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The review is copyright Charles Prepolec 2001. Images and synopsis are copyright Hallmark Channel and are used here for informational and publicity purposes only. Publicity images from 'Sherlock Holmes in The Royal Scandal' are used with permission of the Hallmark Channel and may not be reproduced without permission. No rights are given or implied. To arrange for removal of any infringing material please contact the webmaster.
Sherlock Holmes in The Royal Scandal: Reviewed
Image copyright  2001 Bohemia Productions (Muse) Inc and Crown Media United States, LLC
Sherlock Holmes in 'The Royal Scandal begins with the Crown Prince of Bohemia hiring Sherlock Holmes  to retrieve a compromising photograph featuring the Crown Prince and a beautiful opera singer, Miss Irene Adler, in a potentially embarrassing situation. Miss Adler is blackmailing the Crown Prince who is scheduled to marry the Princess of Scandinavia.

Holmes, unbeknownst to both Watson and the Crown Prince, has encountered Miss Alder previously and is familiar with her beauty and treachery. He agrees to take the case. Holmes' older brother Mycroft, who serves as Her Majesty's Chief of Intelligence, immediately visits Holmes and inquires about the Crown Prince's visit and Sherlock must decide whether to trust his brother or not. Mycroft assures Sherlock of his discretion and requests that Sherlock turn over the photo to him. Sherlock refuses, but promises to share additional information.
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Plot Synopsis:
After Mycroft's visit, Holmes, in disguise as a groomsmen, travels to Irene Adler's neighborhood. He encounters Wiggins, leader of the celebrated Baker Street Irregulars, a gang of boys who often go undercover for Holmes, to find out what activity has been happening around Adler's home. Wiggins reports that Adler received a visit from a nervous young man carrying an envelope. When Holmes goes to the window, he sees the young man, Cadogan West, slip Ms. Adler the envelope. West leaves Miss Adler's apartment and Holmes follows him undetected until he arrives at the British Naval Office of Strategic Procurement. Holmes realizes that Miss adler is involved with more than mere blackmail.

Holmes visits Miss Adler, disguised as a simple-minded clergymen, to retrieve the photo and to discover the rest of the mystery. When he is able to get it from her, Holmes slips Watson the photo out the window and Watson hides it. Holmes returns to his brother Mycroft to update him about the young man's visit as well as his success in retrieving the photo. Mycroft reluctantly discloses that the Crown Prince may be after more than just Miss adler's photo and that he is looking for secret architectural plans for a submarine the British Naval Department are developing.

Holmes returns home to find Adler waiting for him so she can retrieve the photo. She initially threatens to shoot him, then attempts to seduce him, but holmes explains that he does not have the photo. Watson bursts into Holmes' office to tell him the photo has been stolen from his club. Adler, who is now fearful, flees and Holmes and Watson move forward to try and locate the photo and uncover the mystery of the Royal Scandal...
Review by Charles Prepolec
Above plot synopsis from Hallmark's Press Kit
"Third time is the charm" they say...well, unfortunately that is not quite the truth in this case, although Sherlock Holmes in The Royal Scandal demonstrates a marked improvement over the previous two entries in this Canadian-made series. Whereas the first two, HOUN and SIGN, suffered by direct comparisons to Arthur Conan Doyle's text and previous film/television versions, this third entry in the series doesn't suffer from the same strict criteria as it is an embellished amalgam of two short stories, namely A Scandal in Bohemia and The Bruce-Partington Plans. Many elements of SCAN are quite strictly adhered to, although Holmes previous familiarity with La Adler is certainly a new twist, one that incidentally works surprisingly well within the context of this program. We are given the visit to Baker Street by the disguised Crown Prince, the street ruffian sequence, Holmes in disguise - as both the unkempt groom and simple-minded clergyman, the smoke-bomb ruse, etc...all with reasonable fidelity to the source material. However, throughout all this there is a more sinister tone with the use of Mycroft (characterized very much along the same lines as in  Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes) and elements of the spy plot derived from BRUC. While not as faithful to the story of BRUC, key elements such as the death of Cadogan West and the train bit are utilized, and fairly effectively too. In the end though, the whole thing felt more like a Maltese Falcon/Hammett - type story than a version of Conan Doyle, with the chase for the McGuffin (the photo) taking up the bulk of the story, plus the sort of Detective/Gangster-moll relationship element, and the muddled espionage plot (that you care less and less about as the story progresses).  Yet somehow, it all seemed to come together better than in either of the previous two entries in the series.

So what about the actors? Well, Liliana Komoroswka presents a perfectly acceptable Irene Adler...beautiful, tenacious and clever. Although Adler is distinctly Polish in this version, the Polish-American accents fits nicely. R. H. Thomson had me almost wishing that he had been playing Sherlock Holmes rather than Mycroft! Fine accent and calm delivery with a hawk-like nose that gave him a distinctly sherlockian profile. Strangely, he had me thinking of William Gillette - in appearance. Too slender and devious for a canonical Mycroft, but certainly an acceptable foil to Frewer's Sherlock. Which brings me back to the Frewer and Welsh. Welsh had a few good minor scenes and seems to be carrying on as he intended...to deliver a solid and not in the least bit dim Watson. His deductive sequence in the morgue is exceptionally good.  Finally, Matt Frewer...what can I say? He is still mugging shamelessly and exuding an annoyingly smug air, but in the flashback sequences to Holmes first encounter with Adler and in the quieter moments with Mycroft, he comes off much better than in any of the previous films. Sure the accent is still out to lunch, and he looks decidedly odd most of the time, but in spite of myself, I found that I could enjoy elements of his performance within the framework of this story.

So in the end I'd say it's worth watcing and you just might be surprised by
Sherlock Holmes in The Royal Scandal, and if not, well...you've probably seen worse!