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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes'
(Ian Richardson, Charles Dance, Robin Laing, Dolly Wells, et al/ DVD / NR / (2000) 2011 / BFS Entertainment)

Overview: Outside of the refined halls of Edinburgh University, a young Arthur Conan Doyle is learning his first lesso... in murder. In 1878, when Mr. Doyle (Robin Laing) meets the brilliant Dr. Bell (Ian Richardson), he is drawn away from his medical studies into a new world of crime investigation. As the pair assist local police in solving their most gruesome cases, Doyle becomes fascinated with Bell's uncanny talent for outthinking seasoned detectives and outwitting the most clever criminals.

DVD Verdict: Having been produced (and subsequently shown) by the BBC (UK) back in 2000, I was surprised to then learn (for I am a keen, devoted lover of all things Sherlock Holmes) that it was only a pilot for a subsequent TV series entitled 'Murder Rooms.'

As it turned out, there were/are four hour-long episodes that were released on DVD (although this pilot was not one of them), all of which continued to star Ian Richardson (as Holmes), but none that continued with the acting abilities of this Doyle, Robin Laing.

As so-called pilots go, 'Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes - Dr. Bell & Mr. Doyle' stands alone as if it were its own deal. Well executed, coming in two parts, with a beginning (no pun intended), middle and end, the pilot could easily have just been a one-off ... which I, again, assumed it was!

With a wonderful depth and degree of production values, acting and script, the two-parter begins with the news that Sherlock Holmes is dead! Of course, it's only a printed article on the demise of the fictional character by its author, of course, but we then flashback to why this choice was made.

As we find out how the two met, they noticeably have a wonderful, uber-fun relationship with each other. Exchanging quirky barbs with one another, the wonderful Victorian scenery and medical forensics soon begin to meld as one.

The cleverness of Bell's deductions which help find the serial killer are what keep you interested. It is all, truly, very early-CSI stuff! The killer is, in fact, found to be following the Psalms of the Bible and when all is said and done, the big reveal of who he/she is makes this 117 minute journey all the more enjoyable. [RT] This is a Widescreen Presentation, enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Production Notes
Actor Filmographies