Tag Archives: forgotten television

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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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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RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1971-1973) FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Rivals of Sherlock Holmes bestTHE 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. 

Doctor ThorndykeEpisode 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.     

Thorndyke and JervisThe 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

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THE INVISIBLE MAN (1984): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Invisible ManTHE INVISIBLE MAN (1984) – This was a British television miniseries version of the H.G. Wells science fiction story and was originally aired in 6 episodes of 27 minutes each. It was later edited and repackaged as 3 episodes running 50 minutes each.

Brian Lighthill directed this excellent series which emphasized period detail – well, except for the studio lighting, of course. That aside, if, like me, you’ve always wanted to see faithful adaptations of all Wells’ works set in their original era, you will especially love this production.

Invisible Man 2Pip Donaghy shines as the madman Griffin and conveys a true sense of danger behind his envelope-pushing scientific brilliance. Much of his performance rests on his terrific voice-acting, naturally, but he is always convincing. Continue reading

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THE AMERICAN GIRLS (1978): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

American GirlsTHE AMERICAN GIRLS – If you’ve ever wondered what Charlie’s Angels might have been like if it had tried doing slightly (very slightly) more serious stories, The American Girls is your answer. Priscilla Barnes in her pre-Three’s Company days co-starred with Debra Clinger in her post-Clinger Sisters days in this series about two sexy female reporters for a television news program.

The American Girls lasted just 6 episodes, from September 23rd, 1978 to November 11th of that year, with 5 remaining episodes going unaired. The actual idea for the series wasn’t bad and I’m surprised the premise wasn’t recycled at some point in the 80s or 90s.

American Girls 2Barnes played Rebecca Tomkins and Clinger portrayed Amy Waddell, two field journalists for The American Report, a fictional 60 Minutes or 20/20 style television news magazine. They traveled the country in a van which served as a mobile studio with plenty of up to date equipment. David Spielberg played their producer Francis X Casey, making him a combination Charlie AND Bosley for the show.  Continue reading

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ALL THAT GLITTERS (1977): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

All that glittersALL THAT GLITTERS (1977) – With the syndicated late-night soap opera satire Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman becoming a cultural phenomenon in the 1970s, Norman Lear launched this oddball, self-consciously “adult” program which added a touch of parallel world sci-fi stories to the soapiness.

All That Glitters was a comedy set in a world where women were in charge and men filled workplace and societal roles filled by women in our world at the time. The humor in this show is painfully dated but the inversion of roles still gives it a certain strange watchability.

All That glitters 2Want to see women running the business world and men serving as secretaries while getting ogled and sexually harassed? This show’s got it! Want to see a tuxedo-clad groom carrying flowers and walking down the aisle toward his intended bride? This show’s got it! Want to see some fairly kinky quasi-FemDom scenarios as the premise is taken to its logical conclusions? This show’s got it! Continue reading

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SUPER PRESIDENT (1967): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

superpresident

Super President

SUPER PRESIDENT was an actual cartoon series from the 1960s that has virtually disappeared. It’s rare to catch a glimpse of this DePatie- Freleng show anywhere or even to find people who have heard of it outside of oddballs like me.

This cartoon was not intended for laughs, like it would be today. It honestly featured a superhero whose “secret identity” was being President of the United States. First off, there’s the absurd fun of the name AND the fact that calling yourself Super President  instantly blows your cover anyway, unless you think people are dumb enough to not figure out what you’re the president OF. (The Teamsters Union? The National Egg Council?)  

President James Norcross was our title superhero and like the Fantastic Four a half-dozen years earlier got his powers from a cosmic ray storm. He had super-strength, could fly via small rockets on his belt and as the topper could transform himself into any substance – steel, granite, water, electricity and on more than one occassion – “ozone”. (Ozone?)

Super President also had a nifty Omnicar that could drive, fly and serve as a submarine. The Omnicar was stashed in a secret room in the White House that served as SP’s version of the Batcave (How was this addition to the White House added without attracting attention and how much did it cost?). Continue reading

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KID GLOVES (1951): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Kid GlovesKID GLOVES (1951) – This joyously tasteless program from the early years of television featured children AGE THREE TO TWELVE beating each other’s brains out in boxing matches. No, I’m not joking.

In a slight concession (NOT “concussion”) to the tender ages of the combatants the matches were limited to just three rounds of 30 seconds each. Still plenty of time for head and facial injuries plus the loss of teeth. Continue reading

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