Category Archives: Forgotten Television

EIGIL HOLST: RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1973)

rivals of sherlockFor Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode of this 1971-1973 series about London by Gaslight detectives from both the Victorian and Edwardian Ages you can simply click HERE   

HolstEpisode: THE SENSIBLE ACTION OF LIEUTENANT HOLST (March 4th, 1973)

Detective: Eigil Holst, created by Danish author Palle Rosenkrantz. The first Holst mystery was published in 1903.

Comment: Palle Rosenkrantz is considered the Grandfather of Danish Crime Authors and Denmark’s Palle Rosenkrantz Prize is the equivalent of America’s Poe Award. His 1903 novel The Forest Lake Mystery, which introduced his police detective Eigil Holst, is considered the first Danish crime novel.

Synopsis: In Copenhagen, harried and put-upon Detective Lieutenant Eigil Holst gets two fresh cases added to his pile – a missing persons case involving the wife of a local merchant, and a Russian Countess who claims her brother-in-law has pursued her with the intention of murdering her.

Holst and DimitriJohn Thaw portrays Lieutenant Holst but neither boozes like Inspector Morse nor manhandles suspects like he did in his Sweeney days. Holst displays a casual savviness and a street-smart air, especially when dealing with a slippery hotel front desk employee. “Professional” is the defining adjective for Thaw’s Holst. 

In any event this particular case isn’t a “whodunnit” but a “who’s telling the truth” mystery. Continue reading

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EUGENE VALMONT: RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1973)

rivals of sherlockFor Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode of this 1971-1973 series about London by Gaslight detectives from both the Victorian and Edwardian Ages you can simply click HERE   

ValmontEpisode: THE ABSENT MINDED COTERIE (February 26th, 1973)

Detective: Eugene Valmont, created by Robert Barr. The first Eugene Valmont story was published in 1904.

Synopsis: In this Second Season episode, Inspector Hale (Barry Linehan) of Scotland Yard has reached a dead-end in his current investigation and has sought out the aid of the French-born private investigator Eugene Valmont, who operates out of London. Continue reading

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POLLY BURTON: RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1973)

rivals of sherlockBalladeer’s Blog at last resumes its examination of both seasons of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. For my review of the very first episode of this 1971-1973 series about London by Gaslight detectives from both the Victorian and Edwardian Ages you can simply click HERE   

judy geeson is polly burtonEpisode: THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH ON THE UNDERGROUND RAILWAY (January 29th, 1973)

Detective: Polly Burton, reporter, created by Baroness Orczy (The Scarlet Pimpernel). The first Polly Burton mystery was published in 1909.

Synopsis: This 2nd Season episode features another female detective created by the inimitable Baroness Orczy. Personally, I would rather the producers had done another mystery featuring Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, Orczy’s other – in my view better – female detective.

Judy geeson as polly burtonLady Molly was the actual detective in her stories. Polly Burton (Judy Geeson), while a spunky reporter who never lets people belittle her over her gender, was really just the Archie Goodwin/ Dr Watson for the Teahouse Detective aka the Old Man in the Corner.

The series of mysteries featured Polly doing all the legwork for the mysterious older man who sat in the corner at the teahouse, and he was the one who really solved the cases, like Nero Wolfe. Even worse, sometimes Polly was little more than an awed listener to the Teahouse Detective’s tales of how he solved other mysteries. Continue reading

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SUICIDE THEATRE (1950): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

“I wish I was dead, Jim!”

SUICIDE THEATRE, aka THE LITTLE THEATRE – When you spend your life happily wallowing in oddities like I do, you often get the mistaken impression that everybody must be as aware of the out of the way nuggets of joyous weirdness as you are. I was assuming that the presence of future Star Trek star Deforest Kelley in the surviving footage of this incredible television rarity made Suicide Theatre as well-known as Mr Spock’s ears. Today I had a conversation with two very special ladies (and you know who you are – I’m kidding) who are usually pretty deeply immersed in the weirdass wonders of life but they had never heard of this show.

In a way it’s serendipity that a recognizable face like Kelley portrays the unfortunate man contemplating suicide in this playlet followed by psychological commentary on depression and suicide PLUS critical evaluation of the performers in the playlet. If it was an unknown figure starring as the down-on-his- luck character in this one and only example of Suicide Theatre plenty of people (myself included) would probably be convinced the surviving footage must be a hoax with modern-day people dressed up in 1950’s clothing and surrounded by 1950’s-era furniture.  Continue reading

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DARK INTRUDER (1965) – LESLIE NIELSEN IN A HORROR STORY

dark-intruder-2DARK INTRUDER (1965) – This thoroughly enjoyable piece of Forgotten Television was a failed pilot for a series. Supposedly the network passed on it because they thought it was too scary and gruesome for tv viewers of the time. Instead they released this 59-minute black & white gem to theaters as the second title for double features.

The story is set in 1891 San Francisco with Leslie Nielsen himself starring as Brett Kingsford, an occult expert and investigator. If this had been picked up as a series the title was going to be The Black Cloak and apparently would have been a forerunner of The Norliss Tapes, Kolchak and Spectre. In my opinion the period setting would have given The Black Cloak the edge, though.

dark-intruder-4Brett Kingsford maintains a quasi-secret identity. On the surface he’s known in San Francisco as a bon vivant and ladies’ man and when the police want to consult him over something supernatural he dons various disguises to rendezvous with them. That way nobody in his usual social circles is made aware of his connections with the cops.  Continue reading

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INSPECTOR LIPINZKI (1973): RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

Rivals of Sherlock Holmes otherFor Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode of this 1971-1973 series about London by Gaslight detectives from both the Victorian and Edwardian Ages you can simply click HERE   

Five Hundred CaratsEpisode: FIVE HUNDRED CARATS (February 5th, 1973)

Detective: Inspector Leo Lipinzki of Kimberley, South Africa, a figure created by George Griffith. The first Inspector Lipinzki story was published in 1893.

Synopsis: We are now in the second and final season of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. In addition to his many “ancient” science fiction stories – reviewed previously here at Balladeer’s Blog – George Griffith also wrote the eight Inspector Lipinzki stories, which were later collected in the book Knaves of Diamonds in 1899.

Inspector Lipinzki leftFor the first time in this series we have a story set outside Great Britain, which I found to be a welcome change of pace. Leo Lipinzki (Barry Keegan) works as a Detective Inspector for the Cape Police, but technically the already wealthy and powerful De Beers Diamond Corporation is who he really answers to.

Virtually all the murders, thefts and other crimes that Lipinzki investigates stem from IDB – Illicit Diamond Buying – amid the busy diamond mines and other establishments of South Africa. (And if you read the Inspector Lipinzki stories you’ll see that the acronym “IDB” is used ad nauseum.)

The episode Five Hundred Carats opens up with a murder that we eventually learn ties into the brilliant, seemingly impossible theft of the Great De Beers Diamond. Though in the original story George Griffith presented it as if the Inspector himself was relating the case to him, The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes substitutes the fictional “Mr Cornelius” (Alan Tilvern), an American diamond buyer, for Griffith. Continue reading

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THE HYPNOTIC EYE (1960) ON THE TEXAS TWENTY-SEVEN FILM VAULT

Hypnotic EyeIn the middle 1980s/ Way down on Level 31 …

Before MST3K there was The Texas 27 Film Vault! Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at another film shown and mocked by Film Vault Technicians First Class Randy Clower and Richard Malmos.

ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE: Saturday April 12th, 1986 from 10:30pm to 1:00am. 

Radar Men from the MoonSERIAL: Radar Men from the Moon was the current serial being shown. This episode of The Texas 27 Film Vault featured Chapter Nine titled Battle in the Stratosphere. During the 12 week run of this serial one of the behind the scenes crew (no one remembers who at this point) would dress as Commando Cody, the hero of the serial, and occassionally interact with Randy and Richard during the comedy sketches. 

FILM VAULT LORE: This was supposedly the favorite episode of the Film Vault Corp’s effects man Joe Riley, which is why he used the title The Hypnotic Eye for his post-T27FV television show, episodes of which are on Youtube.

Texas 27 Film Vault posterCOMEDY SKETCHES : This episode aired when Randy still “outranked” Richard in the Film Vault Corps and so their relationship often had the “Main Character and Abused Second Banana” vibe like with Zacherle and My Dear, or Dr Morgus and Chopsley or Dr Forester and TV’s Frank. (F-Troop fans might describe it as a “Sgt O’Rourke and Cpl Agarn vibe.”)

The Host Segments therefore featured Richard supposedly being subjected to the type of mutilation the hypnotized female victims in The Hypnotic Eye were inflicting on themselves. Joe Riley’s special effect of Richard’s hair being set on fire was as intentionally laughable as the effect in the movie itself.  

THE MOVIE:   Continue reading

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CASE OF THE MIRROR OF PORTUGAL (1971) – RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

Rivals of Sherlock Holmes bestFor Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode of this 1971-1973 series about London by Gaslight detectives from both the Victorian and Edwardian Ages you can simply click HERE   

mirror of portugalEpisode: THE CASE OF THE MIRROR OF PORTUGAL (October 25th, 1971)

Detective: Horace Dorrington, created by Arthur Morrison. The first Dorrington story was published in 1897.

Review: This is the second of two Dorrington episodes from Season One of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. Peter Vaughan reprises his role as the unscrupulous yet charming private investigator. Kenneth Colley and Petronella Barker are also back as Farrish and Miss Parrot, Dorrington’s lovebird aides who often do the legwork for their demanding boss.

DorringtonThe story begins with Horace in the middle of one of his typical scams. He’s been hired by an insurance company to recover a stolen painting after his Scotland Yard rival Inspector Brent (Lloyd Lamble) failed to do so.

Dorrington tracked down the art thief and recovered the painting but is now auctioning it off on the underground market to the highest bidder since they’ll pay more than the insurance company. Meanwhile he keeps the painting concealed under a mundane drawing of a dog. 

While pursuing that shady undertaking the ruthless detective gets hired by restaurateur Leon Bouvier (Oscar Quitak) to recover a precious item that was just taken from him in an alleyway during an armed robbery. Continue reading

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RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1971): DEFECTIVE DETECTIVES

Rivals of Sherlock Holmes otherFor Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode of this 1971-1973 series about non-Holmes detectives of the Victorian and Edwardian Ages click HERE   

*** This review will cover the three 1st Season episodes featuring Max Carrados, Simon Carne and Romney Pringle, each with their own defect. I’m borrowing the term “Defective Detectives” from a subgenre of Pulp stories starring detectives who had some form of defect (even pin-headedness) as their gimmick. 

Max CarradosEpisode: THE MISSING WITNESS SENSATION (September 27th, 1971)

Detective: Max Carrados, created by Ernest Bramah. The first Max Carrados story was published in 1914.

Review: Private Detective Max Carrados (Robert Stephens) was blind, but brilliant. His gimmick was the ingenious way he alertly used other sensory clues and his computer-like mind to compensate for his blindness.

Amazingly enough, during the six years (1914-1920) that Ernest Bramah’s Max Carrados tales went head-to-head with Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Bramah’s detective often outsold Doyle’s. It reached the point where Bramah’s name would appear above Doyle’s on magazine covers. 

Max Carrados 2The Missing Witness Sensation was an ideal choice to dramatize out of the more than two dozen Carrados stories. We viewers are treated to an excellent display of how every activity which sighted people take for granted is in itself a piece of detective work for blind Max.

Naturally, the fictional Carrados takes those masterpieces of observation and attention to detail to nearly superhuman levels when doing detective work. His younger, sighted sidekick Greatorex (Michael Elwyn) handles the fisticuffs and all business elements that require the gift of vision. Continue reading

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MARTIN HEWITT (1971) RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

Rivals of Sherlock Holmes bestFor Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode of this 1971-1973 series about non-Holmes detectives of the Victorian and Edwardian Ages click HERE   

*** This review will cover the three Martin Hewitt mysteries that were dramatized in the first season of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes.

Martin HewittEpisode: THE AFFAIR OF THE TORTOISE (November 22nd, 1971)

Detective: Martin Hewitt, created by Arthur Morrison. The first Martin Hewitt story was published in 1894.

Review: Martin Hewitt was created by the same author who created Horace Dorrington, covered in a previous review of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. Unlike Dorrington, Hewitt is honest and looks out for his clients’ interests more than his own. Unfortunately, as portrayed by Peter Barkworth, he’s also more than a little bland.

Well, “bland” might be uncharitable. “Professional” may be more fitting. Barkworth’s Hewitt is serene and reassuring, putting his clients at ease no matter what crisis they’re going through. 

Martin Hewitt with InspectorIn The Affair of the Tortoise Martin Hewitt is hired by Miss Chapman (Cyd Hayman), a former governess that he has just located so she could receive an inheritance from a distant relative. Miss Chapman wants Hewitt to clear one of her neighbors, Goujon (Timothy Bateson), of murder charges. 

Goujon is suspected of killing Rameau (Stefan Kalifa), a rowdy, hard-partying Haitian official residing in London. The drunken Rameau often played practical jokes on Goujon and recently went too far, causing the death of the Frenchman’s pet tortoise. Continue reading

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