The Resident Patient (TV episode 1985)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
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The Resident Patient

The Norwood Builder (episode No. 11) is the 4th episode of season 2 of the Granada series: Sherlock Holmes (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes and David Burke as Dr. Watson, aired on ITV on 15 september 1985. 51 min.

The episode is an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's short story : The Adventure of the Resident Patient (1893).

The Resident Patient is, in some respects, a frustrating story: the three so-called avengers are nothing but mere rascals and the 15 years-prison sentence which Sutton's (alias Blessington) betrayal had earned them was well-deserved anyway. Coward and disloyal, Sutton, their victim, is not a likeable sort either. But on the other hand, Biddle and Hayward, his murderers, are inventive and daring amateur-actors and the unlikely comedy they play, disguised as Russian aristocrats, to deceive Doctor Trevelyan, is a colourful and hilarious show. As to Blessington-Sutton, actor Patrick Newell conveys perfectly his striking transformation from a new "genie of the lamp", able to fulfil young Trevelyan's dreams, into a distraught wreck scared out of his wits, and director David Carson's teaser enhances the depiction of his terror with a touch of weirdness. The story lacks action, but young Nicholas Clay's energy as Doctor Trevelyan and Jeremy Brett's reactive, brisk and dynamic acting succeed in giving the episode a boost. While we are deprived of the pleasure to see Holmes catching the criminals, we can enjoy brilliant displays of his mental powers, particularly in the famous room examination scene, where he deduces from the cigar ashes only that three men were present by Blessington, and pieces together the whole sequence of events thanks to some material clues nobody had paid real attention to. The adventure of The Resident Patient is hardly an exhilarating one but scriptwriter Derek Marlowe's humour brightens, warms and livens up the episode. In the delightful opening scene at the barber's and in the final one, when Watson, at first doubtful, ends up appropriating enthusiastically the title Holmes has suggested, of course, but also when Mrs Hudson congratulating the Doctor on the progress of his model ship, he slips away like a guilty kid before she discovers the living room she just cleaned up has been turned into an appalling dumping ground. The upright, likeable and entertaining Baker Street trio act as an antidote against the criminals' loathsome wickedness.




Plot summary (spoiler)

On their return to Baker Street, Holmes and Watson find Doctor Percy Trevelyan waiting in the living-room. He tells them that two years ago while, beginning his career as a physician, he was desperately short of money, a rich man by the name of Blessington came and proposed him a strange deal: he offered to settle the talented but poor Doctor in luxurious lodgings and surgery; in exchange, the young man should accommodate him, watch over his health and give him three-quarters of his earnings. This agreement worked perfectly, till the day Blessington was driven mad with terror by the news of a burglary. He was only just his usual self again when two so-called Russians, supposedly come to consult Trevelyan, managed to sneak into the resident's bedroom. When he discovered their intrusion, he burst into tears and begged Trevelyan to go and fetch Sherlock Holmes, his last hope… So Holmes rushes at Blessington's, but the man claims he doesn't have a clue about the two intruders and their motives. Exasperated by this blatant lie, Holmes leaves abruptly his would-be client. The next morning, a telegram calls him back to Blessington's house: the resident patient has been found hung in his bedroom! Holmes concludes from a close examination of the room that the dead man has not committed suicide. Three men were present in the bedroom. They tried Blessington and sentenced him to death for a crime which Holmes finds out thanks to an old newspaper cutting. Some fifteen years ago, Blessington (whose real name is Sutton) had robbed Worthington Bank with the help of four other burglars. Then, he sold his accomplices to the police. One of them, guilty of murder, was hanged, the others were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Once they were released, they took revenge on the traitor. Holmes fails in his attempts to put them under arrest but later on, they all drown in the sinking of the Norah Creina.

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