"Yep, this has always bugged me. The other thing is that the Nigel Bruce Watson was way too plump and old to be the ladies man that we know Watson to be. I can't imagine any young woman being interested in this old bumbler. They would have been…"
Tarzan Alive by Philip Jose Farmer, The various collected Kull/Conan/Cormac Mac Art and Solomon Kane tales of Robert E. Howard, Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar by Philip Jose Farmer, Allan and The Ice Gods by H Rider Haggard, Slaine: The Horned God by Pat Mills and Simon Bisley, Silmarillion/Hobbit/Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Kane books by Karl Edward Wagner, Tarzan tales by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Russell Holmes books by Laurie R. King, the works of HP Lovecraft, "Eternal Champion" series by Michael Moorcock, "The Arthurian Saga" by Mary Stewart, Watership Down by Richard Adams, Gotham by Gaslight by Brian Augustyn and Michael Mignola, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, Watchmen by Alan Moore, Supreme: The Story of the Year and Supreme: The Return by Alan Moore, Marshal Law: Fear and Loathing by Pat Mills, James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007 by John Pearson, MYTHS FOR THE MODERN AGE: PHILIP JOSE FARMER’S WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE edited by Win Scott Eckert, Time's Last Gift by Philip Jose Farmer, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Volumes 1 and 2 by Alan Moore, anything by Viktor Rydberg, Rhinegold by Stephan Grundy, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Quest for Merlin by Nikolai Tolstoy, Tom Strong stories by Alan Moore, Honour Among Punks: The Complete Baker Street Graphic Novel (HAP was not actually one of my favorite books, but I include it here because it had handled Sherlockian themes in a very inventive way.)
Jeremy Brett is my absolute favorite Holmes! I have so much admiration for Brett as well as the two excellent Watsons- David Burke and Edward Hardwicke.
My second favorite would have to be the Soviet Holmes- Vasily Borisovich Livanov. I recently spent a small fortune ordering the rare Russian series on Amazon and it was well worth it! Not only is Vasily Livanov superb in the part, but the series also has an incredible Watson played by Vitaly Solomin. (Additionally, 'The Sign of Four' episode features what is quite possibly the cutest Toby that I've ever seen. That dog's nose is dynamite!)
In addition to Brett and Livanov, I've also (to varying degrees) enjoyed John Neville, Nicol Williamson, Peter Cushing, Sir Robert Stephens, Ian Richardson, Ronald Howard, Christopher Lee, Charlton Heston, Rupert Everett, Nicholas Rowe, Edward Woodward, Arthur Wontner, John Stanley, Anthony D.P. Mann, Clive Brook, Reginald Owen, Raymond Massey, Eille Norwood, John Longden, Michael Evans, Tom Baker, Roger Moore, James D'Arcy, Jonathan Pryce, John Barrymore and Christopher Plummer.
I already have the four films with Matt Frewer on dvd but I have yet to watch them out of abject fear. I'll get around to it, but I've read some pretty bad reviews and it has made me wary. I'm going to try to keep an open mind. (Update: I ended up viewing these films last week and while my suspicions were mostly confirmed, these were not quite as bad as I expected.)
Not big on Basil Rathbone. He looked great in the part but I absolutely can't stand what they did to Watson in his films. No offense meant to Nigel Bruce but that character was definitely NOT Doctor John H. Watson! For me the whole point of a 'Sherlock Holmes' story is the friendship between Holmes and Watson. If Watson is portrayed as a complete bumbling idiot, then it becomes incredibly unrealistic for Holmes to have any kind of meaningful friendship with him. He simply wouldn't tolerate his company. I'm certainly not the first person to make this observation. Needless to say this unfortunate portrayal of Watson makes it very difficult for me to watch the Rathbone films. Now having said all that, it has been a while since I've seen these old films and I seem to recall enjoying them as a child. I intend to give them another chance in the near future. Also, I'm well aware that Nigel Bruce was not the first or last actor to play a stupid version of Watson, he is just the most well known.
Lastly, the strangest Holmes that I could add to the list would be, oddly enough, me. Yes, back in high-school I played the part of Holmes in an amateur audio drama of 'The Speckled Band'. I still remember bending back that steel poker like it was yesterday. Mercifully, this embarrassing effort was lost soon after it was recorded. Still, it was one of the most exciting class projects that I ever had the pleasure of working on.