In one of his most exotic adventures, Sherlock Holmes encounters
some lost treasure, a murderous pigmy, a mysterious pair of
twins, and a beautiful but wronged woman with whom Watson
falls in love...
with the previous volume's A Study in Scarlet, The
Sign of Four has been compacted from a full-length novel
to a 50-minute episode. As a result, Michael and Mollie Hardwick's
dramatisation flies by at a rate of knots, though some elements,
including the contribution made by Toby the dog (played by
Toddy), have been pared down to almost nothing in the process.
are all manner of strange characters in this intriguing tale,
including the eccentric twins Thaddeus and Bartholomew Sholto
(Paul Daneman), the one-legged Jonathan Small (Howard Goorney),
and the murderous pigmy Tonga (Zena Keller). It's also quite
remarkable how much tea Mary Morstan (Ann Bell) is seen to
guzzle throughout this episode!
Special mention should be made of Nigel Stock, whose performance
as the infatuated Watson is really quite touching.
Holmes declines an assignment to locate a missing gem, the
Blue Carbuncle. However, the jewel crosses the detective's
path due to what he describes as "one of those whimsical little
incidents which will happen when you have four million human
beings all jostling each other within the space of a few square
broadcast on December 23, 1968 and with a yuletide setting,
there is a distinctly festive feel to The Blue Carbuncle,
which is, in my opinion, the best of the surviving Cushing
episodes. Humorous touches include some nicely played sight
gags involving Holmes and Watson, and larger than life characters
including the pompous Lady Morcar (Madge Ryan) and the hot-tempered
stallholder Breckinridge (Michael Robbins). Adding to the
celebratory mood are passing references to two of Holmes's
greatest cases, A Scandal in Bohemia (via a name check
of Irene Adler) and The Hound of the Baskervilles.
And just in case anyone ever thought that Peter Cushing was
too softly spoken to play Sherlock Holmes, check out his angry
outburst towards the end of this story.
only things that let this episode down slightly are a few
vinyl scratches on the stock music that opens the show and
a rather stilted performance by two times Doctor Who Time
Lord Clyde Pollitt as the Police Sergeant.
There are no extras on the disc, but the DVD is worth its
very reasonable asking price for these excellent episodes
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