Archive for category Sherlock

Interview, Part 1: Bonnie MacBird, Author of ‘Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure’

Photo of Bonnie MacBird

Courtesy of Bonnie MacBird

Bonnie MacBird visited the Virginia Festival of the Book to promote her latest book, Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure. Her long career as a screenwriter, producer, and director includes the screenplay for the original TRON as well as three Emmy Awards and eleven Cine Golden Eagle Awards. A lifelong Sherlockian, MacBird lives in Los Angeles and takes frequent trips to London.

Is this your first time at the Virginia Festival of the Book?

Yes, it’s my first time and I love it! I’m very impressed with Charlottesville. It’s beautiful. The whole town and the festival itself are quite impressive.

I know you have a background as a screenwriter, producer, and actress. You’ve put on a Sherlock Holmes play, The Blue Carbuncle. What was the transition like from screenwriting to novel writing?

My background is in the movie business. I’ve been 35 years in the entertainment business in Los Angeles. I started as a studio exec. I did development and that meant reading literally thousands of scripts. I think during that very formative time in my career, I got many lessons on story structure by doing that and working on screenplays, which are highly structured pieces of writing. Then I was a screenwriter for a number of years. I was the original writer of the movie, TRON, and then did a bunch of other scripts that sold. Read the rest of this entry »


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Benedict Cumberbatch and Ian McKellen Strike Similar Poses for ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Mr. Holmes’ Promos

Earlier this week, the BBC released an official promotional photo for their hit series, “Sherlock.” There’s still a few months to go before fans across the world can enjoy the Victorian special. However, the anticipation is still running strong, particularly with Steven Moffat on the scene for San Diego Comic Con. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the co-creator and writer admitted that he would be on board with crossing “Sherlock” with “Doctor Who.”

The new photo, as released on Twitter, depicts Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson in Victorian dress. Radio Times has a nice piece that dissects all the possible clues from their outfits. In the same EW interview, Moffat insists that he doesn’t need to explain the shift from modern London to Victorian London. In that sense, it’s almost like he’s doing a fan fiction number on his own work. Just look at any site with fan fiction: a number of writers don’t give reasons for the alternate universes or settings that they craft for their favorite characters. So why should we expect the same from Team “Sherlock”? It’s also a roundabout way of getting back to the Conan Doyle Canon, at least in attire and culture, which is already set in the Victorian era.

Promo Photos for "Sherlock" and "Mr. Holmes"

Official tweets with awfully similar photos, sans Watson, of course.

July is a big month for Sherlock Holmes media. “Mr. Holmes,” the feature film starring Ian McKellen, hits US theaters on July 17th. Ian McKellen posted a promotional photo of himself as the celebrated detective last month. Let’s put that photo next to one of Cumberbatch and Freeman. Unfortunately, we’ll have to leave Watson out of the picture (excuse the wordplay) for the comparison. Notice that Cumberbatch and McKellen mirror each other quite nicely in their photos. McKellen pivots slightly more in his armchair but the similarity remains striking, nonetheless!

While you’re waiting for the “Sherlock” special, be sure to check out “Mr. Holmes” in theaters next week.

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William Gillette’s Restored ‘Sherlock Holmes’ From 1916 is Quite a Cinematic Gem

“Sherlock Holmes” (1916) Closes Out “Mostly Lost 4” in Culpeper, Va. Photo: Pat Cuadros

If you’re in withdrawal over “Sherlock,” you’re probably looking forward to the upcoming wide release of “Mr. Holmes,” the film adaptation of Mitch Cullen’s “A Slight Trick of the Mind.” Believe me when I say that I share your anticipation and curiosity about how an older Holmes will hit the big screen, particularly under the hand of the masterful Sir Ian McKellen. However, “Mr. Holmes” is not the only film about the Great Detective that has been circulating through the film festival avenues this year.

“Sherlock Holmes,” the 1916 silent feature from celebrated American actor William Gillette, was thought to be forever lost until it was found at Cinémathèque Française last October. It was painstakingly restored in a joint effort by a team including Robert Byrne, president of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, his colleagues there, and historians at Cinémathèque Française. “Sherlock Holmes” made its East Coast premiere on Saturday night at “Mostly Lost 4,” a series of workshops and screenings on silent films. The series is presented by the Library of Congress, which handles initiatives on film preservation.


The version of “Sherlock Holmes” that comes to us today is not the original English one, but rather from reels sent to France in 1919 after World War I. Byrne delivered opening remarks at the State Theater in Culpeper, Va., to a packed house and detailed the level of disrepair on those negatives. Here’s his video comparing original footage to the new digital frames after the restoration process:

Even if you didn’t grow up watching classic film marathons (I did), you’ll be astonished by the high quality results of this restoration. The restored film even has the tints applied: orange for interior scenes and blue for outdoor and nighttime shots. The Stebney gas chamber sequence still comes across as very dark, but it’s amazing that the heavily damaged segment was able to be saved. I think the darker areas in that scene actually heightened the suspense.

William Gillette in 1918. Photo: Library of Congress

William Gillette in 1918. Photo: Library of Congress

Sorry, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss: The French Were First

We only have the original French titles and intertitles, which were themselves poor translations of the 1916 release by Essanay Films. Byrne and his associates were faced with the challenge of making new title cards, using the extant French ones. The film is based off of Gillette’s 1899 play, which meant that the team could utilize that text as a resource to preserve the tone that the actor and playwright had intended. The play is certainly worth a read, too.

Interestingly enough, Holmes is referred to as “Sherlock” by other characters in the 1919 French translation, thereby beating “Sherlock” co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss by nearly 100 years. Jokes aside for the moment, I think many Sherlockians will breathe a sigh of relief over Byrne’s ultimate decision to use “Holmes” instead of “Sherlock.” 1916 is a bit early to hit “Sherlock” mode, though you’ll find Gillette’s creation to be just as fresh and clever. I should mention that Moffat and Gatiss appear in the opening credits of the film, as contributors to the restoration project.

How Does Gillette’s Detective Fare?

“You may marry him, murder him, or do anything you like to him,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle famously replied when Gillette asked for permission to take liberties with the detective. Thankfully, Gillette does not resort to a Reichenbach Falls moment in both the 1899 play and the 1916 film. “Sherlock Holmes” draws some plot points from a few of the short stories, pulling a substantial amount from “A Scandal in Bohemia.” Holmes (Gillette) tries to retrieve compromising letters from Alice Faulkner (the delightful Marjorie Kay), whose deceased sister had a connection to a prince. The Larabees (Mario Majeroni and Grace Reals) are after the letters, too. They request assistance from the Napoleon of Crime, Professor Moriarty (Ernest Maupain).

Gillette was 63 years old when he portrayed Holmes in his first and only film role. As seen above, he was still in remarkable form as Holmes (who is supposed to be in his 40s). It must have been amazing to watch the great man himself onstage.

Advertisement for the Sherlock Holmes Play, Starring William Gillette. Photo: Library of Congress

Ad for the Sherlock Holmes Play, Starring William Gillette.   Photo: Library of Congress

Gillette commands the attention of the viewer with a powerful performance, sliding into the various mannerisms of Holmes with ease. He looks intently at his surroundings to exhibit Holmes’ keen methods of deduction, appears listless at times, and warmly carries on a conversation with Dr. Watson (Edward Fielding). Yet, none of these instances would strike viewers as overdone or cliche. Sherlockians may groan at one particular aspect: Gillette threw in a love interest for Holmes. Debates aside about Holmes’ love life or lack thereof, it works out fine (though perhaps comically to some).

The film is quite brilliant with its mix of both verbal and physical sparring. Gillette and director Arthur Berthelet really knew how to handle the pace of the two hour feature, moving effortlessly from serious to comedic moments within scenes. They even find a few ways to incorporate fire. The dialogue is handled wonderfully as well, further capturing both the witty and harder sides of Holmes that made the Canon so enjoyable to read.

Here are a couple of teasers:

– “I have a weakness for dawdling, the better to observe.”

– “Watson, would you kindly pull down the blind? I don’t care to be shot through the window.”

2015 is shaping up to be another great year for the legendary detective. If you don’t get an opportunity to catch a screening at a theater, “Sherlock Holmes” will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray in October (a year after the discovery of the lost film reels). That’s a purchase that is worth every penny.

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TV News: ‘Full Sherlock’ Teasers for Upcoming Special on BBC

Weeks ago, I highlighted the buzz surrounding the photo of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman dressed in what appeared to be Victorian garb. It was certainly reminiscent of the days of the Granada television series, which starred the late Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke.

Now Twitter is alive with hashtags for #Sherlock and even #setlock, a combination of Sherlock and set by fans who want to share their adventures from filming on the streets. The recent excitement concerns the appearance of Cumberbatch and Freeman in Victorian clothes in Gloucestershire Cathedral, as tweeted by sites like Entertainment Weekly:

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Sherlock Holmes Returns to Broadway in 2017

Ever since Sherlock Holmes made his debut in “A Study in Scarlet” in 1887, the sleuth and his faithful Watson have come to be everywhere. Right now, you can find the pair on “Sherlock” and “Elementary.” Let’s not forget the Robert Downey, Jr. series, now approaching the third installment, as well as the Ian McKellen project about the aging detective. Add to that list the recent news about a new Broadway production, set for 2017. wants to see Benedict Cumberbatch in the role, but so far we only know that Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel will be handling the writing. Cumberbatch would be a good choice for sure, playing interesting parts in the theater before like Frankenstein’s monster. In 2015, he’s set to portray that Great Dane, Hamlet. However, he may prefer to pursue roles in other films and television programs, which is a smart move to stay out of the trap of typecasting. Right now, you can see him in “Penguins of Madagascar,” “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” and “Imitation Game.”

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that an actor from a Sherlock Holmes television or film series donned the deerstalker onstage. Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett come to mind right away. Plays about Holmes and Watson have graced many stages since 1899. There’s even a play penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the original stories.

The 2017 Broadway production is being advertised as an “original” storyline, which remains to be seen as more details emerge. There’s a continual push to put a “new twist” on the old tales, of which the most successful in recent years is arguably “Sherlock.” One hopes that the new show on Broadway will actually stay true to atmosphere of the originals, cleverly weaving in familiar phrases instead of making mere caricatures of Holmes and Watson.

Stay tuned to TV Spyglass as more information gets released.

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TV Recap: Martin Freeman Crosses ‘The Hobbit’ with ‘The Office’ on ‘SNL’

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

In case you missed it, Martin Freeman (“Sherlock”) hosted “Saturday Night Live” on NBC last night. Like his “Sherlock” co-star, Benedict Cumberbatch, Freeman is everywhere in entertainment news on both UK and US fronts. The hosting gig coincides with this week’s release of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” the final installment of the series. The best skit was probably “The Office: Middle Earth,” which SNL is now referring to as “Hobbit Office.” You can view it below:

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New ‘Sherlock’ Photo Shows Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman Seizing Their Victorian Side

Caution: This news piece contains speculation and spoilers about “Sherlock.”

As Benedict Cumberbatch fans reel from the news of his recent engagement, there are more promising developments coming out about the “Sherlock” special. This promotional photo was released just hours ago today, showing Cumberbatch with a top hat and formal clothing that seems reminiscent of the attire sported by the late Jeremy Brett. Likewise, Martin Freeman’s bowler hat and brown suit call to mind Edward Hardwicke and David Burke from the same Granada TV series.

Today's tweet from the BBC. All rights belong to the BBC.

Today’s tweet from the BBC, first revealed by producer Sue Vertue. All rights and credit belong to the BBC.

Another tweet teased fans about the upcoming special with a photo of the cover page, which has evidently gone to a read through already. It’s set to begin filming in January 2015. CNET’s Bonnie Burton speculates that the period clothes indicate either time-travel or a costume party. As a third option, I think the production team could also be having fun with the fans, after a moment of “Say, what would they look like in the Victorian getup?” Though the popular series about the detective and doctor takes place in the present-day, it splendidly weaves together elements from many Conan Doyle stories at once.

What’s with the pointing by Sherlock there? Perhaps the gesture reminds you of the dramatic poses that would easily suit a Basil Rathbone or Peter Cushing promotional photo. Additionally, the “Sherlock” team could be taking a page out of another successful venture from Steven Moffat: yes, I’m referring to “Doctor Who.” Whatever the case, fans can look forward to seeing more of the devious Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott), according to Mark Gatiss. As the filming commences in 2015, it’ll be exciting to see the other tidbits that will hit the Twitter feed about our favorite residents of 221B Baker Street.

“Sherlock” airs on PBS and “BBC America” in the U.S.

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