How do you ruin a Sherlock Holmes story? That’s a loaded question which deserves a loaded answer. For one, you take out the main character. Brett was ill at the time of filming and has less than 30 seconds on screen. This is an adventure for Watson and Mycroft. On it’s own, it’s not bad but then there’s the little matter of the story itself. Or should I say “stories”.
I remember The Mazarin Stone with fondness. Holmes never leaves his room in the original story. There was a coziness to that one that has a fun ending. But the episode version merges The Mazarin Stone with another classic: The Three Garidebs. Now what makes the utterly deplorable is that in all 60 stories, there is only one time that I recalled where Holmes has a genuine emotional response to something happening to Watson. When Watson is shot, Holmes calls out in fear that his friend was injured. The written word has this to say: “It was worth a wound – it was worth many wounds – to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask.” Without Sherlock, this episode loses so much… including the shot itself. Instead, the bad guy flings a knife!
So the end result is not a bad story, but it’s neither The Mazarin Stone, The Three Garidebs, or even an actual Sherlock Holmes episode. In other words… what can I say about this?
A diamond has gone missing and the chief antagonist, Count Sylvius, is the thief. We are given this more as a clue, but with no other culprit, it’s pretty obvious. Mycroft spends the episode being mysterious and dogging the man’s every step to get it back.
Meanwhile, an old man is lured out of his house because supposedly some nutcase left $15 million to be split three ways if three male Garidebs travel to Birmingham together. The real ploy is, not unlike The Red Headed League, to get Mr. Garideb out of his house because there’s a secret room under the house that has to tools needed to cleave the Mazarin Diamond.
It’s all about the money. The imposter Garideb needs the tools to cleave the diamond in order to sell it for more.
Yeah… about that… Really the mistake is that Count Sylvius is a known rogue to Mycroft. As a result, Mycroft dresses up as a cabman and a general, then taunts the count, appearing in various locations to drive him over the edge. The real problem here is that Charles Grey, the actor who plays Mycroft, is so astoundingly singular looking that there’s no way anyone would be confused by the disguises he wears!
“Remember, hair trigger.” What does help this episode is the interactions between Mycroft and Sylvius. He’s no Moriarty, but he has an electric tension with Mycroft. There’s also that wonderful moment where the imposter Garideb has Watson by the throat when the actual Garideb sisters drop the heavy trap door on his head. His cry of agony is actually funny, but when the camera shows the injury later, it’s quite terrible looking!
The Garideb sisters do add a sense of comedy which also helped, but again, this isn’t a bad episode of a mystery show! It’s just that it feels utterly lacking in a Sherlock Holmes episode.
Director Peter Hammond is totally distinguishable from any of the other directors on this series. He captures light and reflections very well, creating a marvelously visual experience. I remembered this episode clearly from my original watch many years ago mostly because it butchered two stories I really liked, but also because it was extremely visual. That quality stood out to me this season when I’d seen the 2 other episodes he did but it was due to the memory of this one that helped those stand out.
The episode itself isn’t without merit though. Holmes tells Watson at the start – in that brief scene before he goes away, that he will be watching his friend with his “third eye”. An interesting comment when one considers he spent some years in Tibet after the events of The Final Problem. The other item of note is Hammond’s use of reflection when Sylvius takes a shot at Mycroft. It’s a wonderful scene if nothing else.
I am deeply disappointed to know we are approaching the final episode and we didn’t have Holmes for the penultimate story. We can just hope the final story makes up for it. ML
I always thought it a big mistake that in Brett’s absence they didn’t return Freddie Jones’s characters from Wysteria Lodge, as I always got thr impression that Mycroft was a character whom had little interest in getting involved in anything himself
Agreed! But at the same time, Charles Grey was outstanding. ML