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The View from the East End
December 19 , 2010

It’s That Time Again

By Inspector Hopkins

Yes indeed . . . the perennial Christmas Season is upon us once more!  I always love this time of the year with the lights and the glitter, and the sharing of warm comradeship with friends and family. And, as a Sherlockian, I always enjoy reading the classic tale of the bonnie blue egg that a certain goose laid two days after Christmas at any time of the year.
But I love it even more so during the actual Season, as the temperatures drop and there is a sharp frost in the air!

The Blue Carbuncle

I’ve read this case many times over the years using both the Baring-Gould and Klinger annotated hardcopies, but I really must say that the Granada version of this Sherlockian favourite does more than enough justice to the tale, and in addition, does a superb job in cleaning up one or two of the most vexing “loose ends” that Sherlockians have long debated.

The Casting is Excellent

Granada has always done an excellent job in casting most of the various characters in the Canonical stories they portray, and this case is no exception.  For openers, although she was only briefly mentioned in the Canon, the Countess of Morcar (portrayed by Rosalind Knight in the Granada film) immediately gives the viewer a sense of how unpleasant this woman may have been!  She was nasty towards her staff, and appeared selfish and aloof.  Small wonder then, that the viewer has little sympathy for her when she discovers that her precious jewel was missing.

On the other hand, John Horner (portrayed by Desmond McNamara) comes across as a family man, despite some previous brush with the law. Together with his wife Jennie, (portrayed by Amelda Brown) they immediately appear sympathetic, and the audience is drawn towards them.

James Ryder (portrayed by Ken Campbell) appears as a sweaty, sleazy, slimy, and yet rather inexperienced (which implied an innate sense of innocence) villain. Finally, both Henry Baker ( Frank Middlemass), and Peterson ( Frank Mills) provide believable, as well as Canonically faithful,  portrayals in this tale.

So the stage is set

Note carefully that the Granada film portrayals in BLUE absolutely do not in any way compromise the Canonical tale, or change it in any way. This film remains one of the most faithful to the Canon, and yet it still gives the viewer a more detailed look at the implied character of the principals.

Fixing the loose ends

The very best part about the Granada film version of this story, however, is that it resolves two Canonical issues that have always bothered Sherlockian scholars:

  1. who got the 1000 pound reward for the jewel, and
  2. why did Holmes allow the innocent John Horner to languish in prison during the “season of forgiveness” while he let the sleazy James Rider off the hook?

In the Granada film, it is very well implied that Holmes will let Peterson enjoy the reward. And as Holmes and Watson sit down to their Christmas dinner, their conscience bothers them to the point that they immediately drop their dinner and leave Baker Street to free Horner for a crime which he did not commit. This is particularly refreshing!

However, I am still bothered by the loose end of whatever happened to Catherine Cusack.  She certainly was an accomplice to the crime committed. Did she escape?  Did she flee with James Ryder?  Whatever became of her?  Watson does not say, and neither does Granada.

And, speaking of “loose ends” . . .  as I promised before, we will begin to look somewhat more critically at Holmes’s adventures.  We will also begin to consider some of these “loose ends”, as well as some of the “story killers” in many of Watson’s tales.

Until next time, and wishing all of our readers a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Blue Carbuncle Day, and a Prosperous New Year, I remain indeed,

Yours faithfully,


Archives for
2002 to 2008

Past 2010 Columns

November 21 , 2010
Dirty Old Men in the Canon

December 19, 2010
It'sThat Time Again