×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Arthur & George’

With:
Martin Clunes, Arsher Ali, Art Malik, Emma Fielding, Charles Edwards, Hattie MorahanSir

While American television has shifted toward shorter series orders, it still hasn’t caught up with British productions like “Arthur & George,” which tells a self-contained story over three serialized episodes that each run about 45 minutes, so roughly the length of a feature film. Yet while this fact-based look at an episode in the life of Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle appears designed to cash in on interest in all things related to the fictional sleuth, it’s a slim construct, with a mystery that’s as wispy and unsubstantial as fog drifting in over the moors.

Starring Martin Clunes as Doyle, the movie operates on two related tracks: The famed author has lost his wife, and is plagued by guilt over whether she knew of his emotional attachment to another woman, Jean (Hattie Morahan), before her death. So he throws himself into investigating the case of George Edalji (“The Missing’s” Arsher Ali), a mixed-race solicitor (his father is an Indian pastor) who, in 1903, served time for mutilating animals — a crime he appears not to have committed — and is being tormented (dare one say hounded?) again upon his release.

Sir Arthur, naturally, applies Holmes-like logic to try to figure out what really happened, with his personal secretary Alfred Wood (“Downton Abbey’s” Charles Edwards) serving as his Dr. Watson. Still, it’s not a terribly compelling mystery, and proceeds hand-in-hand with Doyle’s furtive steps to advance his relationship with Jean without scandalizing his family.

Holmes is such a tremendously durable character (as evidenced by Ian McKellen’s recent turn as an aged version of him in “Mr. Holmes”) that anything trading off that franchise likely has some drawing power. That said, “Arthur & George” (adapted by Ed Whitmore from Julian Barnes’ book, and directed by Stuart Orme) is understated to the point of sleepy, and doesn’t sprinkle enough red herrings to provoke much guessing or suspense as to what actually transpired.

Those misgivings exist despite what is clearly a topnotch cast, with Ali, in particular, creating a shroud of mystery around the stiff-upper-lipped George, a barrister who dismisses out of hand any suggestions that racial animus could have possibly been responsible for inspiring a plot against him.

On its face, “Arthur & George” looks like a natural for PBS, mashing up as it does impeccable period trappings, Victorian romance and the allure of a true story (yes, there’s script about what happened at the end) with the underlying Holmes-esque mystery. As put together, though, it’s handsome enough, but ultimately feels just a trifle too elementary.

TV Review: 'Arthur & George'

(Miniseries; PBS, Sun. Sept. 6-20, 8 p.m.)

Production: Produced by Buffalo Pictures and Masterpiece for ITV.

Crew: Executive producer, Rebecca Eaton; producers, Philippa Braithwaite, Trevor Hopkins; director, Stuart Orme; writer, Ed Whitmore; based on the novel by Julian Barnes; camera, Suzie Lavelle; production designer, Anthony Ainsworth; editor, David Yardley; music, Rob Lane; casting, Toby Whale. 3 HOURS

Cast: Martin Clunes, Arsher Ali, Art Malik, Emma Fielding, Charles Edwards, Hattie MorahanSir

More TV

  • Baby Yoda The Mandalorian

    Disney Plus Set for Earlier Launch in U.K. & Western Europe

    The Walt Disney Co. has set March 24 as the new launch date for Disney Plus in the U.K. and other key markets across Western Europe. With the roll-out previously set for March 31, the streaming service will now be available a week earlier in the U.K., Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland. Pricing [...]

  • 9-1-1: LONE STAR: L-R: Rob Lowe

    TV Ratings: '9-1-1: Lone Star' Starts Strong Behind NFC Championship Game

    “9-1-1 Lone Star” got off to a flaming start for Fox in the TV ratings behind the NFC Championship game. The Rob Lowe-fronted series premiere to a 3.2 rating among adults 18-49 and 11.5 million viewers in the time zone-adjusted ratings, which represents easily the best scripted debut of the 2019-2020 season. “Lone Star” had [...]

  • Ariel Winograd'TOD@S CAEN' film premiere, Los

    Viacom International Studios Signs First Look Deal with Ariel Winograd (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID  — Adding to a powerful and still growing talent roster, Viacom International Studios (VIS) has clinched a first-look deal with Argentine writer-director Ariel Winograd whose latest movie, “The Heist of the Century,” has just become one of the biggest Argentine openers in history. The multi-year pact takes in the development and production of not [...]

  • William Bogert Dead: 'Small Wonder' Actor

    William Bogert, Who Appeared in 'War Games,' 'Small Wonder,' Dies at 83

    TV, film and theater actor William Bogert, who appeared in a recurring role on 1980s sitcom “Small Wonder” and in films such as “War Games,” died Jan. 12 in New York. He was 83. On “Small Wonder,” which ran from 1985 to 1989, Bogert played Brandon Brindle, the Lawsons’ neighbor and Harriet’s father who became [...]

  • Editorial Use OnlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    TV Ratings: NFL's AFC, NFC Championship Games Down From 2019

    The NFL’s AFC and NFC championship games made for a blockbuster Sunday of football for CBS and Fox, but viewership of the games that determine the contenders for the Super Bowl was down from 2019 levels. CBS’ AFC championship in the 3 p.m. ET afternoon slot delivered 41.1 million viewers as the Kansas City Chiefs [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content