‘Arthur & George’ Makes Sherlock Holmes’s Creator the Detective
In the time it took to puff on his pipe, Sherlock Holmes would have discerned everything: the eavesdropper at the private club as well as his name, political persuasion and place of birth — all from the dust on his shoes. But Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Shockingly oblivious, a detractor declares in “Arthur & George” (Sundays on PBS). “If you pursue your interest in the Edalji case, you’ll be judged by his high standards, and judged harshly,” the man chides Holmes’s creator. “But if you fall short, as you are bound to do, you’ll taint not only yourself but the world’s favorite consulting detective.”
Edalji is the titular George, an Anglo-Indian solicitor imprisoned for mutilating livestock — and threatening schoolgirls with worse — in 1903 Staffordshire. He longs to be exonerated for crimes he maintains he did not commit, and Arthur wagers his reputation that George’s conviction was racially motivated. Martin Clunes and Arsher Ali star in this mist-shrouded adaptation of Julian Barnes’s factual novel, which unveils Arthur’s personal life as he contemplates a future with his true love following his wife’s death. Charles Edwards plays Arthur’s secretary, Alfred Wood — in other words, his Dr. Watson.