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The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It

UK 1977
produced by
Humphreys Barclay, Kenneth Harper (executive) for London Weekend Television, ITV
directed by Joseph McGrath
starring John Cleese, Arthur Lowe, Connie Booth, Stratford Johns, Denholm Elliott, Gyearbuor Asante, Nick Tate, Edmund Pegge, Josephine Tewson, Burt Kwouk, Ron Moody, Holly Palance, Joss Ackland, Val Pringle, Bill Mitchell, Christopher Malcolm, Derek Griffiths, Billy Hamon, Robert Kingdom, Maria Charles, Delaney O'Connor, Moira Foot, Dudley Jones, Luie Caballero, Kenneth Benda, Charlotte Alexandra, Maurice Kaufmann, Mike O'Malley, Paul Chapman
original idea by Jack Hobbs, Joseph McGrath, screenplay by Jack Hobbs, Joseph McGrath, John Cleese, based on characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle, music by Ivor Slaney

Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes (John Cleese), Moriarty, Hercule Poirot (cameo), Columbo (cameo), Sam Spade (cameo), McCloud (cameo)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Modern day London: A villain threatens to end society as we know it, if ... well, if he's not stopped. So he has a sniper placed across the street from an international security conference who picks out and shoots dead the conference members one by one. And since the villain is called Moriarty, Arthur Sherlock Holmes (John Cleese), last descendant of Sherlock Holmes, and Dr Watson (Arthur Lowe), also a descendant, are brought in to handle the case ... not so much because they live up to their ancestors' names but because - well, you know, Moriarty vs Holmes ...

Of course, nobody knows what this Moriarty looks like, all Holmes knows is he has a high pitched laugh ... so he gathers all master detectives - Hercule Poirot (Dudley Jones), James Bond's M (Kenneth Benda), Hawaii 5-0's Steve McGarrett (Maurice Kaufman), Columbo (Luie Caballero), Sam Spade (Mike O'Malley) and McCloud (Paul Chapman) - for a conference at a posh hotel ... where the baddie dressed as Watson kills them one by one - which was actually Sherlock Holmes' plan, because he wanted to get rid of competition. Actually, he knew who was Moriarty all along - his landlady Ms Hudson (Connie Booth). And since he knew, he had Watson substitute the bullets in her gun for blanks. Just one thing though - Watson is not as reliable as he used to be these days, so he might have forgotten to substitute the bullets ... and yes, civilization as we know it really ended in 1977 I suppose.

 

John Cleese's second attempt at a Sherlock Holmes parody (after Comedy Playhouse - Elementary My Dear Watson) is pretty much as successless as his first one, maybe more so. The main problem with The Strange Case of the End Of Civilization as We Know It is that it never seems to really find its story, suffers from a weak structure, and is cluttered with a few too many weak jokes. And the usually dependable John Cleese definitely had one of his worse days when making this one. Apart from a few inspired jokes, the only thing that's really funny about this made-for-TV movie is Arthur Lowe, who might look nothing like Watson, but he hams up the role the way Nigel Bruce played it to the hilt, to hilarious results.

Still, as a whole the film does not live up to its expectations - which is a pity.

 

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
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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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD