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MIKE is leading. REDH is always a fan favorite, whether because of the ridiculous premise or the gullible victim, Jabez Wilson. Even Holmes and Watson couldn't contain themselves and comported themselves most unprofessionally when they guffawed in Wilson's face. We do see Holmes in top form, especially in the set piece where he "deciphers" his client. And it is the story that gives us the "three-pipe problem". ACD placed the story on his 1927 list of twelve favorites. Thrifty Scot that he was, he re-used the basic plot just a year and a half later in "The Stockbroker's Clerk", collected in the Memoirs. REDH was the fourth Canonical story. It appeared in the Strand in August 1891, then was collected in the Adventures which was published in October 1892 in both the UK and the US, albeit by different publishing houses, but both used the Paget illustrations from the Strand. There have been six film adaptation and many radio versions. Granada filmed a good, fairly Canonical version in 1985, the second season, when David Burke was still playing Watson. They took the liberty of throwing Moriarty into the mix as the mastermind behind the crime perpetrated by his protégé, John Clay. It doesn't really hurt the production and set up "The Final Problem" nicely.
JAMES is the leader. COPP has long been beloved of many a Sherlockian, yet it didn't make the cut when, in June 1927, ACD listed his twelve favorite Canonical stories. (The Strand ran a contest to see whether any readers could match, or come close, that list and claim a prize of 100 pounds and an autographed copy of ACD's memoir, "Thoughts and Adventures".) That was the last time he wrote anything about his most famous creation; he died three years later without having broached the subject again in print. COPP is the 14th Holmes story; it first appeared in the June 1892 Strand, with Paget illustrations. It then was the last story collected into the Adventures in October 1892. We are in 1890, or thereabouts, with Holmes and Watson as vigorous men in their mid-thirties. COPP gives us one of the four Violets (can you name the other three and their stories?) and one of the most menacing villains of the Canon. Jephro Rucastle rivals Charles Augustus Milverton in false cheer laid on over pure evil. We have strong elements of the Victorian gothic genre in which ACD excelled: a lonely country house with a secret, inexplicable and grotesque behaviors, surly family servants, a damsel walled up to thwart an unsuitable marriage. Granada filmed an excellent adaptation in 1985 with the late, lamented Natasha Richardson as Violet Hunter. Douglas Wilmer starred in a 1965 BBC version for TV. Wilmer responded to criticism of his portrayal by pointing out that he played the character as written. "People complained that I wasn't sympathetic but I didn't set out to be. I don't regard Holmes as a sympathetic character at all. It would have been hell to share rooms with him." The earliest film starred Georges Treville as Holmes. This 24-minute short feature was part of the first officially authorized series of Holmes Films; they were produced in 1912 under the supervision of Conan Doyle himself. The COPP episode is the eighth and final episode, and also the only episode that survives (see it on YouTube).