Several years ago, I wrote a series of essays for the newsletter of the Austin, TX Sherlock Holmes Society on Jeremy Brett’s Granada series. I didn’t make it to the end of the series, but I recall I covered quite a bit of ground, relying heavily on Michael Cox’ excellent, A Study in Celluloid.
Below is something I wrote up on The Mazarin Stone but never used.
The Mazarin Stone is justifiably considered one of the weakest stories in the Canon. It was based upon an earlier play written by Doyle, The Crown Diamond. The play is even worse than the short story.
Producer June Wyndham Davies was captain of a sinking ship headed towards the rocks. Jeremy Brett had been hospitalized when he collapsed during a party after completion of The Dying Detective. Davies had already had to make the first episode of The Memoirs (The Golden Pince Nez) without Watson, since Edward Hardwicke was filming Shadowlands. Now she was forced to make a Sherlock Holmes episode without Sherlock Holmes! As she had done before, she turned to Charles Gray as Mycroft.
The Mazarin Stone has been held up as an example of the worst of Grenada’s series. This is an unfair characterization. There are several good aspects of the episode. Gary Hopkins had won the prestigious Edgar Award for his Devil’s Foot script. That must have seemed an eternity ago to him as The Memoirs required him to write a script first without Watson, then another without Holmes. He actually does a reasonably good job of combining The Mazarin Stone with The Three Garridebs.
Hopkins cuts out all the nonsense involving a bust of Holmes and a recording of a violin playing, which is the key to Doyle’s original Mazarin Stone story. Holmes makes a brief appearance at the start of the episode, apparently haunted by the incident at Reichenbach Falls and heading off to the high ands for a case. He tells Watson that he will be watching him with his “third eye.” Definitely not vintage Doyle.
Watson is led to investigate the strange case of the three Garridebs. The spinster Garrideb sisters are reminiscent of Cary Grant’s aunts in Arsenic and Old Lace. Meanwhile, Mycroft is filling in for Sherlock and hunting down the Mazarin Stone, which he is certain has been stolen by Count Negretto Sylvius. The cases intertwine and it is Mycroft with Watson when he is wounded by John Garrideb, a famous scene from the Canon.
A plus for this episode is that Watson has a significant part and Edward Hardwicke excels, as he always does when given the opportunity. Charles Gray is a classic Mycroft and fills the Sherlock void admirably. While Mycroft Holmes is most often perceived as lazy and lacking any desire to investigate matters, Doyle does have him investigating outside of London in The Greek Interpreter and The Engineer’s Thumb, so it is not totally inconceivable that he would be forced to act in Sherlock’s absence. It is unforgivable, however, for Lord Cantlemere and Mycroft to have a loud conversation inside the Diogenes Club. That’s what the Stranger’s Room is for!
After some hocus pocus in the fog, following which Mycroft recovers the Mazarin Stone, Sherlock appears briefly. The intro and ending scenes were filmed after everything else was done and Jeremy Brett looks absolutely terrible, even though he is not shown in full light. He would only make one more appearance as Sherlock Holmes
On the negative side for the purists, the script is a hodgepodge collection of bits from the two stories it drew on. For a series that had started out with amazing fidelity to the Canon, it signified that there was very little left to offer. Also, Peter Hammond once again goes crazy with mirrors, reflections and shots through glass. The bizarre elements of mysticism seem out of place and the introduction was co-written by Brett who simply wasn’t himself anymore.
(Silly me. I wrote this a few weeks ago but forgot to post it)