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Kendra M. (KendraM) from NASHVILLE, TN Reviewed on 1/13/2008...
These are a disappointment. I can see being pleased with them if one is buying these to complete a Holmes collection, or if one is just curious about all the different people who played Holmes, etc.
If you are hoping for good story lines and character development, however, these will not fulfill those hopes.
Because each episode is only 25 minutes or so, there is no time for character development at all. As a matter of fact, there is no time for lots of deduction and detective work, either. As the episodes start, we are immediately introduced to the mystery at hand. Holmes is soon brought into the picture. Holmes has to start his detective work, but there is often a narrator's voice that explains what Holmes is doing-- to speed up the process there is no time to see. Then, everything is somewhat neatly tied up, but not really.
Take the Eiffel Tower episode, for instance. It starts out with a dead man and a clue in the form of the note. Lestrade immediately gets Holmes to help. Holmes goes on a treasure hunt of sorts while the voice over tells us what he's actually doing. Then they go to the Eiffel Tower to complete their clue-finding endeavor. The bad guys are up there and the episode resorts to complete slapstick/vaudeville type music/action. There is a race up and down the stairs and I mentioned to my husband that this was like watching Charlie Chaplin movies. He agreed.
Finally, the detectives go to a Dance Hall to watch some can can dancers and find what they are looking for. Remember, these episodes are about 25 minutes in length, but we have time to watch an extended set of can can dancers and the French singer sing an entire song (she was great, by the way-- I don't know who she is, but I bet she had a career)! An entire song! So, five minutes or so of the entire episode was watching the dancers and singer.
Then there is a dance hall riot-- another slapstick/vaudevillian scene. Then, the mystery is wrapped up.
Really poorly done and the films are not in great condition, either. The music is grating to one's ears and the film is grainy. Additionally, since they are not remastered, some of the sound was notably poor and difficult to decipher since some accents are very thick. A subtitle option would be beneficial, but there is not one available. Although originally aired in the 50s, they seem more like 20s, in style and execution. I do want to give credit where credit is due, though. The actors-- including Howard-- are definitely okay. They do what they can do with the material. But, they aren't excellent or memorable and the shows are just so uninteresting that their performances almost fail to matter.
So, if you are a Holmes collector, I guess you should buy these. If you are a Holmes fan who wants to see everything "Holmes", then rent these first, if you can. Because what's the use of having another Sherlock Holmes set when they are not any fun-- at all-- to watch?
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The Unsung Holmes...
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 09/01/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When discussing actors who have portrayed the character of Sherlock Holmes, most people will expound upon the merits of Jeremy Brett, Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, and Ian Richardson. However, there was another actor who brought Holmes to life in 1954, in a regular Sherlock Holmes television series that few remember and many have not seen. As such, Ronald Howard (son of the famous actor Leslie Howard), is probably the most unsung Holmes of all.Howard was very competent, if a bit young, as Holmes, and really looked the part when clad in the traditional costume of the character, complete with deerstalker cap and pipe. Howard's Holmes is a bit less cold and freneticly focused than Brett, and therefore less accurate, but that is part and parcel with television adaptations of the time.Watson is also competently portrayed by a somewhat Victor Buono-ish Howard Marion-Crawford. Crawford's Watson is both just serious enough and just slightly bumbling enough to be perfect. While not as serious as latter-day Watsons, but not quite as buffoonish as the much-loved Nigel Bruce version, Crawford can move freely between both extremes. Crawford went on to appear in such classics as "Charge of the Light Brigade" and "Lawrence of Arabia".One of the hidden treasures here has to be Archie Duncan as Inspector Lestrade. Duncan plays the long-suffering detective with such deadpan grace and humor that the Lestrade character comes alive as never before. If anything, Duncan's Lestrade tends to remind one of Roland Young's Topper character.The episodes on this set are not the complete series (which had 39 episodes in all), but there is a fair representation of the work. The stories range from excellent to mildly entertaining. At times, Holmes is less than effective (in one episode, he throws a coin away to keep from criminals from getting it, whereas the "real" Holmes would have palmed the coin and gave the impression he threw it away). Some of the mysteries are well-written, and in one, Holmes deduces a crime by the direction of fibers in a rope. Three of the episodes faithfully use original Holmes stories from the official canon, "The Red Headed League" being the most complete. The initial meeting of Holmes and Watson is also faithfully presented from Doyle's text, and in the third, a puzzle involving a pair of dumbells is inserted into an original story. Best of all, the characters are more or less "in character". One of the most fun episodes revolves around Watson suspecting Holmes of being a criminal, and in another, Holmes seems to have vanished. In both, Watson and Lestrade try to use Holmes' methods to solve the mysteries.One of the interesting things about this series is that, despite the obviously limited budget, several scenes were done on location (most notably in and around the Eiffel Tower, and what appears to be the Parliment buildings in London).Besides being one of the earliest TV versions of Sherlock Holmes, this series has one other tidbit of note; the opening shot is remarkably similar to one later used by Granada for the Jeremy Brett series. A camera starts out high above the street on a sign that clearly reads "Baker Street", and proceeds to pan down to a policeman, carriages, and other activity.As usual with Madacy, the prints are of questionable quality and sources. These episodes were obviously transferred from an inferior video source, and some of the prints used here are worse than others. That having been said, the episodes included are, for the most part, complete, and unavailable elsewhere. As such, the student of the master detective can't go wrong for the price."
One of the best Holmes adaptations for television!!!
Jake Marsico | Flagstaff,AZ | 06/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1954,writer-producer Sheldon Reynolds brought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary detective Sherlock Holmes to television screens in a 36-episode series that was one of the first ever television series made for syndication (television was about six years old at the time!!).Ronald Howard,the son of legendary actor Leslie Howard,stars in the title role along with the witty H.Marion Crawford as his partner-in-crime Dr.Watson and Archie Duncan as the hilarious Inspector Lestrade that brings more tongue-in-cheek mystery than serious crime solving! The series' storylines ironically has nothing to do with the original Conan Doyle stories (THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE being the only episode of the series that's based on a Conan Doyle story),but nevertheless doesn't take away the humor,continuity,or style.This Madacy 2-disc TV Favorites edition contains ten out of the thirty-six episodes that includes: THE CASE OF THE EIFFEL TOWER,THE CASE OF THE JOLLY HANGMAN (incorrectly states this as the second episode on disc one,it's actually the LAST episode of disc one!),THE CASE OF THE CUNNINGHAM HERITAGE (the pilot episode),THE CASE OF THE DIAMOND TOOTH,THE CASE OF THE NEUROTIC DETECTIVE,THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE,THE CASE OF THE VANISHED DETECTIVE,THE NIGHT-TRAIN RIDDLE,THE CASE OF THE PENNSYLVANIA GUN,and THE CASE OF THE BAKER STREET BACHELORS.Plus,a videotaped on-screen introduction from Horror master Christopher Lee (who starred as Watson in Hammer Films' version of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and as Holmes in several made for television movies) rounds out both discs as well!! Although all of the shows are in glorious black & white and are uncut,there is a catch.Some of the episodes contain video glitches and artifacts as looks from what could be taken from the ten tape box set of the series,also produced by Madacy.Despite these minor problems,the DVD set is a great collection of shows that are fast-paced,humorous,and fun to watch! I recommend this set as well as the Madacy recently-released five volume collection of this series on DVD (which I hope to find soon!!) and enjoy the finest hours of television's first Sherlock Holmes!!!"
Only half of the collection
Jake Marsico | 08/10/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have the Sherlock Holmes collection on VHS. This DVD version contains only half the episodes that were in the VHS version. My favorites, "The belligerent ghost" and "haunted gainsborough" were not included in the DVD collection. I hope they will soon be released as a second collection.All that aside, this is a wonderful portrayal of Sherlock Holmes starring Ronald Howard, son of Leslie Howard. It is lighhearted and witty.Be aware that the film quality is only fair. It has been restored from damaged film."
Also available as part of a larger collection
Jake Marsico | 05/30/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Madacy recently released a 5-DVD set of 20 episodes, including the 10 episodes in this set. If you like this TV series, you might consider getting the larger set instead of this one. The ASIN for the larger set is B0001Z3TS4.I personally like this TV series. Ronald Howard is more personable than most others who have played Sherlock Holmes - more human - but still quirky and particular. In this series, he seems to enjoy being smarter than the other characters, but he does it with more of a sense of humor, rather then being obnoxious about it. Like any TV series, some episodes are better than others, but I found them all enjoyable."
James LaSkaia | 06/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While this series may not be as largely budgeted or as well-known as other depictions of Doyle's series of works, it is nonetheless very enjoyable. While the stories in it are not perfectly in keeping with what Doyle wrote originally [Many are, in fact, original and not of the series at all], the series has the essence of what Doyle intended, something so often lacking in other Holmes films.
If you tire of bad portrayals, horrid 'creative' reworkings of the classics which cease to be about Holmes at all, this series may be a relief to you. And with such a good price, it is well-worth the time spent watching."