Tag Archives: London by Gaslight

RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES: LINKS

rivals of sherlockThank you to those Balladeer’s Blog readers who reminded me that I hadn’t provided a post with the links to ALL my reviews of the episodes of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. That was a 1971-1973 British television series which adapted Victorian Age and Edwardian Age stories about detectives other than Sherlock Holmes.

1971 SEASON

masc graveyard smallerA MESSAGE FROM THE DEEP SEA – R Austin Freeman’s police surgeon detective Doctor John Evelyn Thorndyke (created in 1907) uses his unique talents to investigate the murder of a London prostitute. Click HERE.

THE WOMAN IN THE BIG HAT – Molly Robertson-Kirk aka Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, was created by THE Baroness Orczy in 1910. In this mystery she solves the murder of a man left poisoned in a public eatery by the title suspect. Click HERE

THE AFFAIR OF THE AVALANCHE BICYCLE & TYRE CO. LTD – Arthur Morrison’s 1897 creation Horace Dorrington, a roguish and frequently dishonest private investigator, gets to the bottom of the public stock offering from a mysterious new corporation which may be running a scam. Click HERE.

THE RIPENING RUBIES – Bernard Sutton, a jeweler who solves mysteries, was created by Max Pemberton in 1894. In this case he solves a series of spectacular jewel thefts in London high society. Click HERE.

MADAME SARA – In 1902 L.T. Meade (Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Smith) and Robert Eustace published this first of six mysteries pitting their detective Dixon Druce against Madame Sara, a female combination of Professor Moriarty and Dr Fu Manchu. Click HERE. Continue reading

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THE MOABITE CIPHER: 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

Jervis and ThorndykeEpisode: THE MOABITE CIPHER (March 26th 1973)

Detective: Doctor John Evelyn Thorndyke, created by R. Austin Freeman. The first Doctor Thorndyke story was published in 1907.

Comment: This will complete my look at this neglected television series. My reviews of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes began with the Season One episode featuring Doctor Thorndyke played by John Neville, so it’s kind of appropriate to end with a review of this Season Two episode starring Barrie Ingham as Thorndyke.

Review: At a public London procession in honor of a Russian Grand Duke a man suspected of being an anarchist is accidentally killed while running from police. Our medical man Doctor Thorndyke arrives on the scene with his sidekick Doctor Jervis (Peter Sallis) just as the authorities are cordoning off the area over fears of an anarchist bombing.

The dead man is found to have no bomb or other weapons, just a mysterious note in an ancient language which Thorndyke recognizes as Moabite. This raises the possibility that a larger anarchist plot is in the works, possibly even the assassination of the visiting Russian.

With press vultures sensationalizing the incident and with fears for the safety of the Grand Duke overwhelming Scotland Yard, our hero’s old friend Inspector Miller shows up to bring the good doctor deeper into the investigation.

A further demand is made upon Thorndyke’s time by Alfred Barton (Julian Glover), who is convinced his brother’s young bride is poisoning her husband’s meals with arsenic. Continue reading

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PROFESSOR VAN DUSEN: 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

*** This review will cover the two Professor Van Dusen stories that were dramatized in Season Two of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes

Superfluous fingerEpisode: THE SUPERFLUOUS FINGER (March 11th, 1973) 

Detective: Professor Augustus S.F.X. Van Dusen, created by Jacques Futrelle. The very first Professor Van Dusen story was published in 1905.

Comment: Though the professor, also called “The Thinking Machine,” was an American character created by an American author, this British series saved money by depicting him as a British detective solving crimes in England.

Professor Van DusenReview: Professor Van Dusen (Douglas Wilmer) is engaged by his acquaintance, Doctor Prescott (Laurence Payne), to solve a mystery. A perfectly healthy woman (Veronica Strong) wanted the physician to amputate one of her fingers but refused to say why.

When the doctor refused, she immediately inflicted an injury on herself forcing the amputation of that finger by the MD. Prescott wants the professor to find out what was behind this strange incident.

The woman refuses to offer any explanation or to give her real name, so Van Dusen has her followed by his reporter friend, Roderick Varley (Mark Eden), a replacement for the original story’s Hutchinson Hatch. (In those original Van Dusen stories Hatch worked for the fictional newspaper called the Daily New Yorker. In this series the reporter character is employed by a London newspaper.) 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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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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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.

Polly againLady 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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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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