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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - The Naval Treaty

episode 3

UK 1984
produced by
Michael Cox for Granada Television/ITV
directed by Alan Grint
starring Jeremy Brett, David Burke, David Gwillim, Gareth Thomas, Alison Skilbeck, Ronald Russell, Nicholas Geake, Pamela Pitchford, John Malcolm, David Rodigan, Eve Matheson, Rosalie Williams, John Taylor
screenplay by Jeremy Paul, based on the story by Arthur Conan Doyle, music by Patrick Gowers

TV-series
Sherlock Holmes, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Percy Phelps (David Gwillim), high-ranking employee of the foreign office, is panicking: He has lost a top secret treaty when he left his office for only a few moments, a treaty that could cause an international scandal or worse if it fell into the hands of the French of the Russians. In fact he is panicking to such a degree that it has affected his health and he has gone to the country house of his fiancée Annie (Alison Skilbeck) and her brother Joseph Harrison (Gareth Thomas) for recovery. In his panic, Phelps also eventually calls his friend Doctor Watson (David Burke) to get him in touch with Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett) for consultation.
Holmes is quick to point out two things concerning the case everybody seems to have missed: 1) The thief, while stealing the treaty, has for some reason rung for the caretaker, which at least is mighty odd, and 2), while the treaty has been stolen quite a few weeks ago, neither the French or the Russians seem to be in its possession yet, which means the treaty is probably still in the country. The someone breaks into the room of Phelps' sickbed, which he hadn't left for weeks - which at least seems mighty peculiar.

So Holmes persuades Phelps to accompany Watson back to London, then goes on an all-night surveillance job outside Phelps' room at his fiancée's country estate - and indeed, at 2 in the morning, someone breaks in and tears apart the bed that has been Phelps's sickbed ... in which he finds the treaty. Holmes chases the thief away of course, but not without taking the treaty from him first, and the baddie was - none other than Joseph Harrison, Phelps's brother-in-law to be.

Explanation: Harrison has lost a fortune at the stock exchange and was in dire straits. Then, when he went to pick up Phelps from the foreign office one day and found his office empty, he rang for the caretaker and only then saw the secret documents on Phelps's desk, documents that could have made him a fortune. So he took off with them and hid them in his sofa in the country estate, the very sofa that due to a stupid coincidence has later become Phelps's sickbed. Now the only way to get to the treaty was like a thief in the night, breaking into his own house ...

 

In a way a fun episode: It might be directe in an old-fashioned way, but Jeremy Brett's intensity as Sherlock Holmes carries the whole thing rather beautifully. However, somehow the whole case and its solution do not ring quite true, do feature some minor plotholes. And then there's the fight between Holmes and Harrison, a fight that's represented by shadows on the wall, doing their best to move in slow motion. Now this looks bizarre in an artsy form of way, but simply does not work as the climax of a detective story.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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