Starring: Ronald Howard, Howard Marion-Crawford, Archie Duncan, Meg Lemonnier, Ursula Howellss
Unless I miss my guess, The Case of the Cunningham Heritage is the first episode of Sheldon Reynold’s Sherlock Holmes television series. In the set I have, it is presented as the third episode, but as the story concerns the first meeting of Sherlock Holmes (Ronald Howard) and Dr. John Watson (Howard Marion-Crawford) it makes logical (and chronological) sense for it to be the premiere episode.
As the story begins, Dr, John Watson is returning to London after being wounded while serving as a Military Doctor in Afghanistan. He is now looking for a place to saty — ‘comfortable lodgings at a reasonable price’. At his gentlemen’s club, he mentions his search to an old chum — also in the medical profession, who steers him toward a gentleman named Sherlock Holmes — who has been looking for someone to share his apartment on Baker Street. The chum says that Holmes is a strange fellow — he has been doing some research at the hospital and was last seen ‘beating a corpse with a stick’. Holmes it is said, was trying to find out if it was possible to inflict a bruise on a body after death.
Despite this strange tale, Watson chooses to meet Holmes, and is immediately impressed with the fellow. Within twenty-four house, Watson is moving his clobber into his new lodgings at 221B Baker Street.
Within moments of Watson settling into his new home, a gentleman comes to call representing Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard. He delivers a message, which invites Holmes — and now Watson — to the home of the Cunningham’s where a murder has been committed.
The murdered man is Peter Cunningham, and the prime suspect is his fiance, Joan (Ursula Howellss). She was discovered leaning over the victim with a knife in her hand. She claims that she had discovered the body and was removing the knife.
As Holmes arrives, Joan is being grilled by Inspector Lestrade (Archie Duncan), the matriarch of the family (Meg Lemmonier), and her other son, Robert. Holmes quickly deduces that Joan is not the victim’s fiancee, but in fact his wife, and they had been married for at least a week. As a married woman, it appears that she is now in line for some inheritance, so that only makes her motif, and guilt seem that much more complete. At least in the eyes of Inspector Lestrade, who has her arrested and taken away. Of course, Holmes is not convinced.
The mystery portion of this episode is not that complicated or clever, and the majority of viewers will quickly guess the perpetrator of the crime. The enjoyment from this episode comes from the rapport between Holmes and Watson as they first meet each other. Howard Marion-Crawford is a fine Watson, not as buffoonish as Nigel Bruce. His constant frustration in understanding Holmes, and his most unusual methods is a joy to watch.