Based on character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Developed for television by Bob Shayne
What the hell were they smoking?
The Great One himself, the one and only SHERLOCK HOLMES is defrosted (after eighty years of suspended animation, of course) by his great-great-great-niece JANE WATSON after discovering his frozen body in a basement in England in the lighthearted The Return of Sherlock Holmes, a 1987 made-for-television movie.
Yes, she’s Watson’s descendant (it’s complicated). And she just so happens to be a private investigator herself, living in Boston and not exactly setting the world on fire, so naturally she brings her great-great-great uncle back to the United States, and they team up to solve crimes.
The premise is outrageous, the thing is chockfull of anachronisms and there of a couple of plot holes you could drive a hansom cab through, but the cast is great, the plot zigs and zags, and the whole thing is actually kinda funny and entertaining. Which, thank God, is what they were aiming for.
Michael Pennington is no Christopher Plummer or Basil Rathbone, but surprisingly he makes for a pretty decent Holmes, and Margaret Colin (who would show up later the same year starring as a less gimmicky Los Angeles private eye in Leg Work) makes for an appealing Watson (Sorry, Nigel).
And the producers get a thumbs-up for at least respecting the source material enough to slip in a few inside jokes and shout-outs, and for submitting the script to Sean M. Wright, a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, an organization of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts founded in 1934, for review.
Intended as a pilot for a potential series, the film got generally favorable reviews, but was never picked up. Perhaps because CBS was already grooming Colin for Leg Work?
- A 1993 television film, 1994 Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Returns, also from CBS and starring Anthony Higgins and Debrah Farentino, had a nearly identical premise and set-up, although the plot was quite different.
- THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Premiere: January 10, 1987
Based on characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Written by Bob Shayne
Directed by Kevin Connor
Starring Michael Pennington as SHERLOCK HOLMES
and Margaret Colin as JANE WATSON
Also starring Barry Morse, Daniel Benzali, Connie Booth, Nicholas Guest, William Hootkins, Paul Maxwell
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.