The Granada television adaptations of Sherlock Holmes are best known for two things: Jeremy Brett and faithful adaptation. Last night's close look at "Second Stain" with the Sherlock Holmes Story Society, however, brought my attention to something they weren't so faithful at adapting . . . and probably with good reason.
There's a point in "Second Stain" where Lady Hilda Trelawney Hope is describing the murder of the French spy Eduardo Lucas, she relays the following: "There was a savage struggle. I saw him with a chair in his hand, a knife gleamed in hers. I rushed from the horrible scene, ran from the house, and only next morning in the paper did I learn the dreadful result." Even in the first newspaper account of the crime, we read that Lucas died with chair in hand. They literally had to pry the chair from his cold, dead hand.
Now, perhaps I am more sensitive to weaponized chairs than most, having long watched professional wrestling and also been a fan of the movie Holmes and Watson where the good Watson uses a chair to take out the giant Braun Strowman, but chair versus knife and knife wins? I have doubts.
Perhaps it was his wife's complete rage that gave knife the advantage. Perhaps it was close quarters and Lucas couldn't get a full swing with the chair. Perhaps Lucas wasn't as strong as Watson, or picked too heavy a chair like some Serta recliner of the Victorian era. But I'd think a good chair smash would slow down knife lady enough to disarm her.
I would suspect myself of wrestling fantasy, much like many a gun enthusiast has wild west quick-draw fantasies of dealing with mass shooters, but we actually had a local case of an ex-soldier stopping a knife-wielding attack at a library with a chair in one of the Peoria suburbs in the last couple of years. Eduardo Lucas was no soldier, but still, the chair seemed to have done the trick.
Granada television plainly saw the problem with Lucas and the chair, as they disarmed him for their adaptation of the scene, letting him take on knife-lady with his bare hands. (Thanks to Mary Reilly for digging up that scene for me.) And I think it was a good choice.
Chairs have reach. Chairs have force. Saying "Don't bring a chair to a knife fight!" isn't nearly as effective as the old trope "Don't bring a knife to a gun fight!" But in Eduardo Lucas's case, that chair doesn't seem to have worked out at all. Still, old wrestling fan that I am, I'd like to have seen him get a couple of chair shots in before taking that knife to the chest.
Maybe next adaptation?