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Comedy Playhouse - Elementary My Dear Watson

episode 13.3

UK 1973
produced by
Barry Took for BBC
directed by Harold Snoad
starring John Cleese, William Rushton, Bill Maynard, Josephine Tewson, Norman Bird, Chic Murray, Larry Martyn, John Wells, Michael Gover, Michael Knowles, Helen Lambert, Rosemary Lord, Ivor Salter, Rose Hill, Colin Bean, Gordon Faith, Frank Muir, Dawn Addams, Alan Coren, Patrick Campbell, Morag Hood, John Carson, Robert Robinson
written by N.F. Simpson, music by Burt Rhodes

Comedy Playhouse, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes (John Cleese), Fu Manchu, Moriarty

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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5 solicitors are murdered, all in the same office, and bent over their respective desks the same way, but only one of them is stolen. A case for Sherlock Holmes (John Cleese) and Dr Watson (William Rushton) no doubt, who coriously enough (the address this themselves) are still alive in 1973. Holmes soon figures out the stolen dead solicitor must have ended up as a Mystery Object of the Week on the TV-quizshow Call My Bluff - and he's right, too. But what about the other four? To that end, Holmes and Watson take one of the dead solicitors including desk through half the country ... but eventually abandon it to find out which rattlesnake (literally) is killing the lifestock and family of Lady Cynthia (Josephine Tewson) - but they never ever get there because Holmes becomes so confused by the modern train timetables that they cross half the country going exactly nowhere. Then Holmes picks up his archenemy Moriarty (Bill Maynard), who has over the years become an unconvincing crossdresser - but no mind, he's only a red herring, the real baddie of the piece is Fu Manchu (Larry Martyn), who has killed the solicitors to ship them to Red China as conversation pieces. But thanks to an understanding and patriotic editor, Holmes can stop the Oriental baddie just in time ...


Does this synopsis make any sense?

Didn't think so, but neither makes this episode of Comedy Playhouse, which is more of an exercise in Monty Python-like absurdity than anything else. The problem is though, despite the presence of John Cleese, this here is not Monty Python, and while that troupe had a way of bringing absolute absurdities to unexpected heights in an ingenious way, this here might be absurd enough, but the spark of genius is missing to make it great. That's not to say the thing is entirely unfunny, several jokes are hilarious, actually, it just doesn't work half as well as a whole as several of the jokes do by themselves, and one can't shake the feeling something is missing.

John Cleese as Holmes is great though.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD