Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wilmer's TWIS, BERY, and CHAS

These episodes are on the first side of the second disc in this set. Watson still seems to be unmarried and living with Holmes in Baker Street, so the writers have eliminated the scenes about Isa Whitney the opium addict in TWIS. However, one of Kate Whitney's lines is given to Mrs. St. Clair in another context.

TWIS begins with Hugh Boone leaving the opium den with a limp. While he is begging on Threadneedle Street, he gets into an argument with a snooty gentleman who reminds him that begging is illegal. Boone counters that he's actually selling vestas, but the man indignantly calls for a police constable anyway. Later at the police station, an unnamed desk sergeant reads the charges to Boone, who still complains but pays his bail money in pennies and half pennies.

In the afternoon, Mrs. St. Clair is at a shipping office collecting a package of diamonds sent by her uncle in South Africa. Like in the story, we never hear her own first name. She asks the clerk for directions from the office, and he warns her that Upper Swandam Lane is a bad neighborhood, and she should get a cab instead. However, she is unable to get a cab and starts following his directions through Swandam Lane, but suddenly she spots her husband Neville in the upper window of the opium den. Here the lascar is named Aziz, and his assistant is Ling. They argue with Mrs. St. Clair until Aziz shoves her out the door. Crying, she runs away until she meets Inspector Bradstreet and a bunch of constables.

Meanwhile Hugh Boone hides most of the clothes in a cabinet and then, when he is warned by Ling about the police, he actually climbs out the window and runs away along the shore; it seems to be low tide now, and he has to struggle through the mud and the docks. Bradstreet and Mrs. St. Clair force their way into the opium den and up the stairs. Spotting Boone from the window, Bradstreet sends constables out to capture him, while Mrs. St. Clair discovers the toy bricks that Neville was supposed to buy that day. She faints.

At Baker Street, Watson is present while Holmes interviews Mrs. St. Clair. She says that Boone has been arrested and Inspector Lestrade has taken over the case. Holmes and Watson debate whether the beggar could have murdered Neville, then question Mrs. St. Clair about their home life in Kent. Back at the police station, the same desk sergeant brings Boone to see Lestrade, who asks where the body is. They have found Neville's clothes in the room, and Lestrade warns that "circumstantial evidence can send you to the gallows!" Next, Holmes and Watson arrive at the opium den, and they discuss the sinister history of the Bar of Gold. Inside, they meet Lestrade, who guides them upstairs to examine the evidence. On the shore below, the police discover the coat laden with pennies in the pockets, and Lestrade proposes the theory that Holmes had in the TWIS story--that the beggar threw out the body and was going to stuff all the clothes with pennies before he was interrupted.

Holmes isn't satisfied, though, so he decides to investigate the den again. However, he tells Watson that he wants to work alone and that he's actually going to investigate in Kent, using the guest room that Mrs. St. Clair made available. So Watson goes home to Baker Street, reading De Quincey's book about opium. However, Mrs. St. Clair arrives one night, saying that Holmes had only stayed one night at her house and she hasn't heard any news for a week. Watson realizes that Holmes must be at the opium den, so he rushes off in a cab. Thus the writers have successfully converted Watson's errand for Kate Whitney into his rushing to rescue Holmes from danger. Very good, and it is in character for Holmes to lie that way.

Holmes is in disguise, right under the lascar's nose. After he joins Watson outside, they walk several streets away before Holmes laughs and removes his disguise. Watson is not amused, but joins Holmes on a carriage. Holmes explains that he had hoped to overhear some useful ramblings from the opium takers, but got nowhere. They arrive in Kent, and Mrs. St. Clair is home again, at first mistaking Watson for Neville in the shadows. (What a relief! Some sexist Sherlockians imply that she was only waiting expectantly for Holmes, not her husband, because she's out to seduce Holmes! Stupid nonsense.) Anyway, she lets them inside, and soon reveals the letter that she just received from Neville. Holmes examines the letter and envelope, but Watson suggests that it could be a forgery. She says that Neville's signet ring was enclosed, and Holmes questions her further. Then he says they'll go to bed now, and Watson is disappointed that they won't get to have dinner. Watson reluctantly retires to bed while Holmes settles on cushions on the floor, preparing for his night of smoking.

The next morning, Holmes wakes Watson at 4:24 and says that he's solved the case. They get dressed and leave with a gladstone bag. At the police station, they wake up the desk sergeant at 5:35, too early to see either Inspector Bradstreet or Lestrade. The sergeant takes them to Boone's cell, and Holmes washes his face with the bath sponge from his bag. Thus Neville is discovered and argues that he should be released. The sergeant is astonished, and Neville soon becomes worried about what his wife and children will think. Later, Neville is dressed as a gentleman while Holmes and Watson take him by carriage back to Kent. Neville explains his history as a journalist and then a beggar. Holmes insists that Neville tell his wife the truth, and reminds him that the police will only hush the matter up if he gives up begging. Neville promises and then goes to greet his happy wife at the door. Holmes and Watson then drive home to Baker Street for a late breakfast.

BERY begins at night at Alexander Holder's house, implying that the royal client didn't want to be recognized at the bank when he brought the coronet. This does make more sense than the banker bringing the coronet home instead of trusting his bank's vault; however it still doesn't explain why he chooses to lock it in an insecure rolltop desk instead of a safe. It's even in a drawing room on the ground floor, right near the front door of the house. (In the story, the coronet was put in a locked bureau near Holder's bedroom.)

Meanwhile, Holder's son Arthur is gambling at a club with Sir George Burnwell, who refuses to help when Arthur loses heavily to Hector. Arthur talks Hector into accepting an I.O.U. for now, then gets drunk. He returns home and tries to propose to his cousin Mary in the drawing room, but she refuses him again. Alexander overhears them but changes the subject. Mary rings for the maid Lucy to bring food, and Holder tells them the story of the coronet, even taking it out to show them. What an idiotic fool he is! Arthur warns his father that any old key will fit in the lock, but Holder insists that burglars won't know it's there in the first place. He sends Mary out to make sure all the windows and doors are locked, and she sees Lucy sneak outside.

Holder then lectures his son against gambling at the club, and he refuses to loan Arthur any money for his debts. He angrily leaves for bed, while Mary calls Lucy inside from meeting her boyfriend. Arthur turns out all the lights and retires at nearly 11:30. Ten minutes after midnight, Holder wakes to a creeping sound, so he gets up and lights a lamp. He discovers Arthur downstairs in the drawing room, trying to untwist the coronet. Arthur doesn't realize that three beryls are missing until his father points it out and accuses him of being a thief. As they argue, Mary arrives and faints when she sees the coronet. She's conscious again when the police take Arthur away in handcuffs.

The next day, Holder consults Holmes and Watson at Baker Street, and soon they go to the house in Streatham. Holmes investigates outside, where he discovers multiple footprints, more specifically shoe prints rather than bare feet prints. You'd think that would be enough evidence to tell Holder or the police that someone else was involved. Inside, Mary is begging Sir George to help Arthur, but he says he can't do anything. Holder and Watson walk in on them, and Sir George says that he just came to visit Arthur. Holder is cold to him until Sir George leaves. Holmes watches him go just as he is examining a pile of sand with more prints. When he goes inside, he questions Mary, who tries to throw suspicion on Lucy and her sweetheart the greengrocer. Holmes looks at the coronet, but unlike in the story, he does not attempt to rip another piece off of it. Then Holmes examines the window and confirms that Arthur was barefoot last night. Finally he says that he and Watson are returning to London, and he assures Holder that Arthur is innocent.

Without explanation, Watson returns to Baker Street alone, and yells at a "common loafer" who appears to be stealing food in the sitting-room. Holmes reveals himself and says he's going out. Watson wants to help, and Holmes actually gives him a task, unlike in the story. Watson goes to the police station to examine Arthur's hands for any cuts. Arthur is hostile and bewildered by the examination. Meanwhile, Holmes visits Burnwell's house and meets the sole servant Gregory, who is polishing the silver in the kitchen. Holmes offers to polish the boots, but then Sir George rings the bell and orders sandwiches. Gregory explains that most of the servants left because Sir George ran out of money and cannot pay anybody, even though he keeps up the pretense of a lavish life. While Gregory departs to serve champagne, Holmes wraps up two boots in newspaper and leaves. When Gregory finds him gone, he quickly begins counting the silver, in case any of it was stolen.

At home, Mary and her uncle worry about Arthur, and Holder wishes that Mary had accepted the proposal. He says that he realizes that Mary doesn't love Arthur, but that in time she could grow to love him. (Whoa, way to be insensitive!) After Holder leaves for bed, Mary starts writing a letter. No longer in disguise, Holmes returns to Baker Street for more beef and to hear Watson's report from jail. Holmes explains that he found some drops of blood in that pile of sand in the garden; therefore someone must have been cut. Holmes leaves with the boots, and compares them to the shoe prints at Streatham. Then he goes to the police station to see Arthur's bare foot. Arthur is still confused, even more so when Holmes says that he's innocent and will soon be free.

Finally Holmes returns to Burnwell's house, and Gregory does not recognize him, though he does notice the boots and complains in outrage. Sir George arrives, and Holmes mentions the jewels as well as the cut on Burnwell's hand. So George sends Gregory away and pretends that he only just now learned of the robbery at Holder's house. Holmes demands the jewels back, and Sir George tries to attack him with a cane, but Holmes pulls a gun. (We don't get a suggestion that Holmes had to pay him any money, nor that Burnwell had already sold the jewels on to another party, as in the story.)

The next day, Holmes and Watson return to Holder's house. Holder tells them that Mary left last night, and they read her guilty letter of farewell. Holmes says she doesn't intend suicide, then he reveals that he has the missing jewels. Even Watson looks surprised, and Holder returns the jewels to the damaged coronet. But why on earth would he still keep that box in the drawing room? You'd think he'd have learned his lesson and moved it to the bank vault by now. Anyway, Holmes says that Arthur will be set free this morning, and he tells how the robbery really happened. (He says, "last night" but clearly means two nights ago.) We flashback to Arthur hearing Mary sneak downstairs that night. He followed and witnessed her helping Sir George steal the coronet. Arthur saw them kiss, then followed Sir George outside and fought with him until he got the coronet. Meanwhile Sir George's hand was cut, and when he bent to get his hat, he noticed the dropped piece with three jewels. He picked it up with a smile, while Arthur tried to restore the coronet inside the house. Thus Holder discovered his son in the drawing room.

Holder is upset to learn of Mary's treachery, and Holmes declares ominously that Mary will receive ample punishment for her sins by running off to Sir George. (He does not specify whether Mary will be forced into becoming George's maid, or pimped out, or what.)

Finally we begin CHAS with a background story about Lady Farningham being blackmailed for a scandal that is both political and sexual. Apparently in a letter to her lover, she mentioned the fact that her husband had a meeting about a secret treaty with Arabia. As a result of this indiscretion, Turkish troops have invaded Arabia, and there is a threat of war. Lady Farningham tries to buy the letters back, but Milverton's standard price of 7,000 guineas is too high for her. He gives her only three days to get it, and she leaves.

Then Milverton buys a new set of letters from an army officer just back from India. Captain Fitzallen had promised to deliver them to Lady Eva Brackwell, but instead has betrayed Lady Eva's lover Captain Peter Whitney. Thus Lady Eva consults Holmes about how Milverton came to her house to blackmail her. She is indignant and claims that the letters she wrote were merely copied out of romance novels; she doesn't dare to show them to her fiancé because she wrote him the same words that she'd written to Whitney. Holmes persuades Lady Eva that she must be willing to negotiate with Milverton, so she reluctantly agrees to pay 2,000 pounds.

Very oddly, Holmes meets Milverton at his house the first time, and without Watson. Holmes even meets Agatha the maid while he's there, and in the study, he has half the conversation that he normally has. Milverton won't accept the lower price, and he explains that making an example of Lady Eva will benefit his other cases. He also hints at the case of Lady Farningham, which will come to fruition on Tuesday morning. On that Tuesday, Lady Farningham tries to prevent her husband receiving the letter from Milverton, but she fails, and Lord Farningham kills himself, to her horror and grief.

When Holmes and Watson read of the suicide, they realize what Milverton meant. Holmes makes his speech about being repulsed by Milverton. Then Milverton arrives to see if they have changed their minds after the suicide. They quickly try to steal the letters from him, and Holmes only comes up with an unrelated piece of paper. What a very poor plan; on the spur of the moment, it was more understandable. Still, Watson looks so great, ready to attack him with a chair. Milverton draws his gun and leaves scornfully.

So Holmes embarks on a new plan. We see him in disguise, very similar to his "common loafer" look, sitting on a park bench with Agatha. She calls him Sidney Escott and doesn't recognize him from before. Agatha starts to leave for home, but he stalls her by asking for a kiss. He does not look comfortable at it, and keeps asking how often Milverton has late night visitors. She also tells him how many servants live in the house and how Milverton sleeps soundly away from all the servants. She finally decides to go home, to not get into trouble about being out late.

Thus Holmes tells Watson about his engagement, and Watson protests that he went too far. Holmes insists that it was necessary and mentions the hated rival. Lady Eva visits again, complaining that time has almost run out. They assure her and send her away. Once alone again, Holmes mentions his plan of burglary, and Watson of course won't let him go alone. They prepare for their mission, and Holmes predicts that they should return successfully at 2 AM. Wearing their masks, they break into the house and creep into Milverton's study. Watson discovers that the veranda door was unlocked the whole time, and Holmes opens the safe. Poor Watson gets so nervous that he chews on his handkerchief. When they hear Milverton approach and greet the cat, they hide behind the curtains. Milverton sits at his desk, and then his visitor arrives. He starts to talk to her as Elsie Robinson, but then she reveals herself as Lady Farningham. He threatens to call his servants, but she shoots him, then stomps his face before leaving.

We even get a glimpse up in the attic of Agatha waking from the gunshots, but a male servant tells her to stay in bed, then goes with Ted to investigate. Holmes and Watson hurriedly burn the letters from the safe, then run outside. They get chased to the wall, and Watson kicks away the man who grabbed his leg.

The next morning at Baker Street, Holmes writes a letter to Lady Eva telling her that all is well. He sends it just as Lestrade arrives. He tries to consult Holmes about the murder, and Watson looks nervous when footprints are mentioned. Holmes refuses the case, and Lestrade almost catches Holmes smiling about it. There is no extra scene about Holmes looking for Lady Farningham's portrait, because I assume they already recognized her during the murder.

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