Saturday, January 10, 2015

Big Finish - The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes

The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes, written by Jonathan Barnes and directed by Ken Bentley.

The third of three recent special releases from Big Finish. Dark Eyes 3 was terrific, Frankenstein was sublime, can Holmes possibly match their high standard? This box set goes some way to explaining what Holmes did in the gap years between the Reichenbach Falls and his return to London. It links Dr Watson, Mycroft Holmes, Inspector Lestrade and the Great Detective himself as their different adventures are revealed to be linked by the fight against a sinister secret society. The story shifts across the globe as the characters try and unravel the mystery that threatens to disrupt everything the British Empire holds dear.

It's a clever juggling act to have the well known double act of Holmes and Watson separated but somehow working on the same case. Barnes manages to keep all the plates spinning and still give us all of the cracking moments of action, adventure and criminal deduction that we want from a Sherlock Holmes story. There are some terrific battles of wills as our heroes clash with the villains and try and decide the fate of England with their verbal sparring. A radio play is the perfect setting for these philosophical debates between good and evil, and interestingly here the main battle takes us all the way back to the birth of philosophical study. Well done, Mr Barnes.

Nicholas Briggs and Richard Earl are now firmly ensconced as my favourite incarnations of Holmes and Watson. They just sound perfect for the parts and deliver tremendous performances. They are ably supported by a great cast with Tim Bentinck and Jemma Churchill standing out as Mycroft Holmes and Helena Eidelmann respectively.

As ever the sound design and music are brilliant and it's all delivered with the usual high standard we expect from Big Finish. If I have any quibble it might be that the scene between Sherlock and Mycroft were they try to outdo each other with their deductive powers in a restaurant probably strayed over the line into improbability, but it wouldn't be a Homes story without some imposible feat of mental acuity.

Overall it's smashing package and my favourite of the three recent releases. Impossible to give it less than five stars.

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