The Sherlock Holmes Collection (1968) (A&E) – Peter Cushing first played Sherlock Holmes in the Hammer Films version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, a gothic take on the classic Holmes novel directed by Terence Fisher. It was dream casting, not just visually (his gaunt face and hawklike profile made him the heir apparent to Basil Rathbone) but temperamentally; he seems to be the very embodiment of science and reason (attributes that made him such a great Van Helsing in the Dracula series).
Which makes this discovery such a find. Cushing returned to the role of the greatest detective in the late sixties BBC series Sherlock Holmes. Only six episodes survive and they have been collected in this three-disc set, which is headlined by the two-part adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles (Cushing’s second take on the famous tale) and includes faithful adaptations of Conan Doyle classics The Sign of Four and A Study in Scarlet among the episodes. Cushing is a hearty Holmes and his friendship with the observant and intelligent (if not nearly so brilliant) Watson (Nigel Stock) grounds the show. This show is produced in the familiar BBC manner, with studio scenes shot on video and location footage on film, but it’s a convention that fans of vintage British TV have become accustomed to and the shows look quite good on the A&E discs. Six episodes on three discs, plus the featurette “Sherlock Holmes: The Great Detective.”