Tag Archives: Rivals of Sherlock Holmes

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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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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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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