When Victor and his family move into his grand-uncle's mysterious - and seemingly haunted - mansion, the young boy detective makes it his mission to solve the case of a girl who died there forty years earlier.
A teenage girl named Shirley who, with her 'side kick' Bo, (think Sherlock Holmes and Watson) are always in the middle of a new crime that needs solving, and who better to do it than the legendary Sherlock Holmes grand-niece Shirley? Written by
The name of Shirley Holmes' nemesis, Molly Hardy, is a play on the name of her great-grand-uncle Sherlock Holmes' arch-enemy: Professor Moriarty. See more »
[first lines over opening credits]
[Shirley reads a message she found hidden in a family heirloom]
Voice of Sherlock Holmes:
To the holder of this letter, my commendations. Solving the puzzle of the chest required more than considerable deductive powers. My work has consumed my life and I have produced no heir to follow in my path, but I picture you a young man of good imagination. Any mystery devised by mortal minds can be solved therewith. Yours faithfully, Sherlock Holmes.
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Standing the Test of Time...The Last Great Adolescents' Show...?
I caught a few episodes of The Adventures of Shirley Holmes while it was running again on YTV in the spring of '08. As well, during that same period, I found an old videotape I had made of various episodes during a much earlier syndication run (circa 2000). Watching this show again for the first time in several years, I suddenly realised just how damn good it was. I mean, I knew it was good from the minute I accidentally caught an episode on YTV one boring evening over a decade ago, when I was in my mid to late 20s; I just never realised before HOW good this show actually was. Now that enough time has passed, one can objectively analyse it; and from my perspective, this show has definitely stood the test of time—being not only the best adolescents'/family show of the past fifteen years, but also one of the best television shows in general. The writing was excellent, the acting was excellent, the directing was excellent, the characters were genuine and endearing, etc. Given its complex plots, eccentric characters and dark humour, this show was like 'David Lynch for the Young and Smart'—check out the 'Second Take' episode and tell me it's not reminiscent of Lost Highway.
In the late '90s, Canadian philosopher Mark Kingwell was going on and on about how good Buffy the Vampire Slayer was. I thought that show was a load of overrated foolishness, featuring genuinely unlikeable dimwit actors. Why he would overlook this youth-oriented show in favour of Buffy remains a mystery to me. This show transcends the 'adolescents' show' category far more easily than the other does; it's far more adult-compatible, given the complexity of much of the writing. (I've considered contacting Kingwell and challenging his view.)
The official reason behind Shirley Holmes's cancellation was the aging of the actors. Supposedly, the tone of the show would have had to change if the characters had aged along with their actors—in other words, they were scared of dealing with sexual themes. If true, I think this is a cop-out: the characters were almost all intellectuals—romance was of lesser importance to them. Furthermore, intimacy had already been dealt with to some extent on the show: Shirley's summer romance; Bo's fling with an Asian schoolgirl; Alicia's much older, fraudulent boyfriend; Molly's sleek, darkly sexual, 'evil feline' persona, etc.
Frankly, I think the real reason behind this show's cancellation was an issue of demographics: In an era when standards were being lowered and young people were being raised and schooled to be increasingly ignorant and uncultured, there was simply no viable youth audience left to watch this series. Low-culture crap like The Spice Girls, Brittney Spears, Eminem, 'reality' shows, and commercial hip-hop had been elevated to a position of influential dominance by the late 1990s, and the effects were detrimental. I remember attending a party in 1999 or 2000, where there were numerous young people in their early teens to early thirties. The subject of Shirley Holmes came up amongst two or three of us, and so I asked for a show of hands: There was not one person there under 20 who had actually watched a single episode of the show! So I've come to the conclusion that Shirley Holmes was too intelligent and complex for most of the children and teenagers of the day, and was watched primarily by people in their twenties and older in the first place. When the producers and number-crunchers at YTV and Nickleodeon realised this, they probably decided to drop it in favour of producing/promoting more simple-minded junk of the comic variety (e.g., Radio Active) to suit the less-sophisticated youth demographics of the period.
Anyway, it was great to see that YTV had the good taste to run this show again, even if it was only for a few weeks. I hope more people, young and old, have come to appreciate it for its quality.
The Four Seasons/Series, Ranked in Terms of Essential Viewing:
Season/Series 3 (1998-99) —essential episodes (in order of original broadcast): The Case of the Crooked Comic, The Case of the Mysterious Message, The Case of the Second Take, The Case of the Code of Silence, The Case of the Real Fake, The Case of the Miraculous Mine, The Case of the Forbidden Mountain
Season/Series 1 (1996-97) —essential episodes (in order of original broadcast): The Case of the Burning Building, The Case of the Ruby Ring, The Case of the Maestro's Ghost, The Case of the King of Hearts, The Case of the Second Sight
Season/Series 4 (1999-00) —essential episodes (in order of original broadcast): The Case of the Calculated Crime, The Case of the Virtual Zeus, The Case of the Hidden Heart, The Case of the Dragon's Breath
Season/Series 2 (1997-98) —essential episodes (in order of original broadcast): The Case of the Golden Cave, The Case of the Exploding Puppet, The Case of the Broken Oath
Notes on Ranking. Season 3 ranks highest because it has the most (five) Molly Hardy episodes (generally the best ones), as well as Shirley's reunion with her mother and other well-written plots. Deciding whether Season 1 or 4 should be the runner-up was a difficult call. Both had an equal number of 'Molly Hardy-heavy' episodes, but the non-Molly episodes of Season 1 were generally better written and more interesting, and thus its ranking at second place. Season 2 ranks last due to lack of emphasis on Molly (she is crucial to the plot of only two episodes, and appears in only two others), as well as its having the least believable and often hokiest of the episodes.
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