Valley of Fear (1983)

2011 #64
Warwick Gilbert, Alex Nicholas & Di Rudder | 48 mins | DVD | 4:3 | Australia / English | U

Valley of FearI don’t recall how exactly I came across these animated Sherlock Holmes adaptations starring the voice of Peter O’Toole as the eponymous detective, or how I came to decide to view all of them, but it’s been almost four years since I reviewed the first… and three years since I reviewed the third. Now, finally, I get to the final episode. Such is the erraticism of using LOVEFiLM. (At least I have an excuse for my dawdling here — my incredibly slow viewing of all the Rathbone/Bruce Holmses is entirely my own tardiness.)

This series started decently for me, with a moderately promising adaptation of The Sign of Four, but then slid gradually downhill to an atrocious version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Valley of Fear isn’t as bad as that, but nor does it represent a massively significant increase in quality.

The negatives of the previous films still remain, primarily the weak ’80s TV animation. It’s not as badly designed as the bright-and-colourful version of Baskervilles, at least. O’Toole’s performance is nothing to write home about either. The story is perhaps the least-well-known of the four Holmes novels, and while it has its moments — mainly in clever deduction, often the best bit of any Holmes tale — this version is unlikely to change anyone’s mind on that fact.

Having quite liked the first of these adaptations that I saw, it’s a shame the other three haven’t lived up even to those expectations (it was only a three-star effort, after all). Ah well.

2 out of 5

Valley of Fear featured on my list of The Five Worst Films I Saw in 2011, which can be read in full here.

A Study in Scarlet (1983)

2007 #97
Ian Mackenzie & Alex Nicholas | 48 mins | DVD | U

A Study in ScarletPeter O’Toole is again the voice of the famous sleuth in this disappointing animated adaptation of the first Sherlock Holmes mystery.

The adaptation is faithful to the original novel’s structure (sadly, as it’s a somewhat bizarre one, and ripe for a more interesting interpretation), but loses any elements pertaining to Holmes and Watson’s first meeting. The animation seems more basic than the other entry in this particular series that I’ve seen, and O’Toole’s performance is flatter. The rest of the cast don’t fare any better. The story itself isn’t a bad one, but after being pleasantly surprised by The Sign of Four, I just found this to be disappointing.

2 out of 5

The Sign of Four (1983)

2007 #83
Ian Mackenzie & Alex Nicholas | 47 mins | DVD | U

The Sign of FourA slightly unusual one to review, this: it’s a 49-minute animated Sherlock Holmes adaptation from the ’80s, one of four in this particular series. But, as best I can tell from IMDb, it’s not specifically TV-based, and it does feature the voice of Peter O’Toole. Vocally he makes for a good Holmes, though the character design could be a little better. I can’t recall the original story well enough to comment on this as an adaptation, but it’s a decent mystery that’s well explained. The animation is not bad; certainly no worse than most kids’ TV animation from the ’80s and ’90s, and better than the flat Flash-animated stuff of today. A solid production.

3 out of 5