Review: ‘Mystery! Sherlock Holmes: The Last Vampyre’

Host: Diana Rigg.

Host: Diana Rigg.

Would-be scriptwriters could take a lesson from Jeremy Paul about plumping up a brief-but-cunning short story into a two-hour drama loaded with ghostly ruins, vanishing persons, grave robbing, stormy nights, agonized screams, neck bites, sharpened stakes and a proportionately larger number of characters. Sherlock Holmes purists may be distressed, but Paul, who even adds a vampire-like antagonist, gives life to the drama.

Jeremy Brett, looking heftier, and Edward Hardwicke return as Holmes and Watson to answer the plea of a Sussex village vicar (Maurice Denham in a fine characterization) worried about the effects of newcomer Stockton (Roy Marsden) on the Fergusons and on the town.

Bob Ferguson (Keith Barron), his son Jack (Richard Dempsey) by his first wife , and Carlotta (Yolanda Vasquez), his new Peruvian wife, invite Stockton in to supper one night.

The next morning, the Fergusons’ infant dies unexplainedly after the brief contact with Stockton, just as a blacksmith keeled over after Stockton’s damning glance.

No crime’s been committed, but Holmes, not busy at the moment, and Watson start their chase. They find occult doings, a woman who seems to be drinking blood, and the aloof, cold Stockton, who claims he’s in town to check out his long-dead family rumored to have been headed by a vampire.

Production values are as high as rich in the Granada TV series, and Brett’s Holmes is terrif. Thesping all around is top-flight, and Tim Sullivan keeps a firm directorial hand on the mystery. If the windup comes as a surprise, so much the better.

Mystery! Sherlock Holmes: The Last Vampyre

(Thurs. (Jan. 27, Feb. 3), 9-10 p.m., PBS)


Filmed in England by Granada TV and WGBH/Boston. Producer, June Wyndham Davies; director, Tim Sullivan; writer, Jeremy Paul; based on story "The Sussex Vampyre" by Arthur Conan Doyle.


Camera, David Odd; editor, Kim Horton; sound, Phil Taylor; art director, Colin Pockc; music, Patrick Gowers; production designer, Christopher J. Bradshaw.


Cast: Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke, Roy Marsden, Maurice Denham, Juliet Aubrey, Keith Barron, Yolanda Vasquez, Elizabeth Spriggs, Freddie Jones, Richard Dempsey, Hilary Mason, Jason Hetherton, Kate Lansbury, Peter Geddis, Stephen Tomlin, Eileen O'Brien, Andy Abrahams, Marcella Marascalchi, Paul Parris, Anthony Price, Maria Raymond.
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