I've recently been watching all the Granada television episodes of The Return of Sherlock Holmes starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes. (They're available now on Netflix for instant watching - how cool is that?) The Return...has some of my favorite adaptations of Holmes' stories, including the wonderful moment in The Empty House, when Holmes turns up back in his Baker Street flat after several years of being presumed dead, and almost gives Watson an apoplexy. Watching the two friends reunite after such a long time (Watson believing Holmes dead) is still one of my favorite moments on film. Edward Hardwicke as Watson is especially good in this episode as well. (I believe that's David Burke as Watson in the above middle photograph. He played Watson in several of the early episodes. I liked him a bit better than Hardwick, but I eventually came around.)
I am discovering again just how much I'd admired the troubled Jeremy Brett's singular and agonized portrayal of Holmes. To me he is the ultimate Holmes, even more so than Basil Rathbone, much as I loved (and still love) Rathbone's portrayal in the 1940's films. Those films though, were only loosely based on the Holmes' canon (some of the screenplays made no sense at all, but that's another story...), they were mostly fun to watch (and I still do) only because of Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. (I always forgave Bruce for making Watson such a bumbling duffer. There was just something about Bruce that made you forgive him anything.)
In the Granada series with Jeremy Brett as Holmes, the stories try to stick as close to the Arthur Conan Doyle originals as possible and the production values are painstaking - the Victorian era (and the melodrama) comes alive. Brett's uncanny portrayal of the Holmes I remember and admire from the stories makes this series glow. He is, simply put, brilliant.
This is the Sherlock Holmes of my dreams.