Sherlock in Retrospect: The Hounds of Baskerville
By David Selby.
The Hound of the Baskervilles was a good novel. It wasn’t my favourite; in places it felt unlikely and/or overcomplicated. I’m not a fan of the portrayal of the hound – essentially, it’s shown as some sort of demonic beast – whereas in reality, it’s just an ordinary animal. The description is sensationalised, and it feels rather like a translation of Victorian values – values which I’ve never found myself able to respect. In other places, it worked; it was descriptive and often amusing – and, of course, illustrious. Everyone has heard of The Hound of the Baskervilles.
I feel rather the same way about the TV adaptation. It doesn’t drag to the same extent as The Blind Banker, but there are elements which I dislike. The portrayal of Sherlock himself, for instance, is poor – it may be decent, but it’s a meagre comparison to its predecessor, A Scandal in Belgravia. Similarly, Dr Stapleton’s treatment of her daughter’s rabbit is callous – not just towards the innocent creature, but towards her daughter, in many ways. She’s presented as likable, and you do like her, which I feel is wrong. Granted, if I wasn’t such an enthusiast for animal rights, I wouldn’t be kicking up to the same extent, but I don’t feel there’s any kind of dénouement with the character.
It was a pleasure to see some familiar names from Conan Doyle’s original come up, such as Dr Stapleton, Mortimer and Frankland – and, I suppose, it’s rewarding to see, once a year, a story which is nearly identical to its inspirations.
The Mind Palace is spectacular thanks to some superb editing, and it’s times like this where Sherlock (and Cumberbatch) shines. He’s an intellect; you can see it from the bar scene, or from his successful attempt at hacking Barrymore’s computer. The relationship between Sherlock and John, too, is golden: the former ultimately knows he doesn’t really deserve what he has. It begins to build up to the finale; to strengthen the bonds between the lead characters.
I don’t really have any significant issues with The Hounds of Baskerville, and in terms of intrigue and mystery, it’s possibly the best of the lot. However, I just don’t quite feel enthralled into the atmosphere of the piece. Whether it’s the directing, the writing or the cinematography (which is mixed – often quite captivating), I’m unsure – but the novel, in my eyes, has a consistently darker, more mysterious ambiance which does wonders for the narrative itself.
Catch up on the other articles in this series: