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The Doclopedia #1,347

Alt. TV: The Mysterious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

On Earth 2-B, the television series “The Wild Wild West” was even more popular than it was on our Earth. It also ran 3 years longer, from 1965 to 1972. During that time, the writers and producers turned up the steampunk elements and had Agents West & Gordon encounter several well known characters from late 19th and early 20th century fiction. Fu Manchu made three appearances, and Count Dracula made two. Jekyll & Hyde, Frankenstein’s Monster (who was portrayed as a decent fellow) and Captain Nemo all got episodes.

But the biggest ratings went to the five episodes featuring Sherlock Holmes as a young man. Played by a young British actor named Steven Drake, this Holmes was still learning and not quite the man he would become. He also had a keen interest in the supernatural. After his first 3 appearances on the show hit ratings gold, the producers decided to make a backdoor pilot for a Holmes series. They did this via the only two part episode in The Wild Wild West’s run. Titled “The Night Of The Howling Horror” and “The Night Of The Hunting Wolf”, the episodes found West, Gordon, Holmes and Holmes friend Ian Winters investigating a series of murders in Denver. Sure enough, a werewolf was the culprit and at the end of episode one, West kills him with a silver bullet…just before another werewolf causes all of their horses to bolt, leaving them in the woods on foot. The next episode was pretty much survival horror, albeit tamed way down for television. In the end, the second werewolf turned out to be the wife of the first one.

The ratings were huge, so CBS commissioned a series, which premiered in 1971. Each episode featured a beginning in which an older Holmes, played by Vincent Price, related a story from his younger days to either Dr. Watson, Inspector Lestrade or Mycroft Holmes, although in one episode he told the story to Mrs. Hudson. At the end of each episode, the person who heard the story would often accuse Holmes of having them on.

The stories followed Homes and Winters around the British Isles, Europe, North America and, in three episodes, India. They encountered real supernatural events, from a family of fairies to the Loch Ness Monster, and a few hoaxes. The strangeness was not limited to the supernatural, either. One episode featured aliens, another had a clockwork robot, and a third was about a young woman with strange dietary needs (fresh human hearts). Almost all of the episodes featured a good bit of action and a few steampunk gadgets.

The series was a big hit and ran for 5 years and 150 episodes, ending in May of 1976. Thirty years later, a series of four feature length motion pictures would be made based upon the series most popular episodes.