Great example of an old-fashioned, pure-at-heart escapist event movie that doesn't pretend to be anything that it's not and has boat loads of fun being its own ludicrous self.
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This short-lived TV series is a fairly lightweight interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, but is well worth a view. I am glad it has been rescued from oblivion and made available on DVD for a new generation of viewers to enjoy.Ronald Howard, H Marion Crawford and Archie Duncan are by no means the definitive Holmes, Watson and Lestrade but they make a good team in their own right. Watching them go through their paces, I found it was easy to temporarily forget other, more substantial, interpretations of these characters.The series was shot on film and the production values are pretty good for a cheaply-made TV series of the mid-Fifties. Each episode is limited to a handful of sets, but the standing set of Baker Street is widely used and there is enough location shooting to prevent the shows becoming too claustrophobic. Shooting in France probably stretched the budget further than would have been possible in America, or even England.Each episode is only 25 minutes, so don't expect complex plots or baffling mysteries. We do get some good deduction from time to time, but on other occasions Holmes leaps to conclusions by something not far short of clairvoyance. Of course, the stories vary in quality, with a couple veering perilously close to farce (the cowgirl and suffragette stories being the most overtly comic) but most are very enjoyable. I tended to watch two or three episodes at a time and I was never bored.However, I must sound two warnings.Firstly, the source prints are very ragged: clearly they have all been through the projector far too often. They are watchable, but would benefit from extensive restoration. Since these shows are far from being classics it is unlikely this will ever happen.Secondly, while it is understandable that a company releasing budget price DVDs will use whatever prints they can get their hands on (and these might be the only ones that have survived), there can be no excuse for the wretched DVD transfer.Digital recording is inherently inferior to analogue recording, so DVDs are inherently inferior to videos (until they start to deteriorate - which happens quite quickly). I have found that even major companies producing full price DVDs often use inadequate compression software that cannot handle subtle movement (e.g. close-ups of faces). This becomes particularly obtrusive when recording old films, where worn sprocket holes cause a slight shaking of the image that completely confounds many digital recording systems.Having said that, the DVD transfer here is not just poor; it is probably the worst I have ever seen. Movement is often very jerky and there is highly distracting flickering and wavering throughout, with whole areas of the screen appearing to move independently of each other.Some episodes seem worse than others (I have no idea why) but even the best of them are dismal. You can buy bargain-basement DVD recorders that give better results than this.Nonetheless, if you can ignore the poor prints and atrocious transfer and just watch the shows, there is much innocent pleasure to be had.
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Although the production values are very cheap, the real problem with this series is the writing. Some episodes are very strong, to be sure, with careful attention to their source material, the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. But there are far too many stories that were so hastily written, it feels as though the cast has been stuck improvising for ten or so minutes at a time. Which also indicates a lack of real direction.Nonetheless, the cast is always making the effort, and seems to be enjoying themselves doing so. Even at the worst moments of the worst scripts they remain in good humor.One reviewer described the series as "Holmes for beginners." That has it about right. If you can get through the worst episodes, the best episodes will hook you on the great fascination that is Sherlock Holmes.
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This series is a real find. First I spotted some episodes on Bonanza, and now have obtained the entire 39 episode series on DVD.Although my ideal Sherlock Holmes has to be Jeremy Brett in the long-running Granada TV series, this version with Ronald Howard and H Marion-Crawford is very good indeed. The level of repartee between the two is excellent and, although the writing and acting could be a little wooden at times, the short duration of episodes means the story moves along at a good pace, sometimes using a Conan Doyle tale as its base, sometimes not.Of course there were poor episodes but these were far outweighed by the superior ones. The series does show its age in the quality of prints available, but all episodes are more or less complete and are mostly free of jitter or hiss on the soundtrack.Now halfway through the episodes, I am looking forward to seeing the whole series and would recommend this series to all Sherlockians without hesitation.
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Sherlock Holmes is a very good TV series for two reasons:Ronald Howard and H.Maron Crawford.Ronald Howard is quite far the second best Holmes of the screen(next to Basil Rathbone,of course) but this show's Watson goes un-rivaled.Not a bungler like Nigel Bruce or a completely boring and pointless character like Ian Flemming.Rather,a very interesting character with a lot of personality.Howard's Holmes reminded me more A.Conan Doyle's character of the sixty published cases than anyone else.These scripts provide both suspense and humor,something that uaually doesn't work.My favorite episode of all time was probably "The Pennsilvania gun.It was the perfect Sherlock Holmes episode.Overall,this show is a superb representation Holmes and MUST NOT BE MISSED.