Sunday, November 11, 2012

Review - "Holmes and the Ripper"

Something which I will do quite a bit on this blog is review any Sherlock Holmes-related items. And to get the ball rolling, I will begin with "Holmes and the Ripper" an audio drama from Big Finish Productions.

Big Finish Productions is the powerhouse behind a number of audio productions. They are perhaps most famous for the numerous dramas based off of "Doctor Who." In addition to the "Doctor Who" dramas, Big Finish is known for recordings based on "Dark Shadows" and more recently Sherlock Holmes. In 2009, Big Finish released two Holmes audio dramas, "Sherlock Holmes: The Last Act" and "Sherlock Holmes: The Death and Life" both featuring Roger Llewellyn as Holmes and scripted by David Stuart Davies, the former based off of his successful stage play. The following year, Big Finish revamped the series this time with Nicholas Briggs (the voice of the Daleks and the Cybermen on "Doctor Who") as Holmes and Richard Earl as Watson.

Adapted from his own play, Brian Clemens weaves an interesting and quite tangled skein in "Holmes and the Ripper." During the Autumn of 1888, London is plagued by a rash of terrible murders all being committed by Jack the Ripper. Sherlock Holmes soon becomes embroiled in the investigation and learns that there is more to these murders than meets the eye.

The poster for "Holmes and the Ripper"
which debuted in 1988
Debuting in 1988 marking the Ripper murder's 100th anniversary, "Holmes and the Ripper" was written by Brian Clemens for the stage and based in part on Stephen Knight's book, "Jack the Ripper - The Final Solution." If you are unfamiliar with the controversial book, I will not spoil the outcome since it would give away out the outcome of this audio recording. However, the brilliant television mini-series, "Jack the Ripper" with Michael Caine and the Holmes/Ripper movie, "Murder by Decree" use the same plot device.

On a whole, "Holmes and the Ripper" is very nicely executed. The music and sound effects heighten suspense and add greatly to the recording. The acting is also very nicely done too. Nicholas Briggs makes for a wonderful Sherlock Holmes - perhaps a bit too stilted - but one must remember this was his first effort playing the character. Richard Earl is very nice as Watson. He comes across a bit too bumbling in this venture, but mellows out in further installments. Actress India Fisher is very convincing as Miss Katherine Mead, a medium who acts as Holmes' assistant in this venture.

My greatest nitpick about the story is the fact that Holmes is presented as becoming romantically involved with Miss Mead. If this was not enough, Holmes' judgement is clouded by his love for Katherine Mead and takes her visions as gospel. It was all wrong for Holmes to believe in anything irrational. "The world is big enough for us - no ghosts need apply" he says in "The Sussex Vampire." Furthermore, these characteristics make this overall well-done story out-of-place in the rest of the series.

To sum up, "Holmes and the Ripper" boosts wonderful performances from all concerned. One must remember when listening to this installment that this was Big Finish's first foray into a Sherlock Holmes audio drama series. Things evened themselves out by the series' next installment which I will review in the near future. "Holmes and the Ripper" is rewarded a hardy 3.5 out 5.

Included is a link to Big Finish's website where one can peruse the many audio recordings as well as listen to trailers and shop for recordings.

http://www.bigfinish.com/


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