33. The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1987, TV)

IMDB score = 6.1/10

Holmes and Watson? = Michael Pennington and Margaret Colin

Synopsis = Sherlock Holmes is brought back to life by Watson's female descendant after being cryogenically frozen for eighty years.

Defense by Trudy Holtz:

We begin with a murder, as all good mysteries do. A man is followed, there is a struggle, a shot is fired and then someone wastes an awful lot of good brandy to set a body on fire.

Jane Watson has taken over the family detective agency after her father's death six months prior. She thought it would be fun, but they are failing to make any money. She agrees to sell the house she inherited back in England. She goes to sign off on the paperwork and is given a certain tin dispatch box.

There are a set of instructions inside and when she follows them, we come face to face with Sherlock Holmes! He's been cryogenically frozen for the past 86 years (they called the process Arctic Sleep).

In 1900, a revenge plot by one of the brothers Moriarty has Holmes infected with bubonic plague. Faced with certain death, Holmes takes an experimental route to the future and hope of a cure by freezing himself in Watson's cellar.

In 1987, after a brief trip to a doctor's office for some hilarity and some medical handwavery, Holmes is cured and off to explore this new world! Jane takes him to London where he gets to interact with such delights as punks with mohawks, a 221B that isn't home anymore, and other perils. ("Television is radio with pictures" …."Radio?")

My favorite parts of this are probably predictable. He wants a bookstore and is cautioned against one- "That's an Adult Bookstore!" – "I'm an adult." The look on his face is priceless. I also loved Watson taking him to buy new clothes and apparently coming out with bags of exactly the same suit he was wearing. And his deerstalker. But to be honest, it's a bit cute on him.

Jane's secretary Ms Huston calls them back to Boston when the agency is burgled. Everything gets moving rather quickly after that. Ms Huston is a sarcastic and grumpy lady (I love her) who takes no nonsense from Holmes. Their case is a retelling of The Sign of Four. They really shook up the situation in a grand way. Plenty of little twists and turns, even if you'll probably get it before the end. They mix in new technology (microchips) and news (Watergate, D.B. Cooper) with old favorites (tobacco ash).

Holmes, on the other hand, is a bit out of water. His deductions keep getting derailed by the changes to… well, everything. Holmes is still the Great Detective, he's just working from an incomplete data set. Something about the case is throwing him off. Jane fixes it in a way that only a Watson would know how to. (Honestly, I almost cried)

Jane Watson is a thoroughly modern woman. Holmes keeps sticking his nose into her love life and she puts him off nice and firmly like the nosy uncle he is. Toby Gregson is an interesting love interest for her and an interesting character on his own. Violet Morstan, their client, is a possible love interest for Holmes but it's not an overlong film and she doesn't get a chance to develop her character as well as they should. That's because this wasn't just a movie, it was meant to be a pilot for a TV show as well. There were no takers. (I have sad feelings about this.)

There are Canon references aplenty for all those paying attention. Cox banking, Milvertronix, Tobias Gregson, the sign of the four. Even a blink and you'll miss it TONGA on the tailgate of a truck. Raffles and Lestrade are mentioned as well as Irene Adler.

The dialogue is snappy, the references are A+ and the locations are loads of fun. Add in a little burglary, grave robbing, first time attempted driving, some disguise work and a stop off at the London Bridge in Lake Havasu, Arizona – What's not to love? It's a very fun film and one of my new favorite Sherlock Holmes movies.

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