For Balladeer’s Blog’s 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
Episode: THE SECRET OF THE MAGNIFIQUE (February 19th, 1973)
Detective: Mr J.T. Laxworthy, created by the incredibly prolific Edward Phillips Oppenheim. The first Mr Laxworthy story was published in 1912.
Comment: In J.T. Laxworthy’s adventures he wasn’t so much a rival of Sherlock Holmes as a detective, but more in terms of the handful of Holmes stories in which he served as a spy. However, while Holmes was motivated by patriotism, Laxworthy was largely interested in the money he could make from his espionage activities.
Synopsis: The enigmatic but well to do Mr J.T. Laxworthy (Bernard Hepton) recruits two men fresh out of prison – the handsome and smooth conman Sydney Wing (Christopher Neame) and the brawny safe-cracker & thief called Anderson (Neil McCarthy).
After a six-month period in which the two ex-cons acclimate themselves to their restored freedom AND refine themselves into useful agents for Laxworthy, the trio kick off an illicit operation on the Cote d’Azur. Continue reading
THE RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1971-1973) – The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes was not just a collection of stories by mystery writers who were contemporaries of Arthur Conan Doyle but also a television series which adapted such mysteries. Just as Holmes’ tales were set during the Victorian and Edwardian Eras so, too, were the stories of these detectives. The series lasted two seasons of 13 episodes each and presented the best non-Holmes London-by-Gaslight Detectives.
Episode One: A MESSAGE FROM THE DEEP SEA
Detective: Doctor John Evelyn Thorndyke, created by R Austin Freeman. The first Thorndyke story was published in 1907.
Review: In my opinion this is the best episode of Season One. Thorndyke, like Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, was miles ahead of the contemporary police in terms of Crime Scene Investigation. In both the Holmes AND Thorndyke mysteries there is a quasi-science fiction feel as those great fictional detectives use scientific methods disdained at the time but which are now commonplace in the solving of crimes.
The episode introduces us to Dr John Evelyn Thorndyke (John Neville), a forensic physician/ Police Surgeon of the era, as he is teaching a classroom of students. (Kind of a Quincy opening feel.) He is assisted by Dr Jervis (James Cossins), Thorndyke’s version of Dr Watson.
A former student of Thorndyke’s shows up requesting his former teacher’s help in his first big murder case as an Assistant Police Surgeon. Our star and his man Jervis accompany their former student to a brothel on Harrow Street, where a prostitute has been murdered in her bed by having her throat slashed. Continue reading