's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series (1984.)

#3. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

Image from Amazon.ca

Image from Amazon.ca

Private Life is essentially a parody, featuring an idiotic, bumbling Watson (Colin Blakely) and a slightly more sensitive Holmes (Robert Stephens).

Holmes is given a case when a delirious woman named Gabrielle is brought to Baker Street. Together, Holmes, Watson, and Gabrielle work on her case, running into a cast of colourful characters–including  the Loch Ness monster.
It’s one of my favourite adaptations because of the dry humour, and I like that Gabrielle is not Holmes’s love-interest. Holmes doesn’t necessarily “win” in the end. As a Holmes adaptation, it shares some similarities to “The Bruce-Partington Plans” though it’s still rather removed  from the story, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.

#2. The Great Mouse Detective

Don’t let the cartoon mice fool you. The Great Mouse Detective is, in fact, heavily based on Sherlock Holmes , though it started as a series of children’s novels by Eve Titus called Basil of Baker Street, which first came out in 1958.

Although the film isn’t exactly based on a Holmes story, there are several clever nods to the canon series: including Basil’s housekeeper, Mrs Judson; (originally Mrs Hudson) Basil’s canine companion, Toby; (Holmes often made use of a hound named Toby) and Basil’s upstairs neighbours, (who share an uncanny resemblance to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson ).

The Great Mouse Detective was my first introduction to Holmes, and although I didn’t understand the references, I enjoyed it. Now that I’m older, I’m still able to enjoy the movie–maybe even moreso now that I understand the references. It’s cute, clever, and great  if you have children and don’t want to be subject to typical Disney-style musical numbers.

#1. The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes

If you’re looking for a television series that is the Sherlock Holmes stories come to life, Granada Television's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (starring David Burke and Edward Hardwicke as Watson, and Jeremy Brett as Holmes) fits the bill. To me, Jeremy Brett is Sherlock Holmes; he’s who I picture when I read the original stories. He’s sharp, a little bit weird, a little bit grumpy, but has a sense of humour and is capable of expressing sympathy for others. The episodes are straight-up adaptions of the original stories, the first being A Scandal in Bohemia and, in my opinion, the best version of Irene Adler to date.

In my opinion, Granada is the best adaptation currently available. Jeremy Brett was a brilliant actor. He made Holmes his own while still staying committed to the original stories, and it shows.



Kora Burnham 

Kora is a self-proclaimed paper and book hoarder. She enjoys horseback riding and doing farm work. She was saved by a llama once. She likes to read, write, drink tea, listen to music, play video games, and watch television. Occasionally, she takes naps.  

Links: Twitter || Blog || GoodReads