Sherlock Holmes: Ronald Howard
Dr. Watson: Howard Marion-Crawford
Writer: Sheldon Reynolds
“Sherlock Holmes”, the series named after its lead character, was a half-hour long drama series that aired between the years 1954 and 1955. In total, 39 episodes were filmed, some of which borrowed heavily from Canon, while others were pure pastiches. Frequently lighter in content, the plot remains similar to the stories found in Canon, with Holmes and Watson working together to solve some of London’s more baffling crimes.
Because this series provides a lighter look into Holmes and Watson’s relationship (both personal and profession), “Sherlock Holmes” proves to be quite entertaining. There is a wry sense of humour found within most of these episodes, giving the viewer the impression that they might just be watching a parody. While not exactly a classic, the series is worth watching, if not for the amusement of watching Lestrade bumbling his way through an investigation, then for the sheer ridiculousness of half of Holmes’ cases. “Sherlock Holmes” is Sherlock Holmes done for entertainment value alone, so don’t expect anything too profound. If, however, you have a few Sunday afternoons to spare, and need a distraction, “Sherlock Holmes” does make for enjoyable viewing.
Ronald Howard as Sherlock Holmes:
Ronald Howard’s Sherlock Holmes is not the Holmes of Canon. That being said, he is, on occasion, quite amusing. There are, however, times when he is simply too over-the-top to take seriously (The Case of the Texas Cowgirl comes to mind). Howard’s Holmes is a playful Holmes, a contented Holmes, and, oddly enough, a gleeful Holmes. He is the family Holmes, approved for all ages, which is very much what one would expect from a series made in the idyllic fifties. He is certainly worth viewing, and not just for his particular take on Holmes –Ronald Howard’s Holmes is also exceedingly tactile, which happens to make Ronald Howard’s Holmes incredibly slashy.
Howard Marion-Crawford as Dr. Watson:
Howard Marion-Crawford is actually a rather captivating Watson. I suspect this has something to do with his Watson being a competent Watson, something that, at this point in history, audiences had not seen. Marion-Crawford’s Watson is an intelligent Watson, too; coming across as very much Holmes’ equal (he even knows his way around a chemistry table). This makes for quite the interesting take on our beloved Doctor, Marion-Crawford’s Watson a lot less awed by Holmes, and a lot more exasperated by Holmes, forcing Holmes to actually work for Watson’s affections. This levelling of playing fields proves quite enjoyable as Holmes is no longer able to take Watson for granted (a deviation from Canon, yes, but one that I found I rather enjoyed). In short, Marion-Crawford’s Watson is quite delightful.
Archie Duncan as Inspector Lestrade (and other, minor characters):
It is surprising how often Archie Duncan shows up in these episodes. In addition to playing Inspector Lestrade (who appears in nearly all of the episodes), Duncan also takes on the role of several minor, one-shot characters (all in various disguises, of course). This reusing of actors is actually pretty common in this series, but nowhere are we more pleased than with Duncan. While perhaps not entirely the Lestrade of Canon, Duncan still manages to make the character very realistic. He is commanding in a way one wouldn’t expect, and yet, manages to bumble his way through several cases as well. While this can on occasion come across as inconsistent, the viewer will undoubtedly refrain from blaming Duncan; he is simply too loveable as a character (in whatever incarnation) to admonish.
The Case of the Cunningham Heritage
The Case of the Cunningham Heritage begins with an adaptation of Holmes and Watson’s first meeting in STUD. This is quite delightful, as too few adaptations (particularly film and television adaptations) have examined STUD. Our introduction, then, to Holmes and Watson is quite exciting.
What is perhaps more exciting is that both Holmes and Watson are exceptionally well cast. Watson looks like Watson, and Holmes looks like Holmes (although it should be pointed out that this is not an initial impression; Howard does take some getting used to). Even their mannerisms, while not exact, are close enough to make the characters quite recognizable.
Immediately, too, Holmes and Watson appear quite slashy. They stand too close, they lean into one another, and, perhaps best of all, Howard is incredibly tactile with Crawford, touching him on more occasions than I could count.
Baker Street, too, is a fantastic replica. It is simply delightful to witness Holmes and Watson moving in.
The episode does have its drawbacks, however. Holmes does not wait to include Watson in his cases, dragging Watson into a partnership mere moments after their meeting. This is quite jarring. As is Holmes’ tendency to wear his deerstalker and cape while traipsing around London.
The case itself is quite interesting. The story is a tad overdramatic, but the case (which combines elements from STUD with an original case) is engaging enough and is, at times, quite funny. The fight scenes, however, leave much to be desired. Overall, an interesting take on Holmes and Watson.
The Case of Lady Beryl
The Case of Lady Beryl begins, literally, moments after the close of The Cunningham Heritage. The story is a lose interpretation of The Second Stain. The characters are borrowed, with elements of the plot used as well, but the case itself remains quite different. It is still interesting enough, although limited, as it is quite challenging to plot an entire case in such a short time span (thirty minutes).
Holmes and Watson here, however, are utterly delightful (truly these episodes are meant more as character studies than pastiches). Holmes is a complete playboy in this episode, Watson his pimp, and so it is quite amusing to watch the two of them interact. Indeed, even this early into their relationship the attraction is quite obvious.
The Case of the Pennsylvania Gun
Any story which begins with Holmes and Watson lounging around in housecoats, enjoying domestic life, automatically ranks high on my list of favourites. Here we get exactly that.
The Case of the Pennsylvania Gun borrows elements from The Valley of Fear, and yet, still manages to come across as a completely original case. The back story (what in Canon is known as the story of the Scowrers) has been completely replaced, and yet Holmes and Watson still head out to Birlstone Manor. This is quite clever, for it reminds the viewer of Canon, and yet is new enough to remain intriguing.
The story’s most noteworthy element, of course, is Holmes and Watson, and their interaction. Here they are quite married, and spend a good deal of time touching, leaning into one another, and teasing one another. Indeed, at one point Holmes and Watson are lying side by side in the grass, holding hands. I’m not sure words exist to describe the sheer delightfulness of that particular scene.
The Case of the Texas Cowgirl
No series would be complete without a least one fumble, and here Reynolds drops the ball completely. In fact, a worse adaptation I have yet to see. Words cannot describe the horror that is The Texas Cowgirl.
Campy, over the top, and completely out of genre, The Texas Cowgirl features such cringe-worthy scenes as Watson running after a covered wagon while Holmes taunts him from the back, the blatantly stereotypical depiction of a ‘red Indian’, complete with tepee and peace pipe, and a good old fashioned shoot-out. That’s right, it’s the Wild West meets Baker Street, and unlike tea and crumpets, these two were never meant to intermingle.
To make matters worse, The Texas Cowgirl is portrayed by a second rate actress whose only talents seems to be chewing gum. I believe I shuddered each time she referred to Holmes and ‘Shar-luck’. Even the plot doesn’t make sense. The whole thing feels like an acid trip gone wrong (and we’re sticking to the theory that that is exactly what this was). In fact, the episode isn’t even worth reviewing, Watson managing to stop his fumbling long enough to lasso the criminal not withstanding.
Avoid this one, if you can.
The Case of the Belligerent Ghost
After the horror that was The Texas Cowgirl, it was an immense relief to watch The Belligerent Ghost. This is a delightfully funny episode, complete with an opening scene in which Holmes doctors to an injured Watson.
There is a lot of banter, teasing, flirting and innuendo in this episode. This, combined with Holmes’ tendency to touch Watson at every available moment, makes for subtextual bliss. In fact, despite a somewhat interesting plot, and a sense of intrigue in uncovering the mystery, this episode is worth seeing solely for the slash.
The Case of the Shy Ballerina
While nowhere near as bad as The Texas Cowgirl (which shall be the yardstick from which I forever measure “bad”) The Shy Ballerina is perhaps not the best of adaptations. This has more to do with Holmes than the case itself (although the ballerina is completely crazy, which makes absolutely no sense, not to mention Reynolds has committed the biggest naming faux pas of all times –a Russian ballet director, named Smirnoff? Um, no).
That is not to say that the case was perfect (indeed, this series has a tendency to really camp up foreign stereotypes, and here we find no exception to the rule), but we are so distracted by Holmes’ behaviour that it does not matter. To put it bluntly; Holmes is an ass. What’s worse, I can’t fully comprehend why. He’s simply a complete jerk in this episode, with no explanation given. His treatment of Watson is despicable, and yet no one bothers to explain why Holmes has undergone this dramatic personality shift. It is rather jarring. Perhaps this, along with the plot holes, could have been corrected with a longer episode. I believe this episode, above all others, suffers the most for its short length.
The Case of the Winthrop Legend
The Winthrop Legend, interestingly enough, informs us that Holmes and Watson have only known one another two weeks. If this is the case, then truly Holmes and Watson’s romance is quite the whirlwind one. There really is no other explanation; the slash in this series is so prevalent that even two weeks into their relationship I am convinced they are sleeping together.
We also learn that Holmes, rather than using a chair, prefers to lounge across a fainting couch when visitors call. While quite unusual (and perplexing) this does present quite the pleasing visual.
The case itself is quite interesting, feeling like a cross between The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Five Orange-Pips. In fact, I could have quite easily sat through an hour, even two hours (and I think the case would have gained something had it been allowed the time). The atmosphere is very dark, almost gothic in nature, the case suspenseful and intriguing. Truly, this is one of the better episodes, worthy even of Canon.
Bonus points, of course, go to Holmes in a tux, arriving at Winthrop Manor, on Watson’s arm.
The Case of the Blind Man’s Bluff
The opening to this case is very cheesy. Fortunately, after we are introduced to the background characters, we are immediately treated to the sight of Watson, in the bathtub, calling out for Holmes. It gets better. Holmes is not home, and so Watson is forced to wrap himself in a loose housecoat and answer the door. Here we are treated to Holmes in disguise, who then immediately chooses to grab half-naked Watson and pull him close.
Truly, a more delightful moment we have not seen.
The case itself is mediocre at best. The plot is predictable, and the scenes quite overly dramatic at times. The casting, too, is rather weak, for most of the supporting characters neither look the part, nor play the part well. The pacing is slow.
Fortunately, where the case fails, Holmes and Watson succeed. We are treated to Watson’s threats to move out, a threat which falls short upon Watson realizing that he cannot live (after 2 weeks?) without his Holmes. We are treated, too, to the final scene, in which Holmes and Watson walk into the sunset, arm in arm.
Also, the scene in which Holmes and Watson break into the hospital records room is sheer genius. Canon itself couldn’t have done it better.
The Case of Harry Croker
This is a particularly amusing case, not only in that it features Eugene Deckers, who plays Harry Croker (and is a comedic genius), but in that it also features Sherlock Holmes, fanboy extraordinaire. Croker is a world renowned escape artist, Holmes his biggest fan. Throughout the episode Holmes follows Croker around like a lovesick puppy dog. It’s really quite hysterical.
The case itself is mediocre at best, the story completely falling apart at the end, but the episode is worth watching, if not for the hilarity, than for the Holmes/Watson interaction.
This episode is ripe with subtext. Indeed, at one point Holmes invites Watson to accompany him to the music hall, his shy awkwardness in this scene reminiscent of a young boy asking a girl for a first date. It gets better. As the episode progresses, Holmes is given a chance to mark his territory, Holmes becoming exceedingly jealous of the women Watson comes into contact with.
Perhaps best of all, Holmes, at one point during the episode, locks himself in a closet. We have not even mentioned Holmes jumping Watson in an effort to prove a point. Nor have we mentioned the winking. All around, this is one of the slashier episodes I’ve seen.
The Mother Hubbard Case
Oddly enough, despite the light-hearted feel surrounding most of the Howard series, this episode is quite disturbing. Case wise, it is one of my favourites, as it features a female serial killer. Indeed, despite a lot of sub-par acting by the majority of the supporting cast, this delightful twist makes this episode absolutely compelling.
Killer ‘Gramma’ fudge aside, this episode is also noteworthy in that it contains a lot of Holmes/Watson interaction. Although by now you’re likely sensing a theme (yes, this series is exceedingly slashy), it is important to point out that each episode tends to push the envelope just that little bit further.
Here, for example, we are treated to Watson’s narrative on how much he loves watching Holmes, Holmes manhandling Watson, Holmes and Watson sharing afternoon tea, and, finally, Holmes and Watson vacationing on a beach (complete with Watson is a straw hat!). Truly, this is a delightful episode.
The Case of the Red Headed League
I must first confess how utterly fantastic it was to sit through a canon-based adaptation. The fact that it was done well (which is surprising, especially given the time restraints) only makes the entire thing that much better.
Watson, too, is especially endearing in this story. Although Crawford’s Watson tends to be a good deal more exasperated than the Watson found in Canon, he manages to come across as quite the solid character. He can, on occasion (as this episode proves) come across as entirely too serious –too Holmes-like, in fact– but for the most part he plays the role commendably (especially given the Watson-models created by predecessors).
Sadly, were Watson excels, Holmes wanes. We have mentioned before Howard’s tendency to play up Holmes’ more playful nature. In this particular case (as in others) he takes this to the extreme, Holmes becoming somewhat obnoxious. In fact, at times Holmes reminded me of a spoiled child suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder.
The Case of the Shoeless Engineer
As the episode title might suggest, The Case of the Shoeless Engineer is a loose adaptation of The Engineer’s Thumb. In fact, the story’s are much the same, save that the execution is quite different. This is a case-centric episode, with lots of back-story, and very little Holmes/Watson.
Despite Holmes and Watson’s absence, the case is exceptionally well managed, proving to be quite interesting, not to mention engaging. In fact, the case was so strong that I very nearly missed the significance of Watson stripping down in front of Holmes.
I was, of course, particularly delighted by two elements of this episode. I was thrilled to discover that the true hero of this story was the female character, and I was ecstatic to see Watson coming to Holmes’ rescue. All around, quite the charming episode.
The Case of the Split Ticket
I must confess; I am torn on this episode. In part, it was a fairly interesting case, with the exception that they tended to play upon Irish stereotypes (which, while understandable given the decade these were made, were incredibly annoying in modern context). That being said, the feature actor who played Brian (our Irishman) was utterly fantastic. A more convincing performance I have not seen.
My biggest complaint is that Holmes and Watson seem ridiculously out of character. Watson has become Holmes; focused entirely on deduction and reason. Whereas Holmes has become a blundering idiot.
I suspect they were going for playful (Holmes’ attempts to master slight of hand at times amusing), but overall the pair just didn’t seem like themselves. I felt as thought I was watching a parody of Holmes and Watson. Overall, it was quite disappointing.
The Case of the French Interpreter
This is perhaps one of the oddest cases to date, and not solely because they re-wrote The Greek Interpreter to take out a Greek and insert a Frenchman (and I honestly suspect that they simply could not find a Greek actor). This episode is odd because it focused so obviously on London. As the series was originally filmed in France (which might also explain the change from Greek to French), I suspect that this episode marked the ‘road trip’ to London episode. I think Holmes and Watson walked past Big Ben a total of eight times in the half-hour episode.
Aside from these oddities (which were really quite distracting) the episode is quite good. Watson is particularly delightful in this episode (and indeed, Crawford’s Watson is a good deal more intelligent that even the Watson found in Canon). Holmes, too, is far more himself, going out of his way to (in a deviation) save both the French interpreter and the French brother.
And, although light on slash, Watson squeezing Holmes’ shoulder more than makes up for any missed subtext.
The Case of the Singing Violin
I must confess; this episode is rather disappointing. The case itself is exceedingly predictable (not to mention cliché, even at the time it was made –and especially when compared to Canon, as Doyle uses the plot on several occasions –that of a step-father plotting against his step-daughter in order to keep her inheritance). In fact, I knew the exact outcome within the first minute of the episode.
It’s not all bad, however. Holmes and Watson do spend some time cuddling in a carriage. And Holmes once again finds himself hanging out in the (metaphorical and literal) closet. Watson also gets to showcase his fine athletic skills, something which Holmes no-doubt appreciated. And while at times Holmes is a complete ass to Watson, for the most part their interaction is quite endearing.
The Case of the Greystone Inscription
This episode is a (very) loose adaptation of The Musgrave Ritual. That being said, the episode is also exceptionally well done. It is interesting, suspenseful, and intriguing (if not a little rushed). It is also not without its flaws.
The lead actress, for example, is quite terrible, her acting completely unconvincing. She is easily ignored, as are the various other quibbles found within this episode, for they are quickly overshadowed by Holmes and Watson.
While not, perhaps, the slashiest of episodes, The Greystone Inscription does contain one of the slashier introductions in the series. Here, Holmes has cooked Watson a lobster breakfast, an attempt to apologize for something he has done to offend Watson. Watson is unrelenting, continuing to hold his grudge until Holmes literally begs for forgiveness. When Watson finally does cave, we are then treated to Holmes and Watson, giddy and giggling like a pair of school girls. The scene is mind-blowing. Overall, a remarkably entertaining episode.
The Case of the Laughing Mummy
Of all the episodes I have seen to date, The Laughing Mummy has easily made my list of favourites. The plot is quite original, but so true to Canon that one can almost imagine the story was lifted from a collection of Doyle’s unpublished works. That this was accomplished in half an hour is even more remarkable.
The case aside, the interaction between Holmes and Watson is also utterly delightful, adding to the brilliance that is this pastiche. The story begins with Holmes and Watson on vacation, and quickly showcases Holmes’ jealousy –first with a barmaid, and then later with Watson’s friend (it should also be noted that Watson’s friend –both the character and the actor– is simply fantastic).
If that isn’t enough, we are then treated to Holmes referring to Watson using an old, childhood moniker. To see the expression on Holmes’ face as he calls out for ‘Blinko’ is a thing of sheer comedic genius. Truly this is quite the amusing, and interesting episode. That it is also one of the slashier episodes only improves the experience.
The Case of the Thistle Killer
Perhaps in contrast to The Laughing Mummy, The Thistle Killer is a darker, more sombre episode. The case presented is a true, good-old-fashioned mystery, complete with fog-filled London streets and the glare of night-time street lamps. The profiling of a serial killer is quite reminiscent of the historical Jack the Ripper slayings, save that they have been cleaned up for 1950s television.
Overall, the case is quite good, though at times if felt quite disconnected. Several lose ends were present throughout the episode, which could have benefited from some tying. Holmes’ deductive reasoning comes to mind, for this process was sloppy at best. Certainly not the Holmes we have come to know and love (even in this incarnation).
Fortunately, that can easily be forgiven, for at one point in the case Holmes asks Watson if he would be willing to dress as a woman and play the decoy. Watson refuses, but it is interesting to know that Holmes’ fantasies include Watson is a corset.
The Case of the Vanished Detective
I am still a little, what is the word… disturbed by this episode. It was… creepy. Very, very creepy. It also made little sense, which only adds to one’s sense of horror, for in addition to awkward discomfort, one was also left hopelessly confused and without answer.
The story, as the title would suggest, begins with Holmes’ disappearance. Watson, along-side Lestrade, frantically searches for Holmes. This is all well and good, and would actually be quite the interesting premise, where it not for the fact that, upon finding Holmes, it is discovered that Watson and Lestrade have interfered with Holmes investigation, and that Holmes was not, in fact, missing, but rather, undercover.
Still, not a bad premise. That is, until we get to the puppets.
It gets worse, because the case actually ends with Holmes taking an interest in learning the art of puppeteering. The puppets alone are creepy. Holmes grinning gleefully over a puppet, even more so.
Somewhere in the midst of all of this is a plot. It is, however, hard to say what this plot is. I suspect the sheer terror associated with the puppets drove this information from my brain. Sadly, I am not willing to re-watch the episode in hopes of providing a better review. It is possible that you should skip it, too. God knows I wish I had.
The Case of the Careless Suffragette
From thrilled to offended, all within the span of an episode.
The Careless Suffragette tells the story of the fight to give women the vote. Applause worthy, really, that is until the female characters in the episode are portrayed as terrorists (and idiotic ones at that). Apparently, in this series, women are only capable of giggling stupidly and plotting the destruction of those gosh, darn, evil men.
Ignoring for a moment the plot, the episode degrades even further. Holmes’ involvement and his relationship to the client are quite confusing. Indeed, at times even Holmes appears confused as to why he has been called in on the case. Even the solving of the case (if one can call it a case) occurs more by sheer luck than Holmes’ talent.
The story, then, is poorly held together, the subject matter exceedingly insulting, and the execution almost laughable. I am still trying to wrap my head around why Lestrade chose this episode to have a nervous breakdown. Another one to skip.
The Case of the Reluctant Carpenter
The Reluctant Carpenter presents a rather grim case. The story of a serial arsonist (terrorist, even) predominates this half hour, making the episode seem almost a procedural. That being said, the plot itself is quite twisted, very interesting and manages, despite lagging slightly near the climax, to both enthral and captivate its audience.
In addition to an interesting story, there are also several delightful moments surrounding Holmes and Watson. As the case opens, we are treated to Holmes deducing to Watson’s amazement (very Canon-esque). In this instance, however, Holmes’ logic is rather backwards, leading amusingly to Watson’s utter confusion.
We also learn that Watson, apparently, has a turn for chemistry. Unlike Canon, which saw only Holmes bent over his chemistry table, Holmes and Watson conduct experiments together. This causes Holmes and Watson to spend a good deal of time either leaning into one another or glancing over one another’s shoulders.
Perhaps best of all, though, is the conclusion. Having saved the day, Holmes and Watson literally walk off arm in arm. A truly delightful ending.
The Case of the Deadly Prophecy
The Deadly Prophecy is perhaps one of the best written episodes in the Howard series. The case itself is incredibly gripping. The story of a sleepwalking young boy who foretells the deaths of a small school’s faculty blends the realistic with the supernatural in such a way as to perplex even Holmes (an astute student of the realistic).
The only downside to this case is that, once again, a woman is introduced to engage Holmes’ attention. This has been tried numerous times, by this and many other pastiches, and it has never worked –not even in Canon. Holmes simply isn’t attracted to the opposite sex. To force him to behave otherwise is to insult the very foundation of his character.
Fortunately, then, Holmes’ interest proves to be limited to the case.
There are other quibbles with this episode (the ending does come across as a tad anti-climatic) but overall it is simply a well written pastiche. The premise is what makes this case interesting, but it is the final scene, in which Watson out deduces Holmes, that makes this episode brilliant.
The Christmas Pudding
I must confess; I am a sucker for Christmas specials. Imagine, then, my delight when I started this episode, only to be confronted with images of the holiday, complete with snow filled streets. I suspect I became a little giddy.
The case itself was reasonable. The threats to Holmes’ life were quite well done, and I truly felt both his and Watson’s worry and fear. Then there was Holmes’ reaction to Watson, Holmes trying everything in his power to get Watson out of Baker Street (even going so far as to insult him) all in an effort to keep Watson safe. Truly this was very touching.
That, however, is the height of what can be said regarding the episode. The remainder of the story is somewhat lost in its predictability. The plot is unrealistic, cliché, and entirely played, which is quite the shame, because the resulting Holmes/Watson interaction was really quite lovely.
I suppose that can be forgiven, not only for the inside-look into the depths of Holmes and Watson’s feelings for one another, but also for the reappearance of the infamous wax dummy.
The Night Train Riddle
I should perhaps begin by mentioning that I recall little of the actual plot surrounding this episode. That, however, is unimportant, as this episode is more than worth watching on the basis of subtext alone. It is, quite simply, the slashiest episode to date.
The episode begins with Holmes and Watson on a train, heading for destinations unknown, Watson quite eager to start their ‘holiday’. Suddenly, the train jolts to a stop and Holmes and Watson, carried by momentum, fall into one another, becoming somewhat locked in one another’s embrace.
This stop signals the start of the case, much to Watson’s disappointment, who was so looking forward to a couple of uninterrupted days with Holmes in the country. Oh, my.
I think the case was meant to imply that clowns equal pedophiles. I’m not entirely certain. I actually don’t think I want to know.
Some time passes and eventual Holmes and Watson find the missing boy (or rather, his location). It is here that we are treated to heroic Watson, Watson putting his life at risk to jump a man with a gun. Watson, you see, is bent on punishing this man for interrupting his vacation. No one interferes with Holmes and Watson’s alone time. No one.
Fortunately for Watson, having retrieved the boy and captured the criminals, there is still ample time left to continue on their vacation. Watson is delighted. So much so that he winks at Holmes. They then walk off into the sunset, arm in arm.
I’m not actually exaggerating. This episode really is that slashy.
The Case of the Violent Suitor
The story of an advice columnist caught up in a deadly love triangle makes for quite the interesting episode. Aunt Lotti’s story, however, is not what makes this episode enjoyable. Here, we are far more interested in Holmes and Watson.
They resolve the case quite quickly, but not before Holmes has a chance to play match-maker. This naturally amuses Watson beyond comprehension, and one gets the sense that Watson is only too aware of just how much of a hopeless romantic Holmes can be. Their flirting is not limited to Holmes’ interaction with his client. Indeed, from the very beginning (where we are treated to Watson coyly ignoring Holmes by stuffing his ears with cotton) to the very end (where we are treated with quite the adorable Holmes/Watson moment) this episode showcases the sweet, domestic side of Holmes and Watson’s relationship.
That is not to say that the episode is without its flaws. Sadly, Lestrade is quite the bumbling fool in this episode. The plot itself feels quite rushed, and most of the fight scenes are badly choreographed. Still, this does not distract from Holmes and Watson, so I really cannot complain.
The Case of the Baker Street Nursemaids
This is perhaps the oddest episode I have seen to date. It is quite baffling, but more than that, it is also quite ridiculous.
The plot opens with Holmes chasing a bee around the sitting room in Baker Street (why, we do not know). This is quickly replaced (still without explanation) by the arrival of an infant.
Yes, an infant.
It seems someone has left a baby on Holmes and Watson’s doorstep. For reasons unexplained, Watson suspects the baby is Holmes’. This, while ludicrous, proves quite amusing, for Holmes assures Watson that such a thing is not possible (imply that Holmes has never had sex with a woman). At this point we still haven’t figured out why the infant is there, and so we are left with the impression that Holmes and Watson are about to incorporate a child into their domestic life. Victorian gay adoption, perhaps?
I will confess, Holmes and Watson’s interaction with the child, while at times annoying, was at times quite humourous. Needless to say, neither man knew exactly what to do with a child.
Eventually a plot comes out (kidnapping) and from here the episode finally moves forward. Having been treated to domestic-Holmes and Watson, the viewer will undoubtedly be thrilled to discover that Holmes and Watson’s interaction becomes increasingly slashy as the episode moves forward. Indeed, at one point Watson becomes injured, forcing Holmes to both comfort Watson, and doctor his wounds. He even goes so far as to undo Watson’s tie!
I do, however, have one very large complaint. For reasons unexplained, the episode deviates from Canon in that it presents Holmes as knowing nothing regarding boxing. Holmes, the boxer, knowing nothing of boxing! Sacrilege. Even witnessing Watson teaching Holmes the art (something with requires a good deal of touching) is not enough to garner my forgiveness.
The Case of the Perfect Husband
This is a rather disturbing case. The episode tells the tale of a serial killer husband, who announces to his victims that he intends to kill them a full 24 hours before the fact. He then attempts to persuade them (and the world) that they are experiencing delusions and paranoia, a tactic which proves quite successful.
This plot occupies most of the episode, with Holmes and Watson only appearing in an official capacity. That being said, the episode is not without subtext. Indeed, upon first meeting their client (the wife in danger of losing her life) Holmes momentarily forgets himself and flirts, outright and in public, with Watson. When Holmes recalls himself, we are treated to quite the delicate blush; and it is important to note that rosy scarlet does look rather good on Howard.
Overall, though, the story is too disturbing to pay attention to Holmes and Watson. In fact, I still shiver to think of the husband. The episode is worth watching for the story alone.
The Case of the Jolly Hangman
Another disturbing case, and yet one that makes little sense. There is an attempt at explaining the overall plot, but it seems simply too ludicrous for me to piece together. Sadly, despite the looseness of the plot, the conclusion is entirely predictable.
The episode is not wholly disappointing. What the plot lacks is more than made up for upon meeting our Scottish inspector. He is, of course, Lestrade (or rather, Archie Duncan) but claims instead to be Lestrade’s Scottish cousin. As a disguise, Duncan has taken to wearing a pair of sideburns and a moustache. It’s really quite charming.
Then, of course, there is Holmes and Watson sitting shoulder to shoulder, practically cuddling on the train ride back to London. An endearing moment, to be sure.
Overall, though, this is not one of the better episodes.
The Case of the Impostor Mystery
This episode presents what is perhaps one of the more interesting concepts in the series. In The Impostor Mystery, Sherlock Holmes returns to London after a holiday to discover that, in his absence, someone has been impersonating him. This Holmes is so good, apparently, that he even has Lestrade fooled.
As mentioned above, the episode is interesting, and, at times, good; it is not, however, the best of the bunch. There are moments of complete lunacy, and at times the plot is entirely too obvious, but overall the story itself is worth watching.
The episode is worth watching, too, for the slash. Indeed, at one point Holmes, in response to Watson’s question of where they are going, responds:
“Back to the hotel, where you will get out of those clothes!”
The Case of the Eiffel Tower
This, of course, is the mandatory Holmes and Watson go to Paris. As the series was filmed in France, we have long been expecting this particular episode. Sadly, despite some lovely scenery, the episode is quite diminished by the serious lack of plot.
Oh, there are hints of a plot, and I suspect the episode would have made sense had it been allotted an hour, but within the confines of half an hour, the story falls short.
I think the episode had something to do with espionage, but midway through the episode the story shifts, becoming Holmes and Watson’s quest to retrieve an object they had at the beginning of the episode. Sadly, we don’t actually get to know what this object is, or what importance it serves, merely that Holmes and Watson want it. Perhaps because it is shiny. I honestly don’t know.
Let’s not get started on the fact that Holmes apparently does not speak French in this series. Odd, because I’m fairly certain his Canon counterpart does. In fact, even Holmes’ comment on Watson’s blushing does not make up for this oversight.
The Case of the Exhumed Client
I must confess; I am rather impressed with this episode. The Exhumed Client is old-school Sherlock Holmes. In fact, it feels almost like HOUND; Holmes and Watson perfectly in character, the case mysterious, the twist delightful, and the solution extraordinary.
Perhaps best of all is the fact that Watson is quite clever in this episode –a fact that seems to please Holmes a good deal, Holmes grinning with feverish delight whenever Watson does something ‘clever’.
The episode, of course, gets better, because in addition to a fantastic plot, there is also the Holmes/Watson slash. Between Watson’s offer to stay and sit vigil with Holmes, to Holmes’ cries for Watson’s help, to Watson carrying Holmes downstairs and placing him in Watson’s bed; the entire episode is practically pornographic. Really, what more could a girl ask for?
The Case of the Impromptu Performance
Although not a bad episode, The Impromptu Performance is… lacklustre, perhaps? It’s certain your standard fare –no bells and whistles, just a typical, at times ho-hum, Sherlock Holmes case.
It holds together though, and is enjoyable to watch, if not for a sound resolution, then for the delightfully slashy ending. Indeed, there are subtext-worthy scenes throughout this episode, so it is worth seeing. I would perhaps caution skipping the very beginning, however. I am still not certain why Holmes felt compelled to drink his chemistry experiment.
The Case of the Baker Street Bachelors
This episode is completely silly, completely out of character (for both Holmes and Watson) and yet a ton of fun. In it, Holmes sets out to investigate a ‘marriage bureau’ (think dating service) an act which requires Holmes (and Watson) to woo a couple of ‘eligible’ women.
Oddly enough, it is Watson, rather than Holmes, who appears awkward around these girls. Obviously Watson has by this point become a confirmed homosexual. Between his shock and his blushes, you can almost picture Watson squirming with awkwardness. Eeew, girls!
Holmes, although clearly uncomfortable, is able to pull the scheme off, though not without landing himself in jail –something that amuses Lestrade to no end. From this point on we get a particularly hyper and somewhat annoying Holmes. Certainly this isn’t the Holmes of Canon, though he is quite amusing.
All’s well that end’s well when Watson steps up to the plate, taking on the case while Holmes paces the length of his cell.
The Case of the Royal Murder
Despite what is unarguably one of the better cases in the series, The Royal Murder is noteworthy entirely for its slashiness. The case itself is very Canon-esque, Holmes and Watson investigating a typical murder in the countryside. It’s well done, enjoyable, and manages to hold the viewers attention for the duration of the episode.
But, as I mentioned above, the plot pales in comparison to the slash. What else can one say about an episode that features Holmes and Watson sharing a room, getting dressed together in the morning, later sharing a jail cell, and then fencing with one another? That is to say nothing for the ending, in which Holmes rushes across the room, grabs Watson’s arms, and then leans in, fully intending on…
Cut to black.
I swear; the kiss scene was cut. Bastards.
The Case of the Haunted Gainsborough
Oh; how delightfully amusing is The Case of the Haunted Gainsborough. Gainsborough, by the way, refers to a painting, and yes, it is indeed haunted. This fact is brought to Holmes’ attention by none other than Lestrade! Okay, he’s not really Lestrade. He’s Archie Duncan (the actor who plays Lestrade) dressed up to look like a Scotsman, and he wants Holmes and Watson to accompany him to Scotland, where he hopes they will catch a ghost, and so allow him to sell a family heirloom.
Needless to say, this episode is utterly fantastic. It is very reminiscent of The Musgrave Ritual, without actually borrowing elements from the original plot (i.e. the case is quite unique). There are some less desirable elements of the story, but overall it holds together exceptionally well. The ending is a little confusing, but even that is worth it to see the look on Holmes’ face when he is confronted by the plausibility that their midnight caller is, in fact, a ghost.
The Case of the Neurotic Detective
I must first confess; never before has an episode twisted my head in so many directions at once. The question of ‘is he, isn’t he?’ played in my mind throughout the half an hour. Although at times this did make for a confusion thirty minutes, overall the effect was quite desirable, the episode therefore quite good.
What I particularly liked about The Neurotic Detective was the role shift for Watson. Watson, thinking Holmes has lost his mind and turned to a life of crime (and I do confess, at one point I actually extrapolated an ‘evil twin brother’ theory, for which I am still hanging my head in shame) goes out of his way to steer Holmes towards getting help. This involves first proving that Holmes has indeed turned to a life of crime, and so we are treated to Watson stalking, investigating, and spying on Sherlock Holmes. Utterly delightful!
The episode receives bonus points, of course, for Watson’s tying of Holmes’ tie. A more fitting subtextually relevant scene we could not have asked for. It almost makes up for the sight of Holmes dancing with a woman (though, in his defence, he was ‘on a case’, so to speak).
The Case of the Unlucky Gambler
I should first tell the reader that I am not overly fond of children. Oh, I do not despise them, or anything so severe, but in my heart I feel they are not to be trusted. As Holmes is to women, I am to children. And so, you can well imagine my surprise when I found myself gushing over the adorableness of Holmes’ client, a small child. Truly, though, the boy was quite well-spoken, which perhaps excuses him from my usual reaction. In my mind, he eclipsed the whole of his species.
The episode itself is quite fascinating, Holmes and Watson searching for the boy’s missing father, a known gambler. While fairly standard in terms of plot, the episode is truly remarkable for it’s smaller, less significant (in terms of advancing the story) moments. For example, here we are treated to Holmes the boxer (interesting given that it was only a few episodes back that Watson appeared to be teaching Holmes the art –and here we suspect that Holmes merely wanted an excuse for Watson to touch him). Then there is the reference to Watson ‘having a bad look about him’, a comment which amused me greatly.
The finale, too, is quite touching, Holmes inventing a story and manipulating Scotland Yard in order to protect his client (the small boy) from discovering that his father is a no-good gambler willing to turn to robbery. Me thinks Holmes’ soft spot is showing.
The Case of the Diamond Tooth
I think I am still a little confused by this episode. The plot didn’t really seem to connect, instead wandering aimlessly, meandering between relevancy and obscurity; in fact, I can’t say it held together at all.
It’s not all bad. Watson’s reaction to having Scotland Yard request his help and not Holmes’ is simply delightful, as is Watson’s inability to work undercover. In fact, Watson is all around goofy in this episode, which at the very least does provide for some humorous distraction.
The final solution, too, is fairly unique, and does seem to pull at least a few of the earlier dropped threads back together. All things considered, though, The Diamond Tooth is merely a so-so case.
The Case of the Tyrant’s Daughter
Oh, how entirely proper is it that Watson should throw such a tizzy over the improper use of a teapot? Some people (aka, Holmes) have no respect when it comes to the time-honoured tradition of tea. Only two things should ever enter a tea pot; water, and tea. Poison indeed! I’m with you, Watson.
The final case in the series is a standard case, which, although good (and quite canon-esque) was almost disappointing in its normalcy. Some poor casting decisions were made (the daughter, Janet, comes to mind) but aside from that it was… okay. The ending left much to be desired (who commits suicide to frame their enemy? How exactly does one win in that situation? Where is the motive?) but no worse than most.
The episode’s bright spot was contained within the ending, Holmes poisoning himself by drinking from the dirty teapot. See, Holmes; you really should have listened to Watson. Overall, the episode didn’t feel like an ending, but perhaps that’s okay. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to. Perhaps I am simply expecting too much from a half an hour long, limited budget Sherlock Holmes series that is now seventy years old.
Despite being limited by half an hour, each episode still manages to tell a relatively engaging story. There are, naturally, hits and misses, but overall this series is worth watching. It does not, perhaps, earn five pipes (or even four for that matter), but it is certainly worthy of a strong three. Quirky and amusing, “Sherlock Holmes” should make everyone’s ‘must-watch’ list, if not for the comical 1950s take on Sherlock Holmes, then for the slash, which easily makes up for the series’ many failings.