Category Archives: Forgotten Television

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 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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CARNACKI (1971) RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

For 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   

Horse of the InvisibleEpisode: THE HORSE OF THE INVISIBLE (October 18th, 1971)

Detective: Thomas Carnacki, created by William Hope Hodgson. The first Carnacki story was published in 1910.

Review: Thomas Carnacki was an Edwardian detective who investigated the paranormal in 9 stories written by William Hope Hodgson, famous for the horror tale The House on the Borderlands. The fun of the Carnacki mysteries came from the way that sometimes the supernatural elements were being faked by human malefactors. The hero would solve the case either way.

In a fortuitous bit of casting which helps make this episode timeless, Donald Pleasence starred as Thomas Carnacki. Pleasence’s role of Doctor Loomis in the Halloween series of slasher films makes him a familiar face even to viewers unfamiliar with his loooong body of work.

CarnackiGiven that this program is titled The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes the best way to describe The Ghost of the Invisible would be as a hybrid of The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Speckled Band crossed with the John Silence series of occult mysteries.

Renowned “Ghost Detective” Thomas Carnacki is hired by the patriarch of the Hisgins family to safeguard his soon-to-be-wed daughter Mary from a spectre which has haunted the family for centuries. That spectre is the titular horse, a ghostly mare which has murdered the first-born child of each successive lord of Hisgins Hall … when that first-born child has been female. Continue reading

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MADAME SARA (1971) RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

Rivals of Sherlock Holmes bestFrom 1971 to 1973 The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes was a British television series which dramatized non-Holmes mystery stories by Victorian and Edwardian authors. For Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode click HERE   

Madame SaraEpisode: MADAME SARA (November 1st, 1971)

Detective: Dixon Druce, created by L.T. Meade (Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Smith) and Robert Eustace.

Villainess: Madame Sara, by the same creators. The first story featuring Dixon Druce and Madame Sara was published in 1902.

Madame Sara picReview: Years before the insidious Doctor Fu Manchu and his dogged adversary Sir Denis Nayland-Smith came this detective and the female criminal genius he clashed with. In the case of Dixon Druce and Madame Sara, there was always an air of attraction and sexual tension between them.

The pair’s duels of wits sprinkled with flirtation are enjoyable and, combined with the fact that a woman co-created the characters and co-wrote their six mysteries, I’m genuinely puzzled why they aren’t more well known and more widely dramatized.

Madame Sara was the story which introduced Dixon Druce (John Fraser), investigative manager for the Werner’s Solvency Inquiry Agency. That firm can be hired by potential investors to probe the financial and legal bona fides of domestic or international businesses.  

Dixon DruceAs the episode opens, Druce is in his laboratory engaging in a game of forensic one-upmanship with his Scotland Yard friend Inspector Vandeleur (George Murcell). Their verbal fencing over poisons is interrupted by Dixon’s old school friend Jack Selby (William Corderoy).

Selby has recently married the well-to-do and beautiful Beatrice Dallas (Jasmina Hilton), whom he met while at a government post in Brazil. Jack is seeking Druce’s help in unravelling certain complications left over from the will of his wife’s late parents.

Delgado as SilvaTheir fortune of 2 million Pounds will be left to whichever of their children is ultimately left alive among Beatrice, her unmarried sister Edith (Caroline John of Doctor Who fame) and their elusive, enigmatic half-brother Henry Joachim Silva (THE Roger Delgado for another Doctor Who connection).    Continue reading

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BERNARD SUTTON (1971): RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES – FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Rivals of Sherlock Holmes otherThe Rivals of Sherlock Holmes was a 1971-1973 television series which dramatized contemporary non-Holmes detective stories from the Victorian and Edwardian Eras in England. For Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode click HERE 

Bernard SuttonEpisode: THE RIPENING RUBIES (December 2nd, 1971)

Detective: Bernard Sutton, Jeweler to the Royal Court, created by Max Pemberton. The first Bernard Sutton story was published in 1894.

Review: Max Pemberton’s series of 10 Bernard Sutton mysteries make for a nice break from non-stop murder investigations. This dapper, distinguished “Court Jeweler who solves mysteries” always finds himself getting to the bottom of spectacular jewel heists. People are sometimes killed off during his investigation, but those killings are always incidental to Sutton’s solving of seemingly impossible robberies.

Sutton 2Bernard (Robert Lang) is capably assisted by Abel, the young clerk at his high-end jewelry shoppe. Abel is a reformed criminal whose old underworld contacts prove valuable in Sutton’s investigations.

In The Ripening Rubies the sleuthing jeweler easily nails a crook trying to sell a ruby necklace stolen from Lady Faber (Lally Bowers). After restoring the priceless item to the good Lady, Bernard winds up recruited by her to be her “watchdog” at a party she’s throwing that evening. Continue reading

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DORRINGTON (1971): RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES – FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Rivals of Sherlock Holmes bestThe 1971-1973 British series The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes dramatized non-Holmes stories of detectives solving mysteries in Victorian and Edwardian England written by contemporary authors. For Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode click HERE

Dorrington seatedEpisode: THE AFFAIR OF THE AVALANCHE BICYCLE & TYRE CO. LTD (October 4th, 1971)

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

Review: Horace Dorrington was a refreshing change among the London by Gaslight detectives. The wily, double-dealing scoundrel represented every reason that hoity-toity Britishers of the day looked down on the character of private detectives. Writer Arthur Morrison’s Dorrington was in the grand literary tradition of despicable yet charming rogues.   

DorringtonPeter Vaughan is nearly flawless in his portrayal of the suave yet black-hearted detective. In the opening scene – a teaser before the main mystery – we viewers get to see Horace Dorrington’s true nature.

He charges a cheating wife three hundred British Pounds for supposedly “buying back” her indiscreet letters to a lover who is blackmailing her. He cheats his unseen partner in the detective firm out of his share of the fee by having the wayward wife make the check payable to him (Dorrington) only and after she leaves we learn that Dorrington didn’t “buy back” the letters from her blackmailer – he stole them – so he just pocketed three hundred Pounds in pure profit.    Continue reading

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LADY MOLLY (1971) RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES: FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Rivals of Sherlock Holmes otherThe Rivals of Sherlock Holmes lasted for 2 seasons of 13 episodes each from 1971-1973. The series dramatized non-Holmes stories of detectives solving mysteries in Victorian and Edwardian England written by contemporary authors. For Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode click HERE

Lady Molly 1Episode: THE WOMAN IN THE BIG HAT (November 15th, 1971)

Detective: Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, created by Baroness Orczy (The Scarlet Pimpernel). The first Lady Molly story was published in 1910.

Review: The fictional Lady Molly Robertson-Kirk was depicted working as a detective for Scotland Yard a full decade before women did so in real life. The period details in her series of mysteries often include references to the Women’s Suffrage Movement, but never to the point where it interferes with the storytelling.

The Woman in the Big Hat starts off with Lady Molly, played magnificently by Elvi Hale, shopping for a new hat. Her sharply-honed powers of observation allow her to thwart an attempted robbery by a few larcenous ladies posing as customers at the high-class shop.

Lady Molly and MaryRest assured this will tie back into the main story, but for now it’s back to Scotland Yard for Lady Molly and Mary Granard (Ann Beach, right), her Watson-style sidekick/ biographer. Elsewhere in London, a distinguished gentleman drops dead from poison at a cafe shortly after his female companion leaves the table.

With the only description of the presumed murderess being that she wore “a big hat,” Inspector Saunders (Peter To The Manor Born Bowles) finds that his investigation has hit a dead end. Reluctantly, he enlists the help of our heroine. Continue reading

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