|Index||2 reviews in total|
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. The production budget for this series was laughably low; walls and furniture are clearly flimsy sets, and the actors are obviously taking care not to break anything. When a door opens, the doorframe wobbles. Karloff's splendid professionalism and innate dignity do much to offset this problem.
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 detective. On the other hand, watching Peter Falk in episodes of 'Columbo' in the 1970s, I find a similar circumstance very implausible. Falk is a brilliant actor, but he clearly has a prosthetic eye ... and I can't believe that the Los Angeles police force in the 1970s would retain a one-eyed detective. In '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 within 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 performance 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.
A few years ago I acquired 20 episodes of the series from an online
seller. I was mildly impressed at first. I though the series was well
done. Karloff's character, Colonel March, was well defined, and the
stories were generally pleasing. However, over the years I have come to
really love this modest little series.
The many reviews I've read on the series usually fluff it off as a low budget British TV series. That is most unkind. The productions values are very standard for the time. The mystery elements are not the draw of the series. Rather, it is Karloff's wonderful performance, mixed with the quirky elements of the stories. Karloff's Colonel March is an intelligent, slightly egoistical maverick. He works for Scotland Yard in the aptly named Department of Queer Complaints. Yet March is basically an acknowledged genius who works on his own and he has no supervisor. The toughest, most bizarre and whimsical cases are all thrown in March's lap.
My favourite episodes include; 1. The Abominable Snowman, where the snowy legend threatens members of March's own mountain climbing group. 2. Death and the Other Monkey, where March probes the murder of a scientist on the verge of a breakthrough. 3. The Sorcerer, March investigates the murder of a psychologist.
If you watch an episode and it doesn't impress you, try another. The series might grow on you, like it did with me.
|Ratings||External reviews||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|