As a kid, I loved to read. It was something my grandmother helped to encourage and nurture by buying me all sorts of books. I had all the classics, but my favorite was a dog-eared copy of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. One year we took a family vacation to Disney World and stayed at a hotel called the Grosvenor, which by sheer coincidence had a Sherlock themed restaurant called Baskervilles, and a pub called Moriarity's. I took a copy of the menu, a newspaper called the Baker Street Times, home and added it to my growing collection which today includes books, videos, dvd's, comics and a number of tapes of the radio shows from the 40's.
I discovered this series around that same time, it was airing on a local UHF station on Sunday nights. What struck me immediately was how Ronald Howard played the character with a youthful exuberance I hadn't seen in previous portrayals. Here was a detective who enjoyed his work, relished each new mystery that was laid out before him and attacked it with a vibrant energy. It was refreshing, different, but not so far from Doyle's creation that it was unrecognizable. H. Marion Crawford played the role of Watson quite well, and was a bit reminiscent of Nigel Bruce's buffoonish characterization. Best of all though was the chemistry of the two actors, and the way they played with the subtle humor found in the scripts.
The production value was very good too. Filmed for American television and shot in France, some episodes make excellent, if rare, use of outdoor locations. Costumes, sets and acting are top notch for a series filmed in the 1950's. While a few episodes are adaptations of the original short stories (The Redheaded League), other's take inspiration form incidents in the books to give us something new and original (The Laughing Mummy). The episodes do tend to wrap things up quickly without delving too deeply into Holmes' detective skills, but they make up for it by being fun, pure and simple.
The series is recommended to all, old and young alike. Who knows, they may even inspire someone new to the character to pick up a book and read the originals.