Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmes is likely the most famous fictional detective of all time, and possibly one of the most famous fictional figures outside of mystery fiction. He also happens to be in the public domain, which means that there is zero effective oversight of how the character is used by the author or their estate.
As a result, unofficial Sherlock Holmes stories can be written by just about anyone and be added to the unofficial Sherlock Holmes body of work. Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking is one such case, an addition by the BBC in 2004. This work is a semi-sequel to another 2002 BBC production, one of the many, many adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles, but in this case the connection is a bit more tenuous on the stage end – Richard Roxburgh was Holmes in the 2002 Hound production, but was replaced by Rupert Everett in the 2004 Silk Stocking. The main point of continuity is Ian Hart, who plays Dr. Watson in both productions.
A bit of a warning for Cozy fans – this one is a bit darker than most Cozy work. A serial killer is at large in London, targeting young women of higher birth. Meanwhile, Holmes is indulging in his customary distraction from many works, including indulging in narcotics. Watson lures him out of hiding, and quickly enough “the game is afoot” once more.
The main success for this particular movie is in the setting and costuming, which gives a very good feeling for Victorian England. Likewise, the performances are all decent, particularly Everett as Holmes and Hart as Watson. They give a good impression of being old friends, perhaps a bit estranged by time and events, but still willing to come through for one another and showing keen understanding of how the other works. Hart as Watson is in particular a good version of a less dunce-ish Watson, giving a better impression of the character, who is after all a practicing doctor, war veteran, and Victorian gentleman, not the bumbling oaf often portrayed.
Unfortunately, the mystery end does let things down a bit. Not to spoil the ending, but it does violate one of the Knox’s 10 Commandments of Detective Fiction – which is never a great sign. As a result, the conclusion feels a bit cheapened, as there is no real way that the viewer could hope to discover an important aspect of the mystery up until Sherlock suddenly proclaims that a specific conclusion must be true. Naturally enough, this being the great genius, he is correct, but it still feels like a cheapening of the mystery.
Still, regardless of shortcomings, I’d still recommend it to any fan of mysteries with a BritBox subscription, as it is free at the moment on the service.