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Murder Rooms: The Dark
Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes
Elementary, My Dear Doyle! Sherlock's Creator Learns the Ropes in Murder Rooms: The Dark Beginnings Of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle is back with his sleuthing mentor, Dr. Joseph Bell, the real-life model for Sherlock Holmes, in four new episodes of Murder Rooms: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes, airing Mondays, July 22 through August 12, 2002 at 9pm on PBS. Based on the actual friendship between the budding doctor-turned mystery author and his sagacious surgery professor at the University of Edinburgh Medical School, Murder Rooms stars Charles Edwards (Bertie & Elizabeth) as young Doyle and Ian Richardson (House of Cards trilogy, Gormenghast) as the venerable Dr. Bell.

The May 2000 MYSTERY! premiere of the Murder Rooms pilot saw Doyle initiated into the mysteries of observation and analysis by Dr. Bell, who supplemented his teaching duties with crime solving for the local police and even for the crown. Initially skeptical, Doyle learned that the slimmest of clues often speak volumes about a case -- if only one knows how to read them.

In the new series, Doyle's education deepens -- and so does the danger he finds himself in.

Episode 1, The Patient's Eyes (July 22), opens with Doyle in private practice with Dr. Turnevine (Alexander Armstrong), a cheat and a charlatan. Turnevine's attempt to frame Doyle for theft is foiled when Dr. Bell appears on the scene. Not so easily solved is the mysterious malady afflicting Heather Grace (Katie Blake), one of Doyle's patients. She swears that a death-like figure is following her on a bicycle. Doyle lays a trap and sees the figure, but cannot catch it.

In the search for the phantom cyclist, Turnevine's assistant, Baynes (Simon Quarterman), disappears and later is found dead, buried in the ground up to his neck. Then Heather's unctuous fiancé, Greenwell, also turns up dead. By the time Heather herself vanishes, Dr. Bell has deduced exactly where to find her.

In Episode 2, The Photographer's Chair (July 29), mutilated corpses are showing up in the Thames. Each has been asphyxiated, with signs of bruising around the throat, ankles, chest, and at the base of the skull. Oddly enough, each victim also is terminally ill.

Dr. Bell and Doyle are soon on the trail of a suspect, whom Doyle accompanies to a séance. Though the spirit realm does not divulge any new clues, it does provide for Doyle a spooky encounter with his deceased fiancée (who died in the series pilot). Seeking more such meetings, Doyle enters the esoteric world of the occult, guided by a devotee who employs the latest scientific techniques combined with the methods of the Spanish Inquisition.

Episode 3, The Kingdom of Bones (August 5), opens with a cabinet of curiosities where museum curator Reuben Proctor (Crispin Bonham Carter) shows Doyle his latest acquisition: an Egyptian mummy. Dr. Bell arranges for a prominent anatomist to unwrap the ancient artifact in public. Unfortunately, beneath the bandages is a fresh corpse.

When Proctor commits suicide, Doyle discovers in his pocket the card of Heywood Donovan (Ian McNeice), a Canadian art collector eager to solve the riddle of the mummy. Donovan has a stunningly beautiful daughter in Gladys (Carolyn Carver), and a spectacularly careless estate worker who mishandles dynamite in trying to remove a tree stump. When Dr. Bell reexamines the mummy's corpse, he puts two and two together.

Episode 4, The White Knight Stratagem (August 12), pits Doyle against Dr. Bell himself, as each comes to a different conclusion about the case of two murdered men who both knew a woman suicide victim. Dr. Bell is outnumbered, since an old police acquaintance -- and adversary -- has propounded the theory accepted by Doyle. Is the policeman's "phantom lover" hypothesis correct? Or has he been blinded by the desire to out-detect his old antagonist?

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