Monday, November 19, 2012

Review - "The Hound of the Baskervilles"

"Avoid the moor in those hours of darkness when evil is exalted." - The Hound of the Baskervilles
 After two very enjoyable full-length audio dramas ("Holmes and the Ripper" and "The Reification of Hans Gerber") as well as one hour-long recording of "The Speckled Band," Big Finish turned to the daunting prospect of bringing to life the most famous Sherlock Holmes story. Did the studio with such a good track record do Arthur Conan Doyle's masterpiece justice?

Coming into the production, Nicholas Briggs wanted to create a faithful adaptation of the novel without too many plot deviations. And that can certainly be said for Richard Dinnick's script. Big Finish's version is the closest that anyone has come to faithfully adapting the novel - aside from the BBC serial made in 1982 with Tom Baker as the detective. However, the problem with the 1982 serial was that it lacked suspense and made the proceedings seem rather dull. It would be imperative for Big Finish to faithfully adapt "Hound" while not making the story out to be dull. Did they do this? The answer is: Yes!

"The Hound of the Baskervilles" makes the story very interesting to listen to. Even in the scenes where Nicholas Briggs is absent, the atmosphere never lifts up. As usual, the sound effects and music create the majority of the atmosphere. In some ways, "Hound" is perfect for audio. It is the listener's imagination which can run away with itself creating the perfect atmosphere of the moors of Dartmoor near Devonshire. Furthermore, in the story's conclusion an accurate beast of a hound can be created - glowing green and spitting fire kept intact.

Richard Earl (left) and Nicholas Briggs (right)
in character
Nicholas Briggs and Richard Earl do not seem daunted by the prospect of starring in the most famed Sherlock Holmes story. I must commend Richard Earl especially here. His acting throughout the story is brilliant, and he really carries the majority of the tale. Never once during Watson's scenes on the moor did I feel bored and ready for Holmes' return. Richard Earl's Watson is an overlooked and very enjoyable interpretation of the good doctor.

My only nitpick about Big Finish's "Hound of the Baskervilles," is that the ending feels a bit too rushed. After Sherlock Holmes makes his reappearance in the story and the hound is killed the story just ends so abruptly. There isn't even a formal explanation of all the facts. And even though Big Finish's "Hound" is left somewhat open-ended for its sequel, "The Tangled Skein," that story does not answer any of the questions which are left open with this story. Even though that Richard Earl's scenes were fantastic as Watson, these segments could have been shortened or condensed.

However, in all, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" stands out as a remarkable addition to the Big Finish library. Their accomplishment of creating a faithful and exciting adaptation of "Hound" is remarkable indeed. 3.5 out of 5 is my judgement for Big Finish's very enjoyable adaptation.

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