Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Russian Sherlock Review - Episode # 3 "Clowns"

Russian Sherlock Holmes Igor Petrenko 2013 TV Series Episode 3 Clowns

As seen in the last episode, Irene Adler (Lyanka Gryu) stole a photograph from Sherlock Holmes (Igor Petrenko) right from his coat at 221 B Baker Street. This photograph proves to be of great significance due to the fact that one of the men is a complete stranger unknown to Dr John Watson, who is able to name most of the them due to his experiences with them during the war.

That picture is now published in the papers and Holmes is mystified as to why Irene would have stolen a picture that is to be printed for public consumption. 

Inspector Lestrade (Mikhail Boyarskiy) needs Sherlock's help in solving a case of murder. A photographer is killed just as he is about to take a picture of Tom Taylor (Sergey Burunov) and Mary (Natalya Tyurkina), an engaged couple.

Sherlock, using his knowledge of chemistry, figures out that trinitrotoluene was used as the explosive. He also deduces that there was a fourth person present, who was the murderer.

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Lestrade informs Holmes that it was Mycroft Holmes who had asked him to take Sherlock's help. Mycroft believes that Tom, the bridegroom was the target of this attack. Tom works for the Navy and was working on a very secret submarine project.

Sherlock and Dr John Watson (Andrei Panin) visit Bimbom Bramsel, a tavern frequented by Tom. They successfully capture Tom and after interrogating him, Sherlock concludes that he is not a spy.

Dr Watson identifies one of the persons in the photograph as one his wartime acquaintances, Charlie (Andrey Zibrov). Charlie is in jail right now and Sherlock and Dr Watson try to get him to identify the mysterious man in the picture.

Though Charlie recognizes the man, he is scared and pretends  not to know him. Despite Sherlock's warning that he is in mortal danger, Charlie pleads innocence. Just as Sherlock and Dr Watson are leaving, he is attacked in his cell and dies. He only mouths the word “Mor” and dies before he can complete the name.

Sherlock is forced to retrieve the picture from Irene Adler. He accomplishes this with Dr Watson's active help. As a result, Irene is kidnapped. Sherlock gets a ransom note: he has to steal the fur coat from the French Ambassador in exchange for Irene's safe return.

The rest of the episode deals with how Sherlock works with the French Ambassador, Charles Gauthier (Semyon Strugachyov) to save Irene's life.

Russian Lestrade Mikhail Boyarsky new Russian Sherlock Holmes 2013 TV Series

Canonical References
1. During the opening credits scene, Dr John Watson's voiceover mentions the following lines from A Scandal in Bohemia - “To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position.... And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.

2. The plot involving the conspiracy to kill a navy sailor for knowing secrets about a top secret submarine project and Mycroft enlisting Sherlock's help through Lestrade - This reminded me of the original story, The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans in which Mycroft requests Sherlock's assistance to solve the mystery behind the death Arthur Cadogan West, a government clerk and the missing pages of a secret submarine project.

3. In the Admiralty office, Sherlock refuses to take the case, if he is not provided with information. The Admiral (Aleksandr Polovtsev) finally relents to share details - There is a similar scene in Arthur Conan Doyle's story, The Adventure of the Second Stain in which the Prime Minister of England himself visits Sherlock Holmes at 221 B Baker Street regarding a missing document of high importance. Holmes refuses to help, unless he is provided with complete details about the document. Faced with this obstacle, The Prime Minister is forced to reveal more details.

4. Sherlock interrupts Irene and a stranger walking together in the park and deduces that he is an American who has recently arrived in London - This is a tenuous reference: In A Scandal in Bohemia, Sherlock Holmes mentions that Irene Adler was born in New Jersey in the US in 1858.

5. In order to retrieve the photograph from Irene's safe, Dr Watson makes a plan and creates a fire using photographic chemicals inside Irene's place. His strategy works and Irene bring the photograph outside - In A Scandal in Bohemia, it is Sherlock Holmes who comes up with the plan and asks Dr Watson to create the distraction with fire. Here too, the intention is to make Irene disclose the hiding place of her photograph with the Crown Prince of Bohemia.

6. The American Ambassador's wife, Jane makes the suggestion to write a message on the wall with blood - Possible reference to A Study in Scarlet, in which the murderer writes the word “RACHE” on the wall in blood.

We finally come face to face with Professor Moriarty (Aleksey Gorbunov). He looks and actually comes across as a genuinely scary criminal mastermind. Credit to the casting director for making this choice.

Mrs Hudson (Ingeborga Dapkunaite)'s passion for astrological signs adds a facet to her character. Though not present in the Canon, this is an enjoyable aspect. The “reception” she gets when trying to help Sherlock and John as they are working on the case was funny.

The late Andrei Panin also contributes to the humor aspects. His reaction to Tom's reunion with his fiance underlines the decent nature of Dr John Watson well.

His scenes with the publisher continue to be the best scenes in the show. The publisher advises Dr Watson to write a detective tale involving a young lady who receives a pearl every year and comes to a detective for help - A clear reference to The Sign of the Four, on which the previous episode “Rock, Paper, Scissors” was loosely based on.

An interesting scene was the one in which Sherlock rouses Dr Watson from his sleep by playing on his violin. This scene was genuinely funny, with Andrei Panin's reaction being top notch. This is something that the writers and actors in the CBS show Elementary can learn, since Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock wakes up Joan in pretty much every second episode.

Guest actor, Semyon Strugachyov is a hoot as French Ambassador Charles Gauthier. He is great in all of his scenes and especially the dinner scene with the American Ambassador (Yaroslav Boyko) and his wife, Jane.

The show has a great sense of humor and this differentiates it from the other very serious minded adaptations. I personally prefer Sherlock Holmes adaptations with a lighter touch and this one scores on that front, just as it's legendary predecessor, the classic TV series with Vasily Livanov did.

Highly recommended to fans of Sherlock Holmes. 

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Image Sources: Channel One Russia, Central Partnership, Lenfilm Films Studio

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  1. I loved your reviews of the first 3 episodes of the fantasically underrated Petrenko/Panin series. Did you ever review the final 5 epodes? Panin is with out a dobut one of my top 5 Watsons of all-time. The Lestrade performance in the episode "Halifax" is perhaps the best Lestrade performance I've ever seen also. There was an artistry to this series that I found unrivaled by others.

    1. Thanks Howard. I do plan to review the remaining episodes.

      I agree 200% with you about the late Andrei Panin. He is in my Top 5 list of Favorite Watsons as well.

      Yes, this adaptation had some of the best sets, costumes and soundtrack. I just wish Petrenko's portrayal was a bit more Canonical.