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The View from the East End (75)

By Inspector Hopkins

October 7, 2007
 

The Granada Film Series    (part 6)

by Inspector Hopkins

One of my very favourite Films in this series combines some non-Canonical rendition along with some very creative and clever Canonical improvement to the story, and it is all wrapped up with some absolutely breathtaking scenery and location shots.

The Final Problem

This was the last Granada Film starring David Burke as Dr. Watson and it concluded the first two seasons as the end of the “Adventures” boxed set of CD’s. It is a memorable Film in a number of ways and we will take a brief look at some of these for this week’s article.

As I mentioned last time, there was a noticeable difference between the ways that Watson was portrayed by David Burke and Edward Hardwicke, with Burke’s portrayal being somewhat slightly less Canonical than Hardwicke’s.  Recall that he often took the lead from Holmes, and was more aggressive and competitive than the Canonical Watson. In this Film, however, Burke’s portrayal was much more accurate and is probably the most faithful of the first two seasons.

Recall further that throughout all my articles in this series, I am using fidelity to the Canon as a yardstick for comparing the Films with the original stories. Although this Film opened with Mrs. Hudson being present and Dr. Watson at Baker Street instead of his own rooms, and there was some minor dialogue changes, these were very minor deviations and did not have any negative impact. As we have noted before, they were most likely intended to provide continuation and to simplify the plot a bit.

With these thoughts in mind, I must say I was quite impressed with the way that Granada read between the lines of this story, and presented the “matter of the French government” as the theft of the Mona Lisa! Although technically non-Canonical, it fit into the story line perfectly, was quite plausible, and gave some more background for the development of Moriarty’s character, admirably portrayed by Eric Porter.  Note that Granada introduced his character in their previous Film, The Red Headed League,and used it as a lead-in to The Final Problem.  Again, while not being strictly Canonical, small liberties such as these definitely added some improvement to the original stories, and are something which I am constantly looking for.

Finally, the Swiss scenery was spectacular!   Granada spared very little expense in producing any of their Films, but their efforts certainly showed in this one. One can only imagine the logistics, difficulties, and costs of moving all the production crew, actors, and equipment to the Reichenbach Falls.

From the point at which Holmes and Watson are on their train with Moriarty in hot pursuit behind them, the Film followed the Canon exactly. Burke’s competitive portrayal of Watson had softened a bit by this episode, and every time I watch it I am always quite touched by the ending scenes when he narrates the note that Holmes had left behind for him. I hate to admit this, but, even though I know that Holmes comes back in his “Return”, I always get misty-eyed at the end of this Film because it was so well done.

In conclusion, this particular Film displays a classic “rule of three” which I have observed in my analysis of Granada’s efforts: about one third is strictly non-Canonical, another third is non-Canonical but an excellent interpolation of the Canon, and the last third is verbatim.

Perhaps there are other patterns which exist . . . . but we’ll save that for another time.

Until then, and thanking you as always for your attention and perseverance in following this little study, I remain indeed,

Yours Faithfully,
STANLEY HOPKINS