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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Detective > Literature > Anthology > British TV > The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes Set Two/The Complete Second Season (1973/Acorn Media Vs. Network U.K. DVD Sets)

The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes Set Two/The Complete Second Season (1973/Acorn Media Vs. Network U.K. DVD Sets)


Picture: C Sound: C+ Extras: C- Episodes: B



PLEASE NOTE: This Network U.K. PAL DVD version of this set can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region Two/2 PAL format software and can be only be ordered from our friends at Network U.K. at the website address provided at the end of the review.  Acorn offers a solid NTSC Region One edition.



After a year in which it was not broadcast (but was in deep production), The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes TV series concluded its fun project of adapting as many mystery stories by other authors with other potential breakout detectives as possible. This time, we have an import version from Britain to add to our coverage. To learn more about the series from our coverage of the first set, try this link:





The cases this time are as follows:


Judy Geeson as Polly Burton in The Mysterious Death On The Underground Subway

Barry Keegan as Inspector Lipinski in Five Hundred Carats

Douglas Wilmer as Prof. Van Dusen in Cell 13

Bernard Hepton as Mr. Laxworthy in The Secret Of The Magnifique

Charles Gray as Eugene Valmont in The Absent-Minded Coterie

John Thaw as Lt. Holst in The Sensible Action Of Lieutenant Holst

Douglas Wilmer as Prof. Van Dusen in The Superfluous Finger

Ronald Lewis as Dagobert Trostler in Anonymous Letters

Barrie Ingram* as Dr. Thorndyke in A Message From The Deep Sea

Derek Jacobi as William Drew in The Secret Of The Fox Hunter

Ronald Fraser as Mr. Horrocks in The Looting Of The Specie Room

Sara Kestelman as Hagar in The Mystery Of The Amber Beads

Robin Ellis as Charles Dallas in The Missing Q.C.s


* John Neville played him in the opening show of the last season.



As before, any of these shows could have been spun-off into their own series, with Geeson (of Star Maidens), Gray, Lewis, Frazer and Jacobi more obvious candidates for such treatment and Thaw has had several hits in the genre after with Inspector Morse, Kavanagh Q.C. and The Sweeney. I liked this season as much and maybe a little more than the previous one, which makes it all the more sad that Thames did not renew the show, but Rivals turns out to be an underrated series and it is great it is now completely available on both sides of the Atlantic.


The 1.33 X 1 image was shot mostly in PAL analog video with some 16mm in spots (here off of the PAL video of the time, unfortunately; hope that footage survived) and you can see haloing and other color weakness, to say nothing of detail limits, but they look about as good as PAL tapings of this time can, so the transfers are decent. There are hardly any difference between the two DVD versions with the PAL edition showing more flaws with its slightly better definition, but they are dead even otherwise. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on both is even more similar and still good for its age with the same expected distortion as the previous set. Extras include text profiles of all the characters featured, continuing the only extra from the first set.


I once again pulled out the famous compilation book Detectionary (1977), a must-have for anyone serious about reading early Mystery fiction. Polly Burton (created by Baroness Emma Orczy), Inspector Lipinski (George Griffith), Mr. J.T. Laxworthy (E. Phillips Oppenheim), Eugene Valmont (Robert Barr), Lt. Holst (Baron Palle Rosenkrantz), Dagobert Trostler (Adalbert Goldscheider), William Drew (William Le Queux), Mr. Horrocks (C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne), Hagar (Fergusson Wright Hume (or Fergus Hume)) and Charles Dallas (William Arthur Dunkerley) were not listed! With all the great detectives on these two volumes, maybe its time for Overlook Press to update their classic.



The Acorn set is now available everywhere, while you can order the PAL DVD import version set exclusively from Network U.K. at:









-   Nicholas Sheffo


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