Picks and Pans Review: Murder Rooms: the Dark Origins of Sherlock Holmes

updated 05/22/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/22/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (Thurs., May 18 and 25, 9 p.m. ET)

To avoid frustration at the end, bear in mind that this intriguing two-part Mystery! is less a conventional whodunit than a piece of literary detective work. The mix of fact and fiction teams young Arthur Conan Doyle (Robin Laing)—the future creator of Sherlock Holmes—and his medical-school mentor Dr. Joseph Bell (Ian Richardson) in an investigation involving gore, mutilation, religious zealotry and an immoral philanthropist (Charles Dance). Though the murder plot has more than its share of complications, concentrate on Doyle's love for a fellow student (Dolly Wells) and his deepening relationship with the masterful Bell, an apparent Holmes prototype who believes in a rigorously rational approach to crime-solving.

Bottom Line: Not elementary, dear viewer, but stay with it

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