The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984)

Season 7 Episode 2

The Dying Detective

Aired Tuesday 9:00 PM Mar 14, 1994 on ITV

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • One of the finest episodes of the entire Granada Sherlock Holmes series....

    ...."The Dying Detective" is based on Doyle's short story of the same name (from the "His Last Bow" collection). However, only the episode's final act has any direct correlation to Doyle's short story (too short a story to fill an hour by itself); the rest of the plot is a wonderful expansion of the original story. Holmes and Watson investigate the actions of Victor Savage, whose drug habit and lifestyle which seems enabled by his cousin Mr. Culverton Smith has worried Mrs. Savage to death. When Victor Savage dies of a disease of which Mr. Smith is the lone expert on, Holmes and Watson suspect foul play. Their suspicions gain merit when Holmes himself becomes prey to symptoms of the disease....

    Jeremy Brett had been playing Sherlock Holmes on screen for about 10 years before "The Dying Detective" aired and he lost none of the original spark that makes his Holmes one of the bests ever. Much older than when he first jumped into the shoes of Doyle's eccentric detective, Brett's energy, humor and intensity carried through from the first "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" episode to the final chapter of "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes." Brett shines here in "The Dying Detective" through the way he portrays the general genius of the master detective as well as when he is called upon to play a dying man. The rest of the cast is rounded out nicely - Edward Hardwicke gives a great performance as Watson, guest Susannah Harker is very moving in her portrayal of Mrs. Savage and Jonathan Hyde gives one of the best villainous performances of the entire Granada Sherlock Holmes series.

    The cast and story is great but what makes "The Dying Detective" an especially great Sherlock Holmes screen adaptation is the great style. Director Sarah Hellings conducts the camera beautifully and paints the screen with an exquisite lighting and color scheme. The second episode of the final chapter to the Granada Sherlock Holmes series fittingly titled "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes," "The Dying Detective" feels more like an excellent shorter film than a television episode and is one of the finest singular Arthur Conan Doyle adaptations of the long-running Brett-starred series.
  • An refreshingly riveting episode. We are taken to the opium houses in Olde London, and Culverton Smith is as despicable as any villain in the series.

    After a few clunkers in the season preceding this, 'Sherlock Holmes (1984)' comes roaring back to life in a big way. The classic story of Holmes trying to prove Culverton Smith murdered his cousin is given a super makeover. I feel that producers of any form of literary work in recent years, (as opposed to 100 years earlier), have a distinct advantage. As our values about censorship and taboo subjects have relaxed and broadened, a story can be more colorfully presented, and more detail can be explored. Issues like sex and drugs in particular, are much less limited by social etiquette. This installment is a good example of that.
    Jeremy Brett is at his energetic best here, boisterously arguing with Watson, Smith, and Mrs. Hudson, among others, and seemingly enjoying the role with renewed vigor. This side of Holmes was not as evident in the original story, which deals more with Watson's concern for his friend's sickly condition. Here, more time is given to the background of the victim and his wife, which nicely develops into Holmes vs. Smith. A very welcome return to form.