The Creeping Man (TV episode 1991)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
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The Creeping Man

The Creeping Man (episode No. 32) is the 6th episode of season 5 of the Granada series: Sherlock Holmes (The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes), starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes and Edward Hardwicke as Dr. Watson, aired on ITV on 28 march 1991. 50 min.

The episode is an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's short story : The Adventure of the Creeping Man (1923).

This is maybe not one of Arthur Conan Doyle's best stories. We learn far too early that the simian creature disturbing the Presbury family is none other than the Professor himself. All that remains is to discover how it is metamorphosing and the outcome of the adventure. So scriptwriter Robin Chapman reshaped the story. He introduced suspense by delaying the revelation of the intruder's identity, added the enigma of monkey thefts and some scenes of action or comedy, but most importantly, he increased the dramatic tension. Bennett, for example, torn between Presbury and Edith, no longer collaborates obediently and Holmes struggles to get every piece of information from him. The outcome gains in strength: the sequence in which Holmes must, as a matter of urgency, discover the logic governing the succession of dates on which the creature manifested itself, is exciting and Presbury no longer attacks his dog here, but his ex-fiancée! Yet, despite his immense talent, Chapman could not solve the crucial problem: the impossibility of transforming Presbury into a monkey man. In a Sherlock Holmes adventure, everything must finally be explained in a scientific and logical way and the audience is offended by improbabilities they would tolerate in a science fiction story. Despite its conformity to the original story and the prowess of stuntman Denis Forman, the appearance of a Presbury with the face of a distinguished intellectual and the gestures of a furious gorilla seems ridiculous. However, the episode deserves to be seen. Presbury is remarkable for his austere apparent respectability, Watson reticent, grumpy and unfailingly faithful, Lestrade delightfully comic and Holmes successively dark and funny, harsh and suave, meditative and full of energy, but always incisive and radiant with a sovereign authority. And reality can approach the extravagance of this fiction: in 1920, Serge Voronoff tried, to restore a man's virility by implanting... monkey testicle tissues in him!




Plot summary (spoiler)

Edith Presbury, terrified by the mysterious creature seen at night at her window (the gorilla recently stolen from a zoo?), urges her fiancé, Jack Bennett, Professor Presbury's secretary, to consult Sherlock Holmes. Bennett, reluctant, eventually gave in and revealed to Holmes that the old scientist had a frenetic passion for Alice, his young fiancée. Presbury absent, Holmes and Watson examined his residence, but were interrupted by his unexpected return. Holmes notices Roy's aggressiveness towards Presbury and discovers that, twice, the hound has attacked his master, so he returns to inspect the house. On the Professor's blotter, he deciphered: "Dorak, Commercial Road". When he learned that Presbury received mysterious packages from this trafficker, he sent Watson to spot Dorak's shop, but his two associates, Jenkins and Wilcox, prevented the doctor from entering. At Presbury's, Bennett, awakened by a noise, saw a frightening simian shadow on the wall. The same night, Holmes suddenly seized the link between the theft of primates reported by the press, Jenkins and Wilcox, Dorak and the events concerning Presbury. While Alice has finally found the courage to break up with her too old fiancé, Holmes and Watson discover in Dorak the stolen monkeys, whose testicles are used to make the elixir supposed to restore the Professor's youthful vigour. Knowing the dates on which Roy barked savagely, Holmes notices that their interval decreases by two days each time; the next crisis will therefore occur that very evening, especially since a new package has arrived. Holmes and his companions run to the Professor who, transformed into a monkey man and furious that his bride escapes him, smashes the windows of his room. He's about to jump on Alice when Roy, having freed himself, jumps at her throat. Presbury will survive, probably softened according to Holmes by this terrible experience.

  • Credits : Monique Claisse (texts), Sarah Fava (photos), Granada.