33 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
Mind the doorframe, Boris
F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales
10 January 2004
John Dickson Carr was a mystery author who specialised in locked-room
whodunnits and other 'impossible' crimes: murder mysteries that seemed to
defy possibility. Under the pen-name Carter Dickson, he published a
of tales called 'The Department of Queer Complaints', in which a master
criminologist is called upon to solve 'X-Files'-type murders.
'Colonel March of Scotland Yard' was a syndicated series, starring Boris
Karloff in episodes based on Dickson Carr's 'Queer Complaints' stories.
production budget for this series was laughably low; walls and furniture
clearly flimsy sets, and the actors are obviously taking care not to
anything. When a door opens, the doorframe wobbles. Karloff's splendid
professionalism and innate dignity do much to offset this
As the tweedy Colonel March, Karloff wore a patch over his left eye,
although the scripts never explained how March lost this eye. I found it
plausible that Scotland Yard in the 1950s might retain a one-eyed
On the other hand, watching Peter Falk in episodes of 'Columbo' in the
1970s, I find a similar circumstance very implausible. Falk is a
actor, but he clearly has a prosthetic eye ... and I can't believe that
Los Angeles police force in the 1970s would retain a one-eyed detective.
'Colonel March', the eyepatch obscuring Karloff's vision causes him just
occasionally to bump into one of the wobbly sets.
It's no surprise that each episode of 'Colonel March' ends with Karloff
tidily solving the mystery. Unfortunately, in some cases the explanation
verged on the supernatural. This violates the spirit of the 'impossible'
crime, in which the solution (however implausible) must still remain
the laws of scientific possibility.
Karloff was ably abetted by Ewan Roberts, and by veteran character actor
Richard Wattis ... who wore hornrimmed glasses here, and gave a
less effeminate than usual for him. For all its many flaws and its very
dated appearance, 'Colonel March' remains enjoyable for mystery fans in
general and fans of Boris Karloff in particular.
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