The Dying Detective (TV episode 1994)

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The Dying Detective

The Dying Detective (episode No. 37) is the 2nd episode of season 6 of the Granada series: Sherlock Holmes (The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes), starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes and Edward Hardwicke as Dr. Watson, aired on ITV on 14 march 1994. 51 min.

The episode is based on Arthur Conan Doyle's short story : The Adventure of the Dying Detective (1913).

The Dying Detective, a captivating and humorous story whose plot, essentially consisting of Holmes' subterfuge to Watson and then Culverton Smith, took place almost exclusively in the detective's room, could hardly be repeated as it stood. Trevor R. Bowen enriched and diversified it by imagining the circumstances and events that led to the ones Arthur Conan Doyle referred to in his story. In the adaptation, Smith skilfully exploits the hope of his cousin Savage to reach, thanks to opium, the heights of poetic creation, and to lure him into a fatal trap. The result is a series of spectacular and intensely dramatic scenes recounting the sudden collapse of the unfortunate young man, his sudden departure for the hospital and his atrocious death. Then Holmes hits Smith with an anathema in a thunderous Jupiterian apostrophe, to inspire him with the resolution to eliminate him and to trap him in turn. Bowen provided Savage with a wife, Adelaide, played with a quivering sensitivity by Susannah Harker and whose misfortunes give rise to moving scenes. Played by Jonathan Hyde, Smith no longer has anything hideous or ridiculous. Tall, elegant, endowed with a beautiful deep voice, he is an enemy worthy of Holmes and whose Machiavellianism and icy cruelty make people shudder. As soon as the script reaches the beginning of the story, the film follows it faithfully. Watson is enthusiastic about chivalry, energy and self-sacrifice. Jeremy Brett performs a great act in the tragic-comic role of a Holmes pretending to be in agony and who alternately moans, explodes rabidly and wanders with a delightful madness. The resurrection of Holmes is a wonderful coup de theatre superbly performed and filmed and Mrs. Hudson's appearances are a real pleasure. Both an adaptation and a pastiche, this episode happily combines fidelity to the original story and invention.




Plot summary (spoiler)

Adelaide Savage comes to Holmes to confide in him the anguish she feels about the harmful influence exerted on her husband by her cousin Culverton Smith. Savage, a young banker dreaming of becoming a poet, imagines that opium will help his inspiration and Smith encourages this dangerous illusion. On the very evening of his visit to the smokehouse to which Smith had guided his choice, Savage was struck by a malaise. He died shortly afterwards and Smith, an expert in tropical diseases, explained to the detective that he had died of a fever contracted in the cosmopolitan district of the smokehouse. But Holmes suspects Smith of being guilty of the young man's death. Indeed, this brilliant amateur biologist, unglued by the scientific community's misunderstanding, clearly covets the fortune of his cousin, of whom he is the heir. Moreover, as soon as Savage died, he took possession of his property and threw his family out on the street. Holmes then informed him of his determination to make his suspicious conduct public. Shortly after the detective received a cigar box as a gift, Mrs. Hudson, in panic, ran to call Watson at her bedside. But Holmes, apparently on the verge of death, refused his care and begged him to go get Culverton Smith, the only one capable of saving him. As soon as Watson returned, his friend ordered him to hide. Soon, Smith makes his entrance. Glad to see Holmes in agony, he reveals to him that he killed Savage, dazed by opium, by placing an infected mosquito on his neck and then contaminated him too with the cigar box he sent him. Then, fulfilling a last wish of the dying man, Smith adjusts the lighting more strongly. Then the false dying person resurfaces and announces the imminent arrival of the police, alerted by this signal. Watson having witnessed Smith's confession, the diabolical biologist's conviction is certain.

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