Sherlock Holmes (TV Series 1954–1955) Poster

(1954–1955)

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Thoroughly enjoyable
Ruth Voboril23 May 2005
I'd never heard of this series, or even Ronald Howard, for that matter, until perchance I picked up a four-episode DVD in a dollar store. Now I'm completely hooked, and I must have *every* episode.

Ronald Howard is simply captivating here, and clearly enjoys his role. Just as another reviewer said, he makes the viewer believe he really *is* Sherlock Holmes.

Howard Marion-Crawford is splendid as Dr. Watson, as is Archie Duncan as the inept Instpector Lastrade. The series favors many guests over and over in various guest spots; some are good, though many are, well, pretty bad.

It is Mr. Howard that really makes the series. Wouldn't he be thrilled to know that fifty years after the show aired, and nearly 10 years after his passing, that there are a few of us enjoying this charming piece of work.

Here's to you, Mr. Howard. You were nothing short of wonderful.
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A classic favorite for the young at heart.
boom-1025 March 2003
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.
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An Enjoyable Light Portrayal of the Familiar Characters
Snow Leopard1 February 2006
Although there are a great many television and movie adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes characters and stories, most of them are well worth seeing, and many have their own particular approach to the material. This television series lasted only one season, but it has still shown up from time to time on late-night broadcasts and the like, and the whole series is now available on DVD. The half-hour episodes always furnished entertaining short mystery stories with an enjoyable light portrayal of the familiar characters.

As Holmes, Ronald Howard's upbeat, jaunty approach is noticeably different from the styles of Jeremy Brett, Basil Rathbone, and most others who have played the character. But Howard's characterization is well-suited for a fast-paced half-hour format. As Watson, H. Marion Crawford is believable and likable as the stolid, loyal straight man, and as Inspector Lestrade, Archie Duncan is amusingly befuddled.

The plots in a few of the episodes are based on original Arthur Conan Doyle stories, though sometimes with noticeable modifications. The majority, though, are new stories written to fit into the show's own format. Most of the time these fit neatly into the Victorian setting and the Holmes atmosphere, though at other times they seem a slightly odd match for the setting and characters. But every one of the episodes was entertaining and worth seeing, and that's not a bad accomplishment.
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Very good!
moriarty199316 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Sherlock Holmes is a very good TV series for two reasons:Ronald Howard and H.Maron Crawford.Ronald Howard is quite far the second best Holmes of the screen(next to Basil Rathbone,of course) but this show's Watson goes un-rivaled.Not a bungler like Nigel Bruce or a completely boring and pointless character like Ian Flemming.Rather,a very interesting character with a lot of personality.Howard's Holmes reminded me more A.Conan Doyle's character of the sixty published cases than anyone else.These scripts provide both suspense and humor,something that uaually doesn't work.My favorite episode of all time was probably "The Pennsilvania gun.It was the perfect Sherlock Holmes episode.Overall,this show is a superb representation Holmes and MUST NOT BE MISSED.
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I Laughed, I Loved
Anna McNarin18 November 2005
Howard is a believable Holmes, he carries off an almost absentminded humour in his portrayal of Sherlock. He is second in my book only to Jeremy Brett (except Howard has better hair, rather curly, which I found attractive).

The writing and dialogue was well done and charming. Howard and Crawford play off each other beautifully, and obviously enjoy their roles.

Some of the camera angles in this show are awful, but only add to the comedy (at least to me). It seemed a little too obvious at times that some actors were shot independently of the rest of the scene, and jumped places.

In short I laughed a lot at it all, and loved every minute of it. If you haven't, go buy this show.
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Easy Mysteries, but good acting
Buffy Summers29 December 2004
Indeed, Ronald Howard plays a great Holmes, and the portrayal of Lestrade is just Hilarious. Crawford plays one of the best Watsons I have seen yet, and the series overall, despite the simplicity of many mysteries, and the lack of any-but 1- original A.Conan Doyle mystery in the series, is fantastic. Holmes is portrayed many a times after this series with many different actors, and none of them quite amount to Howard's job done with the character. He's very believable, and there's an obvious enjoyment in his knowledge, but nothing to the degree of rubbing it in other's faces, or flaunting it. He's very personable, and a bit quirky at times. He really makes you believe he /is/ Sherlock Holmes. The fact that this series is in black and white makes it even more enjoyable in my personal opinion. To be able to watch a classic like that for me is just terrific, considering I wasn't alive during that time. The director and cast had to have done something right if my nine year old brother, who hates black and white films, and was originally set dead against watching it, was interested by the time "The Case of Harry Crocker" was finished. I currently own volume one and two on DVD from Digiview, but I highly recommend buying the 10 disc set from Amazon. There's a few episodes not in the set, but it's definitely worth it. ASIN: B0001Z3TS4
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9/10
A marvellous find
Pete Garbett31 July 2007
I found a boxed set of 25 of these films on 5 discs in The Works, the British remaindered books outlet, a year ago. (I don't think you have remaindered books in the USA - they're pulped, due to different laws.) The DVD set was produced by a Dutch firm, and not re-mastered - but the films are in quite good condition. They were made first in the year of my birth, 1954, so I did some research to find out why I had never seen them. I had seen episodes from every other British TV Holmes series, and heard, through archive material, episodes from every British and American radio series.

All became clear: they were never shown in Britain! Even though most of the actors were British, with a handful of Americans and French - the series was shot in France - the series was made by an American producer for US TV.

Most stories are good, some are excellent, some are terrible, and some are from the canon, with altered titles for some unfathomable reason (The Engineer's Thumb becomes The Shoeless Engineer, The Greek Interpreter becomes The French Interpreter).

Nine marks instead of ten because of the three or four awful ones - a Red Indian sets up his wigwam inside 221B Baker Street in one of them! I'm glad I walked into that shop. I might never have known about this series otherwise! Enjoy.
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Excellent series
Arsen Dalavaccio7 January 2006
If you are not so interested in the mysteries, but rather Holmes himself, you will not be disappointed in this series. Whatever it may lack in directing, staging or filming, Ronald Howard makes up for it (Especially when many of the episodes can be found very cheaply.) While it does deviate from Doyle's original stories in fact, it does not deviate in spirit.

There are some moments in which characters such as Dr. Watson and Lestrade are given center stage while Holmes is put to the side, which might disappoint some viewers. Dr. Watson, who is closer to the everyman than Holmes, seems to be the center of attention quite a bit more than some might like. While these might detract from the few episodes which are like this, they do not affect the series as a whole.

Even if it does not become the favorite of any Holmes collector who chances to pick it up, it will at least become an admirable addition to any DVD or memorabilia stronghold.
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Ronald Howard aka Sherlock Holmes
Blulite14 December 2005
I bought this set of 20 episodes 5 years ago in Houston Texas, USA, we are in the process of a move and this set had never been opened, so I slit open the box and began watching this set to see if it was worth keeping or giving away so there is less to pack. WAS I EVER ASTONISHED, not only does Howard sound and somewhat look like his Dad, Leslie Howard, but his version of Holmes is a delight to view, for a 30 minute show this is very nice and a delight to watch with pleasure on a cold and blustery night with a warm mug of chocolate. It also has bookend video extras with a bio comment by Christopher Lee. A special treat and a joy to own, would really like the extra 19 episodes if they can be found.
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Former Die-Hard Rathbone Fan Now Converted :-)
Michael Stevens30 July 2005
In a nutshell, I grew up with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, yet I do recall seeing the Ronald Howard episodes on TV in the late 50's. Only after I picked up a dollar DVD at Walmart featuring Ronald Howard did I realize what a totally charming performance he gave as the super-sleuth. H. Marion Crawford is equally charming as Dr. Watson, and the pair interact and play off each other in a manner much different than the Rathbone/Bruce pairing. Howard portrays Sherlock as a much more human and compassionate character and is a joy to watch. There are many nuances in his words and actions which one does not immediately observe on the first viewing which help enhance his portrayal. If you are a Sherlock fan, you must sample this delightful series. Kudos also for photography and editing, at least in the limited number of chapters I have been able to view thus far. As some have mentioned, the plot lines are somewhat shallow-- you will watch these less for the intrigue of the mystery and more for Howard's acting and the wonderful chemistry between Howard and Crawford.
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7/10
a surprisingly likable and effective Holmes and Watson
didi-511 May 2007
This series is a real find. First I spotted some episodes on Bonanza, and now have obtained the entire 39 episode series on DVD.

Although my ideal Sherlock Holmes has to be Jeremy Brett in the long-running Granada TV series, this version with Ronald Howard and H Marion-Crawford is very good indeed. The level of repartee between the two is excellent and, although the writing and acting could be a little wooden at times, the short duration of episodes means the story moves along at a good pace, sometimes using a Conan Doyle tale as its base, sometimes not.

Of course there were poor episodes but these were far outweighed by the superior ones. The series does show its age in the quality of prints available, but all episodes are more or less complete and are mostly free of jitter or hiss on the soundtrack.

Now halfway through the episodes, I am looking forward to seeing the whole series and would recommend this series to all Sherlockians without hesitation.
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9/10
Why Just One Season?
While Sherlockians and other Baker Street Irregulars might balk at the liberties taken, this "Sherlock Holmes" series is quite enjoyable, a perfect companion on cold rainy weekends. Ronald Howard is quite affable as the sleuthing tenant of 221B Baker Street, while H. Marion Crawford plays Dr. Watson as nature (read Conan Doyle) intended. The fact that this series was filmed in Paris is suggested in several ways: London Bobbies silently salute Inspector Lestrade, indicating that they were probably portrayed by Frenchmen, Conan Doyle's "The Greek Interpreter" is transformed into "The French Interpreter", and of course there's the inevitable "As long as we're in Paris, we might as well have a story taking place at the Eiffle Tower" episode. One can only imagine what the series would have been like had it been filmed in Rome with Cinecitta at their command. The theme music, more or less a variation on "Gone With the Wind" is interesting, but even more superb in a one-off episode played on a Roger Williams-style piano. Incidentally, the company credited with sound equipment, Poste-Parisien, was a leading commercial radio station in France before the French government declared a broadcasting monopoly after World War II. To sum up, and to paraphrase some other former Baker Street tenants (as in The Apple Boutique) "a splendid time is guaranteed for all!"
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A good way to spend a Sunday evening...
deliverator7310 March 2004
Sherlock Holmes has been DONE. Therefore, I am picky about what I watch in this genre. While I agree that the mysteries are pretty easy to solve in this particular series from the 1950s, I think that Ronald Howard and H. Marion Crawford acquit themselves fairly well considering that they had to follow the Rathbone-Bruce 'Sherlock Holmes' movies. There is also a bit of dry humor to this series that I liked--even as a teen-- that isn't always present in other versions.

I'd call the series "Sherlock Holmes for Beginners." You can start with this one, then work your way to the Rathbone-Bruce ones and then the Jeremy Brett-Edward Hardwicke ones and take a detour to "young Sherlock Holmes" and if you have the stomach, you can move to the 2002 version of "Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Hound of the Baskervilles.'"
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6/10
Good show.
Daniel Richardson20 March 2008
This is actually the first screen version of Sherlock Holmes that I saw and it's really one of the best. I think that Ronald Howard makes a great Holmes, second to only Basil Rathbone. I have only seen six episodes, they were all good. Yes even "The Case of the Texas Cowgirl". That's one you can't really take seriously. My favorite so far is "The Case of Harry Crocker". It's pretty funny. The mysteries aren't complex or anything, but the stories are good and at time humorous. Like I said, this was the Holmes that started it all for me. I intend to buy the complete series box set. So if your a fan of mystery or Sherlock Holmes than this is a show for you. Just remember to go easy on the Cowgirl episode.
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6/10
Good show to wrap your brain around
Jason Lewin10 April 2011
(as seen on the Americna Pop Classics page on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/the-adventures-of-sherlock-holmes)

As I have a couple Sherlock Holmes books on my kindle, and enjoyed the recent movie, I decided to watch a few of these episodes. The most important thing to the Sherlock story (at least to me) is the chemistry between Sherlock (Ronald Howard) and Dr. Watson (Howard Marion-Crawford). The two in this show deliver in that department. After watching a few episodes, I can say that I'll be watching the rest, and it's a good time way to spend time. While not the best show out there, and shorter than reading a Sherlock story, it's a good, easy way for fans of the character to get their fix.
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Not the greatest Holmes - but definitely enjoyable
eyeresist1 March 2006
In the face of so much praise for this series, I must deliver a more mixed verdict on Howard's Holmes.

Howard is likable, and not a bad light actor, but I think he isn't quite right for this role. He doesn't really convince as a razor-minded thinker or an obsessive observer. Perhaps the producers wanted a more conventional "Boy's Own" hero, which role Howard fills well - giving a performance of wide-eyed enthusiasm and derring-do. Unfortunately, he also has to perform some rather weak comedy. I was particularly annoyed by "The Split Ticket", in which Holmes embarrasses himself by failing at pickpocketing and at a card trick. Even apart from Holmes's legendary perfectionism, it hardly makes sense for a detective show to suggest that its hero is incompetent.

The other actors in the show are good. The Watson was less stupid but crustier than Nigel Bruce's version. Archie Duncan inhabits the role of LeStrade. But where is Mrs Hudson?

The sets are detailed and well done, and a convincing period atmosphere is established on (what I assume was) a low budget. The show was thankfully shot on film, so it still looks nice, if a bit soft and rather worn.

After saying all the above negative things, I might appear to contradict myself by saying that it's actually a very enjoyable show! I think this has something to do with the short length of the episodes (under 30 minutes), which means that the stories have to very quickly get to the point. In this limited time-frame, nothing actually seems rushed (although obviously there is a lack of detail to the plots), which indicates the presence of some capable script-writing.

Add to this some likable actors and a charming period feel, and you have a genuine "feel good" experience for Sherlockians and mystery lovers.

(I'll just add that I'm lucky enough to have a set of 30 (of 36) episodes on 4 DVDs, released in Australia by www.payless.com.au, if you're interested. I will add the episode titles to this site at a later date.)
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A fine old relic of early television
edalweber27 September 2011
I remember seeing this series on local television in New Orleans in 1955 when I was seven years old.It was one of my favorites then, but I haven't seen it since. I just finished looking at it on IMDb.I am glad to see that it still holds up pretty well.Too bad that there aren't more episodes.

One thing that no one has mentioned is that this is one of the few interpretations of Holmes that show the stereotypical Holmes. Most of them avoid the "traditional" image, like they are ashamed of it. But here it is played to the hilt. Deerstalker hat, caped coat, pipe, the works. Just like you always see in cartoon versions of Holmes.One of the Basil Rathbone movies shows Holmes reaching for his deerstalker hat, and Watson says something like"Oh really Holmes, not THAT!", and Rathbone takes another hat. But this series GLORIES in the stereotypes,with splendid results.The sets are pretty good, and 221B Baker street looks just like you expect it to be. The street is obviously a studio street,just like in 40's movies, but convincing.The Victorian atmosphere is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Howard, Crawford and Duncan are all excellent in their roles, and it is a pity that they didn't do any Holmes movies. The plots are simple and easy because of the half hour format,but you can't have everything.I think that the black and white filming definitely helps.20 or 30 years later Sheldon Reynolds did another Holmes series, with British actors filmed in POLAND! It was TERRIBLE!

By the way, my earliest exposure to the Holmes stories on TV was a few years earlier, a children's version in which the characters were played by chimpanzees!
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8/10
Enjoyable
silvanski16 January 2011
I discovered this vintage Sherlock Holmes series via a few episodes available on the Internet Archive, and they got me hooked right away.

Although the episodes are only 30 minute quickies and some of the plot lines are rather shaky, Ronald Howard and H. Marion Crawford got the chemistry between Holmes and Watson working quite brilliantly.

I'd say this makes for excellent no-nonsense entertainment before going to sleep instead of picking up a book or magazine.

See if you can get the low priced boxed set by Millcreek, which besides all 39 TV episodes also includes 8 feature length films with Basil Rathborne, Arthur Wontner and Reginald Owen as the master detective. Picture and audio quality are not top notch but for the low price tag it's well worth buying.
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8/10
Enjoyable enough, without being definitive
TheLittleSongbird16 December 2010
I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, and had never heard of this series until recently. I saw the first episode, and was really quite impressed so I kept on watching. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a very enjoyable series that has a lot to like about it. I do agree that some of the writing in some episodes sounds as though it was written in haste, and the guest stars are also variable either being pretty good or just okay.

However, although it mayn't be technically polished, the series does have some charming enough production values. The sets and costumes are pleasing, and the photography is good enough for what it is. When the writing is good and not written in haste, it is actually quite good, while the stories are always well-constructed and fun and the theme music is a fine touch. The direction is good, and the pacing is brisk. The acting from the leads is excellent. Ronald Howard is a very interesting Holmes, and I also really enjoyed with what he did with the role, making Holmes charismatic and intelligent as he should be. One may say he lacks the grit of Jeremy Brett, the sophistication of Basil Rathbone and the sly sardonic approach of Ian Richardson, Howard as I've said was thoroughly enjoyable. He also has great chemistry with Howard Marion-Crawford who is terrific as a quite controlled yet still entertaining Watson. And I loved Archie Duncan, who never fails to bring a smile to my face as the increasingly inept Lestrade.

So all in all, I enjoy this series. It is not the best mind you but I wasn't expecting that. I was looking forward to a fun series, and I got exactly that. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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5/10
historically just a beginning...
winner559 November 2008
Although the production values are very cheap, the real problem with this series is the writing. Some episodes are very strong, to be sure, with careful attention to their source material, the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. But there are far too many stories that were so hastily written, it feels as though the cast has been stuck improvising for ten or so minutes at a time. Which also indicates a lack of real direction.

Nonetheless, the cast is always making the effort, and seems to be enjoying themselves doing so. Even at the worst moments of the worst scripts they remain in good humor.

One reviewer described the series as "Holmes for beginners." That has it about right. If you can get through the worst episodes, the best episodes will hook you on the great fascination that is Sherlock Holmes.
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Kinda Easy Mysteries
The Peacemaker20 May 2000
Though Ronald Howard is a great Holmes, the mysteries are fairly simple to solve. You don't have to concentrate to solve it before Holmes. They were produced in France, with an all American cast. Ronnie was the son of Leslie Howard, "Gone With The Wind". Something hilarious to note is that Archie Duncan not only played Lestrade, but VARIOUS characters! Once he played a Scotsman-and I swear, his accent is so good, you can't tell it's him!
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6/10
Innocent pleasure
keith-moyes1 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This short-lived TV series is a fairly lightweight interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, but is well worth a view. I am glad it has been rescued from oblivion and made available on DVD for a new generation of viewers to enjoy.

Ronald Howard, H Marion Crawford and Archie Duncan are by no means the definitive Holmes, Watson and Lestrade but they make a good team in their own right. Watching them go through their paces, I found it was easy to temporarily forget other, more substantial, interpretations of these characters.

The series was shot on film and the production values are pretty good for a cheaply-made TV series of the mid-Fifties. Each episode is limited to a handful of sets, but the standing set of Baker Street is widely used and there is enough location shooting to prevent the shows becoming too claustrophobic. Shooting in France probably stretched the budget further than would have been possible in America, or even England.

Each episode is only 25 minutes, so don't expect complex plots or baffling mysteries. We do get some good deduction from time to time, but on other occasions Holmes leaps to conclusions by something not far short of clairvoyance. Of course, the stories vary in quality, with a couple veering perilously close to farce (the cowgirl and suffragette stories being the most overtly comic) but most are very enjoyable. I tended to watch two or three episodes at a time and I was never bored.

However, I must sound two warnings.

Firstly, the source prints are very ragged: clearly they have all been through the projector far too often. They are watchable, but would benefit from extensive restoration. Since these shows are far from being classics it is unlikely this will ever happen.

Secondly, while it is understandable that a company releasing budget price DVDs will use whatever prints they can get their hands on (and these might be the only ones that have survived), there can be no excuse for the wretched DVD transfer.

Digital recording is inherently inferior to analogue recording, so DVDs are inherently inferior to videos (until they start to deteriorate - which happens quite quickly). I have found that even major companies producing full price DVDs often use inadequate compression software that cannot handle subtle movement (e.g. close-ups of faces). This becomes particularly obtrusive when recording old films, where worn sprocket holes cause a slight shaking of the image that completely confounds many digital recording systems.

Having said that, the DVD transfer here is not just poor; it is probably the worst I have ever seen. Movement is often very jerky and there is highly distracting flickering and wavering throughout, with whole areas of the screen appearing to move independently of each other.

Some episodes seem worse than others (I have no idea why) but even the best of them are dismal. You can buy bargain-basement DVD recorders that give better results than this.

Nonetheless, if you can ignore the poor prints and atrocious transfer and just watch the shows, there is much innocent pleasure to be had.
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8/10
It's a series, with many different plots, none of which I'm revealing
While the much more innocent children of 1954-55 (when I was 9 and 10) might have needed a warning that there were conversations about death, and occasional scenes with actors playing their roles (freshly) dead, there are no scenes that would upset a modern child of 9 or 10. Indeed some modern kids might think the whole thing a bit boring, especially as it's in black-and-white, with no computer-generated graphics or bells and whistles, which either didn't exist back then or were just in the thinking-up stage, kids who like old films (there must be some SOME out there!) might enjoy it, as there's some understated wit and humour, not something all Sherlock Holmes films go in for. My pleasure in this series is of course mainly nostalgia, for a time when I was an innocent child living happily with my mum and dad, with living aunts (5) and uncles (4) and innumerable cousins, all living close-by and very loving to me as I was the youngest of my own generation, and was bright and lively, with a strong imagination. Of course I enjoy it all over again, and probably always will.
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A Pleasant Surprise Every Bit as Enjoyable as Rathbone
ca_palumbo14 December 2005
Until I saw this I always thought Basil Rathbone was the only actor that brought the correct intensity to this role (Jeremy Brett's pompous interpretation was putrid in its faithlessness to the original), but Ronald Howard's Sherlock Holmes is superb, even if the writers tampered with the character's quirks a bit (the original Homes was never absent-minded, and Watson, for that matter, was never as observant as this series would seem to indicate). I have to agree with another reviewer that I now want a copy of every episode, so enjoyable it was to see the two I have been lucky enough to view. I say this not only as a Rathbone fan but as a devotee who has read Conan Doyle's COMPLETE SHERLOCK HOLMES, all 56 short stories and four novels, at least a dozen times (and some stories at least twice that). Highly recommended for true fans of this dynamic duo.
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9/10
Excellent Holmes.
Zapple10020 March 2014
My friend gave me the DVD set as a birthday gift. I never heard of Ronald Howard before this. I was always a Basil Rathbone fan.

I'm really enjoying Ronald Howard as Holmes. Holmes is the one that goes off the path and Dr. Watson has to bring him back.

While the Basile Rathbone are more modern. The Ronald Howard takes you back to the horse and buggy times.

This is more in line with the original books.

These episodes are like potato chips, I can watch five in a row with no problem.

This is one of the best gifts I ever got. Thanks Robin.
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