Review: ‘The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes the Three Gables’

Filmed in London by Granada Television and WGBH (Boston). Executive producer, Sally Head; producer, June Wyndham Davies; director, Peter Hammond; script, Jeremy Paul, based on "The Adventure of the Three Gables" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; camera, Doug Hallows; editor, Paul Griffiths-Davies; production design, Michael Young; sound, Paul Carr; music, Patrick Gowers. TX:Host: Diana Rigg. TX:Cast: Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke, Rosalie Williams, Claudine Auger, Gary Cady, Benjamin Pullen, Caroline Blakiston, Mary Ellis, Peter Wyngarde, Michael Graham, Steve Toussaint, Barbara Young, John Gill, Emma Hardwicke. One of the last six Sherlock Holmes stories to be filmed before Jeremy Brett's death, "The Three Gables" shows signs of strain. The original story was one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's last (in "The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes," not the earlier "Memoirs" collection) and one of his slightest. The trail leads to mysterious Spanish woman Isadora Klein (Claudine Auger), "the widow of the German sugar king," and object of the ardor of Mrs. Maberley's now-dead grandson (Gary Cady).

Filmed in London by Granada Television and WGBH (Boston). Executive producer, Sally Head; producer, June Wyndham Davies; director, Peter Hammond; script, Jeremy Paul, based on “The Adventure of the Three Gables” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; camera, Doug Hallows; editor, Paul Griffiths-Davies; production design, Michael Young; sound, Paul Carr; music, Patrick Gowers. TX:Host: Diana Rigg. TX:Cast: Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke, Rosalie Williams, Claudine Auger, Gary Cady, Benjamin Pullen, Caroline Blakiston, Mary Ellis, Peter Wyngarde, Michael Graham, Steve Toussaint, Barbara Young, John Gill, Emma Hardwicke. One of the last six Sherlock Holmes stories to be filmed before Jeremy Brett’s death, “The Three Gables” shows signs of strain. The original story was one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s last (in “The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes,” not the earlier “Memoirs” collection) and one of his slightest. The trail leads to mysterious Spanish woman Isadora Klein (Claudine Auger), “the widow of the German sugar king,” and object of the ardor of Mrs. Maberley’s now-dead grandson (Gary Cady).

Forced to expand a brief and linear story to nearly an hour’s running time, screenwriter Jeremy Paul creates subplots and situations, shifts action from one character to another (mainly to give Dr. Watson more screen time, it seems) and — unfortunately — drops one of Conan Doyle’s principals, a rural police inspector even more dimwitted than Holmes’ usual foil, Lestrade.

Brett, the favorite Holmes of many Conan Doyle fans, looks old and tired here , maybe a reflection of his physical state at the time, or possibly from the knowledge that the series was reaching the dregs of the canon. In addition to able performances from those already mentioned, Edward Hardwicke is (as usual) spot-on as Watson, Barbara Young turns in a shrill performance as Mrs. Maberley’s recently hired maid, and Auger (lead Bond girl from 1965’s “Thunderball”) shows considerable strength as Klein.

Episode’s chief virtue — outside of Paul’s inventiveness — may be its luxurious look, with an outdoor party scene especially rich.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes the Three Gables

(Thurs. (4), 9-10 p.m., PBS)

Production

After being mysteriously threatened by some anonymously hired muscle (Steve Toussaint), Holmes is summoned by widow Mary Maberley (Mary Ellis). Someone's been trying to purchase her house and all that's in it.
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