Contemporary television feels like an endless tide of hot new thing after hotter, newer thing. I find the faux-urgency of it genuinely stressful. I love television, but I hate obligations, so I find myself retreating into the medium’s past, to shows which, pending an ill-advised reboot or two, don’t feel like they come with a deadline. And very little comes with less of a deadline than a Soviet adaptation of Sherlock Holmes from the 1970s and ‘80s.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is usually called a series of TV movies, but I’m not sure why: each of the five “TV movies” aired separated into either two or three episodes, making them pretty normal TV seasons by European standards. Despite Vasily Livanov being given an MBE for his portrayal of Holmes, the show isn’t talked about or remembered much in the English-speaking world, at least outside of Holmes fanatics. It will appear and disappear onto YouTube every so often, and you can stream it if you pay to join Soviet Movies Online, a specialist streaming service for Soviet cinema. But it’s not going to show up on Netflix or generate a hundred articles announcing it on entertainment news websites if it did. But as it turns out, it’s one of the best TV shows there is.Continue reading “The Joys of Soviet Sherlock Holmes (and Dr. Watson)”