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Sherlock Holmes (1954)
A classic favorite for the young at heart.
I must say that this enjoyable show is finally coming to light with recent releases on DVD. For those familiar with other portrayals of the pipe-smoking master detective, this series comes as something of a shock. The Holmes (Ronald Howard) in this one is young, fit, and very active. With a wry smile, he is as comfortable in a scuffle as he is with his violin. The Watson is not the bumbling fool of the films of the 40s, nor is he the Grenada persona, who is almost as intelligent as Holmes himself. He is a man who has common sense, an eye for the ladies, and never ceases to be amazed by Holmes.
This show does not have high quality direction, or guest actors, or even complex and intricate webs of intrigue. What it does have is the good guy winning, Holmes solving the case, and a wonderful scope of imagination. Those that let themselves figure out what is going early on can be pleased with their brilliance. I first saw this show on PBS when I was around the age of 9. Although there can be no doubt that Jeremy Brett is a master, I felt, and still do feel, that Howard's Holmes is a kinder, approachable, and altogether affable depiction. I don't watch this show for intellectual stimulation. It's a comfortable blanket to wrap up and enjoy oneself for a half an hour.
The Viking Queen (1967)
There's a way to make this movie better...
The Viking Queen is not an epic about the history of Romans in England. It is not a movie about romance (although there's a half-hearted attempt at it). This isn't, as the cover claims, a movie of action. Sit back, relax, and let your mind switch off. That's how to enjoy this film. In the inimitable style that brought us other pseudo-historical films, Hammer has ensured that our time and money is not wasted. It's certainly worth the wait to see the bladed chariot of death. Please don't try to praise this film, or even attempt to call it a classic. It's a joyful romp through the English countryside with an attractive blond, a wicked high priest, and a Machavellian second-in-command. Enjoy!
The New Avengers (1976)
An attempt at an apology...
This is an apology for all the cursing and bad-mouthing that I had done before having actually seen this show. For those who have not watched the New Avengers, you may feel the same way. How can there be Avengers without Emma Peel? I went in with a skeptical mind, and came out feeling ashamed. There is nothing wrong with these episodes (I should say that I have not seen them all) that is as bad as what has been said about them.
Certainly, it will be said that I am an American, and that I would never see any harm in fist-fights and coarse manners. I enjoy every episode of the refinement that the 1960's Steed brought to the show. I feel that the New Avengers is not about reviving the prior series, but about giving it some new direction. Not many will agree that the two series have much in common, but what is there is done well. Patrick Macnee is still there, but he is seen as more of a fatherly figure than that of a partner. The rest of the cast is superb, though there are several serious gaffs.
If you are an Avengers fan expecting to find Emma Peel in her leather outfit toasting champaign with a brolley toting Steed, you won't be satisfied by this show. If you do have the time, and are willing to be unbiased in your opinion, please try this one out. It surprised me, and I feel as thought it may surprise you too.
Hammer House of Horror (1980)
Cinematic jewels for the small screen...
Could you believe that after so long, the Hammer Company could come back and release a show that had as much quality content as the original Twilight Zone? For those who have not seen this, the closest that I can come to describing this gems is to compare to the 1 hour episodes that Rod Serling put out. Even that doesn't do them justice.
There are thirteen episodes in all. The cover lists Peter Cushing, Denholm Eliot, and Pierce Brosnan, but there are stand-out performances by many more in each episode. Jon Finch (Hitchcock's Frenzy) starts off as director editing his film at home when a fierce storm draws near... From the first minute of the first episode, it is apparent that this series was something special. Good direction, tight casting, and fast paced stories are the norm. This is not to say that all will interest, and some have common themes to other episodes, but all are enjoyable. Picture a standard film, and cut out a half an hour of the excess, and you've got these.
Certainly worth the investment, these episodes can be collected in one box set, which is quite well done by A+E. Werewolves, demons, witches, voodoo dolls, and for good measure a demented Nazi can all be found within. Horror fans, and those who miss good television, should take a look at Hammer. I assure you, you will not be disappointed.