Series: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson
Элементарно, мой дорогой Ватсон
(Приключения Шерлока Холмса и доктора Ватсона) is a series of Sherlock Holmes
adaptations made for Soviet television
between 1979 and 1986. It is commonly known as "Russian Sherlock Holmes" in Western fan circles, although the Baker Street scenes were actually filmed in Latvia
. It stars Vasily Livanov as Holmes and Vitaly Solomin as Dr. Watson.
The series is generally true to the Doyle stories, but is more of an Adaptation Distillation
than a straight page-to-screen conversion. The combination of the Victorian British
setting and the Russian sensibilities of the creators give the series an interesting blend of cultural influences. Livanov, Solomin, and many of the supporting actors give memorable performances - Livanov was even awarded an Order of the British Empire for his portrayal of Holmes - and the opening theme is insidiously catchy.
Among those fans aware of the series, however, it is still considered one of the, if not the
, pre-eminent adaptations of Conan Doyle's work. Another point in its favour is that it is not as political as some Soviet productions were - Holmes and Watson are not portrayed as proto-Marxist-Leninists, launching into Author Filibuster
, and despite the rich opportunity to do so, the inequalities of Victorian life are not presented as flaws of modern-day capitalism. They did miss a trick by not having Holmes and Watson meet Karl Marx, however.
The series is a cultural icon in Russia. The films are less well known in the West than the English-speaking Holmes adaptations, but English-subtitled episodes are now available.
Provides Examples Of:
- Adaptation Distillation
- Adorkable: Vitaly Solomin's Watson ranks up there with Martin Freeman's in ex-military-doctor cuteness.
- Arguably, Dr. Mortimer in Hound of the Baskervilles.
- Badass Bookworm: Holmes, as usual.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Henry Baskerville, before his nerve begins to fail him.
- Bowdlerise: Holmes doesn't use cocaine in this adaptation (although he still smokes like a chimney).
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Holmes is a bit nicer than usual in this version, but still decidedly eccentric.
- Cool Old Lady: Mrs. Hudson.
- Entertainingly Wrong: Watson's belief in the first episode that Holmes is a criminal mastermind. He does have the right skill set for it and he knows all kinds of disreputable people.
- Everybody Smokes: At least most of the men seem to, although in Holmes and Watson's case this is true to Doyle canon.
- Evil Cripple: It takes some time to notice, but Moriarty can't move his neck.
- Fainting: Watson, when alive and well Holmes revealed himself
- Fatal Flaw: Moriarty's love for the dramatic.
- Food Porn: The big Victorian breakfast scene in the first episode. Did the camera really need to linger on the table for that long?
- Friendship Moment: Many. Holmes and Watson are particularly affectionate in this version, possibly due to Russian social norms for close friends, and Solomin and Livanov have excellent chemistry.
- Genius Bruiser: Holmes. Dr. Roylott (villain of the Speckled Band story) comes to Watson and Holmes, demands they stop the investigation and threatens them by bending an iron poker. After Roylott storms out, Holmes rather casually straightens it out. And of course he is a former boxing champion.
- Genius Slob: Holmes. It appears to be a matter of principle with him: he doesn't even let Mrs. Hudson dust his things.
- Gentleman Detective: Holmes, of course, in an eccentric sort of way.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The main theme. It was adapted from a filler theme played by The BBC World Service, thus giving Russian audiences a perfect leitmotif for Britain. Of course, Russian audiences shouldn't have been listening to the BBC World Service in the first place due to Soviet censorship. The fact that the theme succeeded was testament to how widespread Soviet illegal listening was.
- Iconic Outfit: The cape and deerstalker make their inevitable appearance, though in the more correct context this time, as a back-country outfit it was in the first place.
- Innocently Insensitive: Holmes, in the scene with Watson's pocket watch. His chain of deductions regarding Watson's alcoholic older brother winds up hitting a few sore spots and provokes a Dude, Not Funny! reaction from Watson. To be fair to Holmes, Watson did ask Holmes what he could infer from the watch.
- Large Ham: Nikita Mikhalkov, one of the hammiest persons in Soviet cinema, as Henry Baskerville.
- Leitmotif: DAAA da da da da-da-da-da-da!
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Holmes and Moriarty although it turns out Moriarty decided to cheat by bringing in Moran with a gun.
- Master of Disguise: Holmes, as per usual. Though Livanov's distinctive voice is kinda of a giveaway.
- Mr. Fanservice: Vitaly Solomin's Watson is quite easy on the eyes if you like boyishly handsome blond men in tweed, and Holmes is rather dapper in his own way.
- Obviously Evil: This version of Moriarty is incredibly sinister looking.
- Older Than They Look: Solomin's Watson is quite boyish looking for someone who, given the age of the actor at the time of filming, is probably around forty.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Russian version of Lestrade is more funny and friendly than usual.
- Science Marches On: Unlike Doyle (and Holmes), the Russian scriptwriters knew that snakes are deaf, and the adaptation of "The Speckled Band" acknowledges and addresses the issue.
- Sherlock Scan: Use straight quite often, naturally, but also subverted for comic effect. Just after Holmes manages a series of astute conclusions about Watson's disreputable brother based on his watch, he gives an incredibly detailed description of a random passerby. Watson, now thoroughly bemused, is willing to accept the results - at which point Holmes reveals the object of the scan to be his own brother, Mycroft.
- Smart People Play Chess: Holmes, sort of. He is smart, and he does play chess, but the context (a friendly game with Watson) is more in line with the Russian view of chess as a normal recreational activity.
- Spared By Adaptation: In the original books, Watson's wife dies during the time Holmes was faking his death. In the series, she isn't introduced until much later, and is still alive in the last part.
- Stoic Spectacles: Holmes wears little round reading glasses in a few scenes.
- Take That: To Arthur Conan Doyle, of all people. In the episode incorporating "The Speckled Band," Watson correctly points out that snakes are deaf, and so the whistle-training on which the plot depends couldn't possibly work. To which Holmes responds, "I did not know that!"
- Took a Level in Kindness: Livanov's Holmes, while still restless, eccentric, and at times a bit of a Troll, is more gentlemanly and less troubled than some incarnations of the character.