Ronald Howard as Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes” (1954-1955) Episodes 1-5 – reviewed by George

So far we’ve had a couple of TV programs featuring Holmes which were shown as part of anthology series, but this is the first actual television series about Holmes (as far as I can tell). It lasted one season, 39 episodes. Made by an American company, it was shot in Paris, and stars Ronald Howard (son of Leslie Howard) as Holmes, H. Marion Crawford as Dr. Watson, and Archie Duncan as Inspector Lestrade (pronounced “Lestraid” instead of “Lestrod”). Each week for a while I’ll be reviewing 5 episodes until I’ve commented briefly on each one.
The first five are not based on Doyle stories, but are originals written for this program, the first three by the producer Sheldon Reynolds. Four of the first five are delightful, with fine performances by the three principals, excellent dialogue, and a frequent use of humor, always based on the personalities of the three men.
1. “The Case of the Cunningham Heritage” shows Watson returning to London with a wound to his left arm, earned as an army officer serving in the war in Afghanistan. He discusses his situation with an old friend at his club, stating that he wishes to share expenses, and this gentleman knows of a person ready to move into a flat and looking for a flatmate. So Watson and Holmes meet, take the flat in Marylebone W-1 at 221B Baker Street, and move in the next day. They soon are joining Lestrade at a murder scene. A young man has been murdered, ostensibly by his fiancee (Ursula Howells), and Holmes disputes all of Lestrade’s findings. Later Lestrade tells Watson, “I warn you to keep away from that man Holmes. or you’ll be insane in less than a week!”
Directed by Jack Gage.
2. “The Case of Lady Beryl” involves the murder of a man strongly suspected of offering big money for government secrets. He has been killed in the home of Lord and Lady Beryl, and Lady Beryl (Paulette Goddard!) has confessed. Peter Copley plays Lord Beryl (of the Foreign Office), and a bobby (K. Richard Larke) is introduced in a funny bit about being sent to Baker Street to tell Holmes to meet Lestrade and Watson at the murder scene, but then he stays the rest of the day helping Holmes with his experiments and is found by Lestrade, having made himself at home by removing his hat and jacket and rolling up his sleeves, with his suspenders showing.
Directed by Jack Gage.
3. “The Case of the Pennsylvania Gun” is about an impossible murder committed in Sussex inside a manor that has a moat forty feet wide to cut it off from unwelcome guests. They meet Inspector MacLeod (Russell Waters) and Holmes irritates him fairly quickly. “Where is the dumbbell?” “It’s right there!” “Where is the OTHER dumbbell?”
Directed by Sheldon Reynolds.
4. “The Case of the Texas Cowgirl” introduces our heroes to the the American West in the form of Minnie (Lucille Vines) from Bison Jack’s Wild West Rodeo, who has returned form the last show of the day to find a dead body in her hotel room. She wants to hire Holmes to help her move the body to another room – any other room. Only here is the humor outdated and tired: Chief Running Water has set up his teepee in his hotel room, the bobby speaks Black Foot, Watson lassoes the fleeing killer, and so on.
Written by Charles and Joseph Early and directed by Steve Previn.
5. “The Case of the Belligerent Ghost”
Watson sees a man die, then an hour later is punched in the eye by the dead man. The ghost is the key to the theft of a painting on loan from the Italian government. This is more in tune with the first three episodes.
Written by Charles Early and directed by Sheldon Reynolds.

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