Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's gothic mystery is given a streamlined treatment in this BBC production. One of only four novels featuring Mr. Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles has been adapted many times; this version features characterizations that are unusually true to the original stories. The adventure begins with a visit to 221B Baker Street from country doctor James Mortimer (John Nettles). Mortimer is in London to meet Sir Henry Baskerville (Matt Day), heir to a considerable fortune, a sprawling estate in the Devonshire moors and a family curse. His late uncle, Sir Charles Baskerville, died recently of heart failure, but local rumor blames the legendary hound of the Baskervilles, a malevolent supernatural beast. Sir Charles, an older man with a weak heart, died of fright on the desolate moors but what frightened him? Holmes (Richard Roxburgh) pooh-poohs the tale of the hound as unscientific balderdash, but agrees to look into the situation, dispatching Watson (Ian Hart) to accompany Mortimer and Sir Henry back to Baskerville Hall while he remains in London. Left to his own devices, Watson is soon awash in clues and complications. An escaped murderer, Selden (Paul Kynman), is on the loose. A woman's weeping disrupts the nighttime quiet of Baskerville Hall, and the longtime servants (Ron Cook, Liza Tarbuck) are acting strangely. And while visiting local naturalist Stapleton (Richard E. Grant), Stapleton's comely sister (Neve McIntosh) surreptitiously warns Watson of grave danger lurking in the apparently placid countryside. That Sir Henry is greatly taken with the charming Miss Stapleton only muddles matters further. By the time the master detective reappears, a conspiracy against Sir Henry has claimed one life, and Holmes and Watson must trick the plot's mastermind into revealing his hand before others die. Screenwriter Allan Cubitt and director David Attwood treat the venerable Hound of the Baskervilles as though it were a 19th-century episode of The X-Files, an approach that's surprisingly well suited to the original story's mix of gothic locations, apparently supernatural manifestations and all-too human perfidy. Roxburgh is a creditable Holmes but Hart shines as Watson, whom he plays as an intelligent, brave and resourceful fellow perpetually in the shadow of a flashy overachiever. The hound is something of a disappointment, but the multi-layered relationship between Holmes and Watson the key to the longevity of Conan Doyle's stories is handsomely evoked. The film debuted on cable in the US before going to video and DVD.
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- Released: 2002
- Review: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's gothic mystery is given a streamlined treatment in this BBC production. One of only four novels featuring Mr. Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles has been adapted many times; this version featu… (more)