Friday, April 25, 2014

New Russian Holmes

I recently learned that the new Russian TV series is available with English subtitles on YouTube, so I just watched the first episode. I will have to go back and watch the other episodes later, and I hope the show eventually becomes available for purchase on DVD.

I think the show compares very favorably to the earlier Soviet series starring Livanov and Solomin. The earlier series is very slashy, and I wish it were more widely available.

At first I was disappointed that the new show cast an older actor as Watson, but he certainly doesn't act old. He's quite spry and an expert boxer, so much so that he knocks down Holmes a few times when they have their "lesson" in Baker Street. Later, Watson also gets to defeat a much larger boxer in the ring, when he's trying to protect Holmes. (Holmes gives the alias "Basil Rathbone" to the man arranging the fight.) Watson sometimes is too passive in scenes, though, and he seems out of it at other times when he slips into his war trauma. (The English subtitles seem to refer to it as him being "concussed" and they change Watson's war history somewhat, by saying that Watson was captured at Maiwand but managed to escape with the help of Peter Small, instead of the orderly Murray.) It's a shame that this Watson actor died, for I enjoyed his performance a lot.

As for the mystery, it's an interesting rearrangement and expansion of "The Adventure of Black Peter" with the villainous Peter Carey becoming part of a larger blackmail plot involving a young woman who got pregnant and tried to induce an abortion. (I was very impressed that the show included that abortion reference matter-of-factly despite the Victorian setting.) There's no Stanley Hopkins, though, with Inspector Lestrade fulfilling the role of Scotland Yard detective. Watson himself accidentally becomes a murder suspect during the case because he keeps trying to follow people to where the action is. Holmes is pretty interesting, too, even if he seems ungrateful and embarrassed when Watson saves him by beating up four men all by himself. But they have a good dynamic, and I like the show so far.

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