Tag Archives: forgotten television

OBJECT Z (1965): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Object ZOBJECT Z (1965) – Directed by Daphne Shadwell and written by Christopher McMaster, this was one of the many six-episode science fiction serials from British television of the 1950s and 1960s. The Quatermass serials are among the best remembered of those programs but there were also items like The Trollenberg Terror, a serial later adapted into the B-Movie The Crawling Eye.

If you’ve seen any of the other British programs like this you’ll know what to expect and whether or not you’ll enjoy this one. Personally I find them fun AND fun-bad all at once so to me they’re more than worth watching.

The storyline in Object Z involves the sighting of a distant space object which, as it draws nearer to the Earth, is determined to be at least six miles long and made of either stone or metal. Soon it becomes clear that it is going to collide with the Earth. Continue reading

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DUCKWORTH DREW: RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1973)

rivals of sherlockFor 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

Duckworth DrewEpisode: THE SECRET OF THE FOXHUNTER (February 3rd, 1973)

Detective: Duckworth Drew of the Foreign Office, created by William Le Queux. The first Duckworth Drew story was published in 1903. Apparently the creative team on the television show found “Duckworth” to be too silly sounding so they instead gave the character the first name of his creator, William. 

Comment: In Drew’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. Duckworth, or “Ducky” as he’s called by intimate friends, is the archetypal British spy whose diplomatic titles are just a cover for his espionage antics. Derek Jacobi shines as the intelligence operative.

Drew is often cited as one of the many, many supposed influences on Ian Fleming’s much later character James Bond. He does periodically use Q-style devices (Was Q a subtle nod to Le Queux?) like drugged cigars and drugged pins that can render people unconscious or paralyzed.

Duckworth Drew againSomething I found interesting about the Duckworth Drew spy stories was the way that, despite their national chauvinism in which it is just assumed that Great Britain is “the good guy,” the rival powers of Germany, Russia and France are not depicted as devils incarnate. Certainly they’re never presented in truly sympathetic ways but since these stories were written before the World Wars and the Cold War, they’re comparatively restrained in dealing with Drew’s opposition.     

That restraint is typical of the relative maturity of the stories. England would often adjust its policies to court support from one or two of those powers against the others. Therefore, it wouldn’t do to hysterically demonize those other nations since HMG is sometimes in league with each of them in turn. And – another refreshing element – it is taken in stride by Drew and his superiors that Germany, Russia and France do the same thing. There’s almost an air of the Mario Puzo attitude “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” Continue reading

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CHARLES DALLAS: RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1973)

rivals of sherlockFor 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

Charles DallasEpisode: THE MISSING Q.Cs. (April 9th, 1973)

Detective: Charles Dallas, created by John Oxenham (pen name of William Arthur Dunkerley). The first Charles Dallas story was published in 1898 in Harmsworth London Magazine.

Comment: John Oxenham’s crime novels and short stories deserve to be rediscovered and made available to a much wider audience. A Mystery of the Underground, his 1897 detective story about a serial killer committing seemingly impossible Phantom of the Opera-style murders on the London Underground was his best-known crime thriller. However, his mystery-solving lawyer Charles Dallas should also be remembered since he was basically a Victorian Age forerunner of Rumpole of the Bailey.

As an example of the impact of Oxenham’s writing consider this – it’s a historical footnote that while his subway killer tale was being serialized, Tuesday night use of the London Underground plummeted to record lows because the fictional murderer only struck on Tuesday evenings. You can look it up for yourself.

Synopsis: Handsome young lawyer Charles Dallas (Robin Ellis) is a Junior Defense Barrister for Queen’s Counsel (Q.C.) defense attorney Sir Revel Revell (seriously), played by John Barron. Like the Victorian Age’s fictional master thief A.J. Raffles, he’s also a top-notch Cricket player whose athletic accomplishments are often in the newspapers.

Milly Revell and Charles DallasCharles has been dating Sir Revel’s daughter Milly (Celia Bannerman), a practicing nurse who keeps pressuring her beau to ask her father for her hand in marriage. Between his law career, his Cricket games and his sleuthing he just can’t seem to find the right moment for it, which causes periodic tensions between the two lovebirds. Continue reading

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J.T. LAXWORTHY: RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1973)

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 

rivals of sherlock holmesEpisode: 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.

Bernard HeptonSynopsis: 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

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RICH LITTLE’S CHRISTMAS CAROL (1979)

Rich Little's Christmas CarolRICH LITTLE’S CHRISTMAS CAROL (1979) – Balladeer’s Blog’s ELEVENTH annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues! If you’re into celebrity trivia from the 1970’s and earlier Rich Little’s Christmas Carol will have you laughing from start to finish over all the sly jokes and riffs that abound in this Canadian- made special. For those unfamiliar with Little he was the Frank Caliendo of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, a first- class celebrity impressionist. The Canadian comic’s first venture into using the voices and personas of iconic celebrities as characters in the Charles Dickens classic began in the 1960’s. Part of Rich’s stand-up act was a several minute sendup of A Christmas Carol with John Wayne, Jack Benny and other figures playing roles in the famous story.

In 1979 Little expanded the story into an hour-long television special in which, through the aid of trick photography, costumes and makeup, he impersonated all of the entertainment legends that he worked into the Yuletide epic. Here is a rundown of the celebrities that Rich Little appeared as in this enjoyable Christmas special:

For the central role of Ebenezer Scrooge Little impersonated W.C. Fields, the whiskey- soaked and curmudgeonly comedian whose misanthropic humor made his persona perfect for the role. Little impersonated Hollywood Squares mainstay Paul “The JM J Bullock of his time” Lynde in the role of Bob Cratchit and long-time Tonight Show host Johnny Carson as the cheerful and charming Nephew Fred. Rich did a turn as Laurel and Hardy as the Charity Solicitors to round out the “cast” for the opening scene at Scrooge and Marley’s. Continue reading

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BEST OF 2020: JUNE

Balladeer’s Blog’s end of year retrospective continues with this look at June’s best:

Five Hundred CaratsINSPECTOR LIPINZKI: RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1973) – The best episode of Season Two involved this detective investigating the spectacular theft of a huge diamond. Click HERE.

DEMOCRATS HAVE A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE … WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT – It often seems like in America you’re only as free as the most intolerant Democrat allows you to be. Click HERE

THE ARTIFICIAL MAN (1884): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION – The tale of an artificially designed human being. Click HERE.

Captain America OneTHE FIRST TWENTY CAPTAIN AMERICA STORIES OF THE 1940s – The Golden Age adventures of the red white and blue superhero. Click HERE.

JOURNALISTS AGREE THAT DEMOCRAT BIAS HAS KILLED THEIR PROFESSION’S CREDIBILITY – The title says it all. Click HERE.

PRIZE COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON – Another 1940s group of superheroes who are all but forgotten. Click HERE.

riots cartoonVICTIMS OF THE DEMOCRAT RIOTERS SPEAK OUT – The victims of color who suffered through the Democrat riots this year were ignored by the Democrats’ media outlets. Click HERE.

FOOL KILLER: MAY 1911 – James Larkin Pearson’s version of the Fool Killer continues his career. Click HERE.

DEMOCRAT VOTE FRAUD SCANDALS IN NEW JERSEY AND WISCONSIN – Yes, even in June more and more Democrat vote fraud scandals were making the news. Click HERE.

DEFECTIVE DETECTIVES (1971) – A BBC show with Max Carrados the blind detective and others. Click HERE. Continue reading

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MISS HAGAR STANLEY: RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1973)

rivals of sherlockFor 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 

Amber BeadsEpisode: THE MYSTERY OF THE AMBER BEADS (April 23rd, 1973)

Detective: Miss Hagar Stanley, created by Fergus Hume. The first Hagar Stanley mystery was published in 1898.

Comment: She’s a Gypsy pawn shop manager who solves mysteries! Yes, despite her unlikely name, Miss Hagar Stanley was a Romany Gypsy. Fleeing a forced marriage to a male Gypsy whom she loathed and feared, Hagar sought shelter with her uncle, Jacob Dix, a shrewd pawn shop owner.

Hagar StanleyThe enterprising young Gypsy woman picked up the pawn business quickly, combining her already wily anti-establishment Romany ways with her uncle’s eye for value and hard-nosed negotiating skills. Naturally, at a pawnshop, Hagar often dealt with criminals, gamblers and wastrels. While managing the shop for her uncle, Miss Stanley also found herself solving assorted murders, thefts and other crimes.

Synopsis: Technically, the title of the short story adapted for this episode was The Second Customer and the Amber Beads. That reflected the titling format of the Hagar Stanley mysteries, with others being The Third Customer and the Jade Idol, The Sixth Customer and the Silver Teapot, and so on for all ten Hagar stories.  Continue reading

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CHIEF PURSER HORROCKS: RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1973)

For 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 

Chief Purser HorrocksEpisode: THE LOOTING OF THE SPECIE ROOM (April 16th, 1973)

Detective: Chief Purser Eli Horrocks, created by C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne. The first Mr Horrocks story was published in the year 1900.

Comment: He’s a Chief Purser who solves mysteries! Instead of doing the thousandth screen adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express or Death on the Nile, how about someone bringing to life Hyne’s seafaring sleuth Mr Horrocks? The Looting of the Specie Room has a lot of the “snooty British upper class prigs caught up in a crime” appeal that Christie’s later mysteries had.

Rounding up an all-star cast and filming this first-rate mystery as it unfolds amid cushy 1900 trans-Atlantic ship travel might make for a surprise hit. Compared to other Chief Purser Horrocks mysteries like The Derelict THIS little honey would probably work best as a movie. The detective work would just be part of the charm, with the period detail providing the rest.  

Horrocks, the Inspector and the CaptainSynopsis: The RMS Oceanic is hoping to pull off a double-coup – hauling a record-setting TWO HUNDRED FIFTY-THOUSAND dollars in gold bullion (in 1900 money) from New York City to Southampton AND setting a new speed record for a trans-Atlantic voyage. Lord Altington, the owner of the shipping line, is aboard to oversee this venture and keep the pressure on the crewmembers.

Also aboard for this bit of hoped-for history are assorted sleazy reporters and a mix of Upper Class Twits whose pomposity and snobbery rival Lord Altington’s. When half the gold disappears on the way to Great Britain, the spectacular theft could mean the end for Chief Purser Horrocks (Ronald Fraser), whose position makes him ultimately responsible for all valuables on board.

With Lord Altington looking for a scapegoat, with the crew pointing fingers at each other, with Inspector Trent bungling the investigation and with an entire shipload of suspects ready to scatter to the winds upon arrival in Southampton, Horrocks takes it upon himself to play detective in order to save his own skin. Continue reading

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DAGOBERT TROSTLER: 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   

Anonymous LettersEpisode: ANONYMOUS LETTERS (March 19th, 1973)

Detective: Dagobert Trostler, created by Austrian writer Balduin Groller (pen name for Adalbert Goldscheider). The first Dagobert Trostler mystery was published in 1895.

Synopsis: Ronald Lewis portrays amateur detective Dagobert Trostler, an Austrian bon vivant and man about town during the twilight time of the Habsburgs. Given the various scandals and potential public humiliations that can befall pretentious aristocrats of any time period, Dagobert offers his detective skills to the well-connected and the wealthy.

Dagobert and NadjaTrostler doesn’t expect any pay and usually goes without any public credit, because if he has resolved the case properly no one will ever know he or his clients played any role in certain events.

Dagobert isn’t above fisticuffs or gunplay or even breaking & entering as he indulges in his favorite sport of solving mysteries. His manservant Berthold (Denis Thorne) is skilled at disguise and at casing a joint for his boss when needed. Continue reading

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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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