Thursday, January 5, 2012

TV Review: Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes - "Acquaintance" (1979)


Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes in "Acquaintance" (1979)
Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes

This episode is based on A Study in Scarlet and The Adventure of the Speckled Band.

The opening shot is that of 2 men walking in the distance, approaching the camera. A man is explaining to Dr.Watson about the eccentricities of a prospective roommate. The man talking to Dr Watson is assumed to be Stamford (though we never get to know his name). They eventually meet up with the Bohemian resident of 221 B Baker Street and the rest is history! 

Coming back to the episode, Holmes and Watson discuss each other’s character traits. Dr.Watson proves to be the quiet and retiring one, with Holmes being the exact opposite. As Holmes opens up about his thoughts on astronomy, poetry and philosophy, Watson slowly comes to realize that his roommate is not your regular Joe.


221 B Baker Street
The famous lodgings at 221 B Baker Street

A series of events, including a stranger entering Holmes’s room to never reappear, Watson’s breakfast interrupted by the Baker Street Irregulars, Holmes playing violin at unearthly hours that makes Watson highly suspicious of Holmes’ intentions and character.

He even shares his apprehensions with Stamford, who does not take him seriously. Returning to his apartment, he finds Holmes tinkering with the apartment locks and this proves to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Watson challenges Holmes to a boxing duel. Holmes proceeds to knock him out cold.

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After quickly establishing himself as the world’s only consulting detective to Watson, we immediately meet Helen Stoner from the The Adventure of the Speckled Band. The sequence in which Holmes questions Ms.Stoner and coolly lights his pipe is to me the one money shot that convinced me that I had found my Definitive Sherlock Holmes.

The rest of the episode very closely follows the The Adventure of the Speckled Band.


Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes with Baker Street Irregulars in "Acquaintance" (1979)
Sherlock Holmes gets a visit from the Baker Street Irregulars

What worked best: As always, the casting, music and direction. It was a very inspired choice to combine the initial parts of A Study in Scarlet and The Adventure of the Speckled Band.  The transition from one story to another is flawless and will work fine irrespective of the viewer’s familiarity with the Canon.

The addition of Baker Street Irregulars and the boxing duel were nice touches as well. The background score for Helen Stoner is extremely well done and is probably the best in the series. 

Click here to read all my posts about the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. 

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Image Source: Lenfilm Film Studio 

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