The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio The great ones are back in action.

31Dec/102

21st Century Sherlock

What if Sherlock Holmes had been born in modern times? The BBC's series, "Sherlock" gives you a good idea of how the greatest detective of them all would be different.

I have to admit being apprehensive of the new series and not really sure I'd enjoy it. However, there's little chance that Benedict Cumberbatch will replace Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock definitely has some merit.

The idea of doing Sherlock Holmes in modern times is hardly a new one. The Rathbone-Bruce series for Universal did it fairly well. And sixty years later, what is old is new again.

Of course, moving Holmes into the 21st Century is fraught with perils. Done wrong and it becomes a fish out of water comedy. Overdo it and you risk losing sight of the character.

Thankfully, the producers avoiding doing this.  Cumberbatch's Holmes is a driven deductive genius. Martin Freeman is his able friend and companion, Dr. Watson, who is a British Veteran of the Afghanistan campaign.

Cumberbatch Holmes' more than anything else embodies the genius' sense of boredom in Holmes and the desire for intellectual challenge. Holmes expressed this in the Red Headed League, "My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence." 

This desire was expressed in the Holmes stories themelves in Holmes' drug use. Also, in the 1939 Fox Movie, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Moriarity preys on Holmes intellectual curiosity by giving him a fascinating crime to solve, so that Moriarity can commit a far larger crime.

Given that this Holmes is part of a particularly bored generation, his boredom is amped up to the nth degree in this portrayal. The effect is somewhat hyperactive and occassionally intense.

One of the highlights of Sherlock was its very effective use of modern video methods to highlights Holmes' deductions. When Holmes explains a complex deduction, the camera does a close-up on the physical clues Holmes observed to form his deductions, a kind of Sherlockovision that's quite appealing.

The pacing is exciting, albeit a tad too quick at times, but not when compared to other modern programs.

There are a couple bones to pick with Sherlock and the episode, "The Great Game."

The one thing really off to me about Holmes in this story is Holmes'  handling of the Bruce Partington Project (based on the Bruce Partington Plans story.) Mycroft comes to Holmes to ask him to find the missile plans and even though Holmes is incredibly bored, he refuses the commission and ignores Mycroft's repeated requests for help even when he has no other work pending. Apparenting, some sibling rivalry with a heavy-duty dose of angst has been added to the plot and Holmes is willing to risk British security over it.

Also in this episode, the portrayal of Professor Moriarty was done poorly.  We're left with no real clue as to the practical motivation for his crimes. Andrew Scott's performance of Moriarity was reminiscent of Heath Ledger's joker, although not nearly as well done.

Beyond this though, Sherlock is an intriguing take on the most famous detective of them all and I'll be eager to see the second series next Fall.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Parental Advisory: In terms of its content, it earns TV-14 rating with quite a bit of violence and some adult situations, as well as a handful of cursewords.

Sherlock Availability:

Sherlock is available as a DVD from Netflix also is available as either a digital download or a DVD from Amazon.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that items purchased from these links may result in a commission being paid to the author of this post.

31Dec/100

EP0310: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Queen Anne Pistols Matter

Edmond O'Brien

A pair of pistols is ensured for $15,000 with the policy terminating on delivery. The intended recipients refuse and that's when the case starts to get interesting.

Original Air Date: November 4, 1950

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30Dec/100

EP0309: Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Black Angus

Tom Conway

A son of a Scottish Lord breaks off his engagement and the jilted bride hires Holmes to find out the reason why. Holmes and Watson find themselves involved a mystery involving an ancient curse and rumors of werewolves.

Original Air Date: October 19, 1946

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29Dec/100

EP0308: Let George Do It: The Next to Last Guest

Bob Bailey

An elderly man hires George to see to the distribution of his securities to his three heirs goes off without a hitch. George finds out quickly that things aren't what they seem when one of the benficiaries commits suicide.

Original Air Date: June 20, 1949

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28Dec/100

EP0307: Nero Wolfe: The Careless Cleaner

Sidney Greenstreet

A beautiful cleaning woman is found murdered in the room of an aritst with his marriage on the rocks.

Original Air Date: November 17, 1950

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27Dec/100

EP0306: Thin Man: Adventure of the Passionate Palooka

Claudia Morgan

Nick and Nora are hired to help a boxer find his beloved missing dog and his girlfriend before the big fight.

Original Air Date: July 6, 1948

(Picture: Courtesy of Digital Deli.)

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24Dec/100

EP0305: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Joan Sebastian Matter

Edmond O'Brien

A young woman is found dead. Is it murder or suicide? Neither the police nor Johnny can tell for sure.

Original Air Date: October 28, 1950

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23Dec/100

Three Forgotten Radio Christmas Traditions

Television has its Christmas traditions. A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas survive through the wonder of reruns and videos.

The Golden Age of Radio also had its Christmas traditions, some things that for years were part of what Christmas was in America. Thankfully, through the power of MP3, we can step back in time and rediscover some of the best:

1) Christmas in Pine Ridge

The recurring Lum and Abner Christmas special in the 1930s was somewhat of an odd show. There wasn't any comedy to speak of. The plot centers around Lum, Abner, and Grandpappy Spears helping out a young couple that's gotten stranded in Pine Ridge, where the mother is giving birth. The family is clearly met to parallel the Holy family travelling to Bethlehem.

The episode's theme shows Pine Ridge at its best and in its fifteen minutes, it's poignant, thoughtful, and even philisophical as Lum reflects as well on the old year ending and the New Year coming.

Lum and Abner Christmas Special-December 25, 1940

2) Lionel Barrymore as Ebeneezer Scrooge

While most people living in the 21st century have no idea who Lionel Barrymore is. Mention, "Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life" and people will have no problem remembering the distinctive voice of the wheelchair bound adversary of Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey.

One key contributor in Barrymore playing Potter was that Barrymore had a lot of experience in the role of miser.  From 1934-53, he played the Role of Ebenezer Scrooge for 18 of 20 Christmases. He relinquished the role once to his brother John in 1935 and in 1938, Orson Welles took the part. However, in 1939, while Welles was still the boss at the Campbell Playhouse, Barrymore was Scrooge once again. This time in an hour long adaptation that showed off the amazing talent that was Lionel Barrymore with Welles' narration making the show a must-hear. Listen and you'll find out why, for an entire generation, Barrymore was definitive Scrooge.

Listen to The Campbell Playhouse: A Christmas Carol: December 24, 1939

1) Bing Crosby singing Adeste Fideles

If you say, Bing Crosby and Christmas, the first song that will undoubtedly come to mind is, White Christmas. However, this was not the song most common to Crosby Christmas Special. It was Adeste Fideles, which is commonly known as Oh Come All Ye Faithful.

Whether Bing Crosby was hosting the Kraft Music HallPhilco Radio Time, or the General Electric show, Adeste Fidelis would lead off. Crosby would first sing the song in Latin, and then everyone on stage and at home was invited to sing the song in English.

While less people understand the Latin version now than in Crosby's day, the performance is quite powerful and was simply a great way to begin another great Crosby Christmas.

December 20, 1953 episode of the General Electric show.

23Dec/100

EP0304: Sherlock Holmes: Adventure of the Stuttering Ghost

Tom Conway

A woman comes to Holmes with a "talking dog" for the purpose of robbing him of an old case file. Why?

Original Air Date: October 12, 1946

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22Dec/100

EP0303: Let George Do It: Follow that Train

It's Christmas and George gets a letter from a new client-a department store Santa Claus that wants him to solve the mystery of a missing electric train. But when Brooksie disappears, the case takes a more serious turn.

Original Air Date: December 19, 1949

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