Sherlock Holmes (1954–1955)
Not the greatest Holmes - but definitely enjoyable
1 March 2006
In the face of so much praise for this series, I must deliver a more mixed verdict on Howard's Holmes.

Howard is likable, and not a bad light actor, but I think he isn't quite right for this role. He doesn't really convince as a razor-minded thinker or an obsessive observer. Perhaps the producers wanted a more conventional "Boy's Own" hero, which role Howard fills well - giving a performance of wide-eyed enthusiasm and derring-do. Unfortunately, he also has to perform some rather weak comedy. I was particularly annoyed by "The Split Ticket", in which Holmes embarrasses himself by failing at pickpocketing and at a card trick. Even apart from Holmes's legendary perfectionism, it hardly makes sense for a detective show to suggest that its hero is incompetent.

The other actors in the show are good. The Watson was less stupid but crustier than Nigel Bruce's version. Archie Duncan inhabits the role of LeStrade. But where is Mrs Hudson?

The sets are detailed and well done, and a convincing period atmosphere is established on (what I assume was) a low budget. The show was thankfully shot on film, so it still looks nice, if a bit soft and rather worn.

After saying all the above negative things, I might appear to contradict myself by saying that it's actually a very enjoyable show! I think this has something to do with the short length of the episodes (under 30 minutes), which means that the stories have to very quickly get to the point. In this limited time-frame, nothing actually seems rushed (although obviously there is a lack of detail to the plots), which indicates the presence of some capable script-writing.

Add to this some likable actors and a charming period feel, and you have a genuine "feel good" experience for Sherlockians and mystery lovers.

(I'll just add that I'm lucky enough to have a set of 30 (of 36) episodes on 4 DVDs, released in Australia by www.payless.com.au, if you're interested. I will add the episode titles to this site at a later date.)
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