55. Sherlock: The Hounds of Baskerville (2012, TV)

The Case: A man who witnessed his father mauled to death by a large beast decades earlier believes the canine creature may be back for seconds.

Doyle? Doyle! Based on The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)

Holmes and Watson? Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman

The most well-known of Doyle’s stories gets a modern-day update, and the result is a woefully under-baked excursion into the English countryside and the weakest episode of the popular BBC reboot. (Is it already clear that I’m not the biggest fan of Doyle’s most well-known Holmes tale?) The setup is familiar, but the effort to modernize the explanation falls flat leading to an embarrassingly bad CG hound that immediately knocks you out of the experience as you double over with laughter. It’s a howler for all the wrong reasons.

54. Sherlock Gnomes (2018)

The Case: When garden gnomes throughout London go missing only the greatest gnome detective can crack the case.

Doyle? Gno

“Holmes and Watson?” Johnny Depp and Chiwetel Ejiofor (voices)

This sequel to 2011’s Gnomeo & Juliet is a minor diversion to be sure with middling humor that rarely lands, but there are some nice beats on the Holmes front (despite him being voiced by Depp). We get a couple fun story twists, and the bits where we enter Holmes’ mind to see him work through a problem are fairly inspired as they revert to hand-drawn animation and show real creativity with an MC Escher-esque segment as he retrieves a memory being a real highlight. It ultimately feels far too designed for consumption, though, rather than real enjoyment.

53. Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)

The Case: Nazis are in pursuit of a talented inventor because they’re Nazis.

Doyle? Doyle! Based on “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” (1903)

Holmes and Watson? Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce

Holmes’ second foray into World War II action against the Nazis lacks everything that makes the first (The Voice of Terror, 1942) so damn great. Mystery and deductions don’t really kick in until late, and even then they’re minimal as the main thrust here is protecting the scientist from spies, the Gestapo, and Moriarty. Holmes is all about the disguises, though, so that’s something, and Rathbone & Bruce remain a good time.

52. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983, TV)

The Case: The American heir to a British estate finds it comes with a curse, a large dog, and some pesky quicksand.

Doyle? Doyle! Based on The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)

Holmes and Watson? Ian Richardson and Donald Churchill

Originally intended as one of six television movies starring Richardson as Holmes it instead fell victim to being overshadowed by the superior series headlined by Jeremy Brett (aka the best actor to have ever portrayed Holmes). Only two were produced with this being the lesser of the pair as it doesn’t bring much new or exciting to the story outside of the greatly charismatic Brian Blessed as a suspect in the mystery. It’s perfectly serviceable, but Churchill’s Watson is uninteresting which isn’t good news for the story in which he’s most active.

51. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

The Case: Years after Watson’s death his papers reveal a story too scandalous to tell during Holmes’ lifetime.

Doyle? Definitely not

Holmes and Watson? Robert Stephens and Colin Blakely

The normally reliable Billy Wilder seems set to take some mighty swings with this one – a bored Holmes, the suggestion that his drug addiction is fueled by an attempt to repress his homosexuality, the Loch Ness monster – but none of the elements come to strong conclusions. The monster bit at least offers up a mystery of sorts complete with little people, monks, and his brother Mycroft (Christopher Lee), but the rather bleak ending doesn’t quite match the odd tone and humor of what comes before. Entire scenes were apparently cut from the film, and as it stands it’s a bit lacking in flow and cohesion.

50. Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976, TV)

The Case: A boy close to Sherlock’s heart and groin is abducted, and billions of dollars in gold bars have been stolen… could Prof. Moriarty be behind both crimes?

Doyle? No

Holmes and Watson? Roger Moore and Patrick Macnee

The biggest appeal here is watching Moore navigate the role of Holmes in a made-for-TV movie while he was in the middle of his theatrical run as James Bond. He seems to making an effort to play the role quite seriously while Macnee delivers an idiot Watson and John Huston hams it up as Moriarty. Charlotte Rampling plays Irene Adler, and it’s her son – apparently Holmes’ son too – who’s kidnapped. There’s mild fun here due almost entirely to the cast as the script itself fails to spark much in the way of life with its clash between Holmes and Moriarty let alone in the reunion of Holmes and Adler.

49. The Sign of Four (1932)

The Case: A woman targeted by villains asks Sherlock for protection but she’s abducted anyway.

Doyle? Doyle! Based on The Sign of Four (1890)

Holmes and Watson? Arthur Wontner and Ian Hunter

Wontner’s second outing, 1932’s The Missing Rembrandt, is actually lost to time with no known copies of the film in existence, so this third feature is the current follow-up to Sherlock Holmes’ Fatal Hour (1931). It’s a step down in many ways as too much of time is spent with the villains – meaning less time with Holmes – and a good chunk of the third act is devoted to action rather than deduction. Both Holmes and Watson get in some good licks on the bad guys, and while Hunter (no relation) replaces Wontner’s usual sidekick he’s every bit as unmemorable as Ian Fleming. (How crazy is it that they found a second Ian to play Watson?)

48. The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes (1935)

The Case: A mysterious murder made to look like a suicide piques Sherlock’s curiosity.

Doyle? Doyle! Based on The Valley of Fear (1914)

Holmes and Watson? Arthur Wontner and Ian Fleming

The previous entry’s (The Sign of Four, 1932) detour into action is no more as Holmes once again exists solely as a thinker, and while it’s more traditional it also makes for a slightly better film. Slightly because Holmes and Watson still lack much in the way of chemistry with the latter feeling underwhelming at every turn. Moriarty is back too, both as a direct threat and the orchestrator of violence by others, but the film is hurt by a flashback that keeps Moriarty and Holmes off the screen for far too long.

47. Sherlock: The Six Thatchers (2017, TV)

The Case: A thief is breaking into homes and smashing busts of Thatcher’s head, and the perpetrator leads Sherlock into Mary’s past.

Doyle? Doyle! Loosely based on “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons” (1904)

Holmes and Watson? Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman

Part of the problem with the previous season’s reveal about Watson’s wife Mary’s (Amanda Abbington) secret super-spy past is the contrivance that comes along with it, and that’s nowhere more prevalent than in this, her final episode. It’s bad enough they introduced the idea, but rather than leave it be the show felt compelled to return to it *immediately* for cheap drama and emotion. It doesn’t work, though, and worse, the way she goes out is just annoying. No person, let a lone a top notch secret agent, would jump in front of someone to stop a bullet when they could just push that someone out of the way. Dumb.

46. Sherlock: The Empty Hearse (2014, TV)

The Case: A terrorist threat against the heart of London pulls Sherlock in one direction while attempts to reconcile with Watson pull him in the other.

Doyle? Doyle! Based on “The Adventure of the Empty House” (1903) and “The Story of the Lost Special” (1898)

Holmes and Watson? Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman

The biggest problem here is the episode’s disinterest in actually explaining how Holmes faked his death at the end “The Reichenbach Fall” (2012). It’s almost as if they know they wrote themselves into a corner with its structure and then decided to just brush it away. The lacking explanation could have been balanced by an intriguing story, but the bomb threat and time spent in the subway tunnel is equally underwhelming. The singular bright spot here is more time spent with the lovely Molly the mortician played by Louise Brealey.

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