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Even these tapes cost something

  Sherlock and Me
 
1980 | American Pacific Productions
Sherlock & Me charlotte holmes Portland Films

When I heard that there was a video that combined live-action and anime I knew I had to see it. Now I have, but was it time well spent? I think you already know the answer to that one...

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Jo-o Heika No Petit Angie (Her Royal Majesty's Petite Angie) was created by Yu Yamamoto script writer on a number of notable anime TV series including Time Bokan, Urusei Yatsura and Mobile Suit Gundam.

Set in Victorian London, as a reward for recovering her stolen ring the Queen of England bestows the title of Petite Angie to aristocrat's daughter Angie Islington. This title elevates her to the status of Royal investigator and allows her to accompany the incompetent Inspector Jackson and his dashing assistant Michael on many a difficult case. The series was originally conceived as a wildly different tale about a Spanish Gypsy girl searching the country for her missing mother but was completely altered during production.

Created by Nippon Animation the series aired on TV Asahi on 13th December 1977 and ran until June the following year for a total of 26 half hour episodes. The show's setting and characters captured the imagination of young girls across Japan, giving them a glimpse of the exotic and romantic foreign world of English history. As you'd expect there was a lot of tie-in merchandise accompanying Petit Angie ranging from dolls in various outfits to records and stationary.

Voicing the title role of Angie Islington was Keiko Han, best known for the role of Luna in the Sailor Moon R TV series.

Petite Angie made her way west under a variety of names. In 1981 the TV series was shown in its entirety on TV stations all over Europe including Italy, Germany and the Netherlands known as Angie Girl. The girl detective was a particular hit in Italy, where it was shown on Italia 1 as part of the 'Super 3', prompting the release of their own range of tie-in toys and activity books.

In the English speaking world the junior detective took a less straight forward approach. Angie was re-written as Charlotte Holmes the fictional niece of legendary detective Sherlock Holmes. After recovering the Queen's ring she is given the reward of 'the Queen's Pendant' which grants the child complete access to the whole of London, when in pursuit of answers to a mystery.

In order to make Charlotte Holmes stand out from the animated crowd an Italian production company known as Solaris staged live action sequences featuring British theatre and TV actors Michael Evans (Douglas Austin in The Young and the Restless) and Bernard Fox (Dr Bombay in Bewitched) as the great Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr Watson. On a small stage dressed up as Holmes' drawing room the sleuths engage in mild slapstick and banter before Sherlock recounts another of his nieces adventures.

It's not clear how many of these episodes were filmed but a single 60 minute feature comprising episodes one and eleven of the original Angie, book ended by two live-action sequences was released on video in England and America in 1980 - the UK version titled Sherlock & Me from Portland Films and the U.S. tape known as The Casebook of Charlotte Holmes (distributor currently unknown). An animation only version made Mexican TV, dubbed in Spanish, called simply Charlotte Holmes.

Charlotte made a second appearance in the UK video market two years later as the 'Bonus Cartoon' on Mountain Video's release of Ringo Goes West, an English dub of Toei's Three Musketeers in Boots. The first episode of Angie is included at the very end of the main feature without an explanation or even title card or end credits. The dub and edit are identical to that of the Portland release minus the live action sections.

The last territory to see Angie's exploits was France.It first aired on French TV in 1990 ten years after her debut in most other parts of Europe and thirteen years since her creation in Japan.

 
Petit Angie aka Charlotte Holmes Angie Girl Dolls
The Japanese soundtrack LP
 
Some fairly scary dolls...
 
 

Today's video opens with a funky 70's tune. From the lyrics it seems to be about how "Sherlock & Me" go creeping around at night, banging on people's "back-yard" windows and lurk around in shadows solving mysteries. Sounds more like the activities of a peeping tom than Scotland Yard's most famous detective! Accompanying this disco delight is the usual collection of clips taken from the show you are about to watch and an overly grandiose credit which reads "and introducing Miss Charlotte Holmes Girl Detective Extraordinaire".

Before the intended audience gets to watch the cartoon they rented this video for, they first have to sit patiently through a total of ten minutes of live-action 'comedy'. The funs begins with Dr Watson arriving at 22 B Baker Street (looking suspiciously like a sparsely dressed stage) noticeably annoyed. Through a series of outstanding deductions (mud on his shoes, stains on his tie etc) Sherlock recounts his assistant's morning activities without being told a thing and helped only by music of the goofy and wacky variety.

The second scene is more closely linked to the purpose of the video; the introduction of Sherlock's eleven year old niece Charlotte. Sadly it's off screen - via a letter received in the morning mail - and not a superimposed cartoon unconvincingly meeting live action actors, which would have been far more entertaining. Again Holmes displays his uncanny knack for detection (as well as that for theatrical acting, dear boy) by deducing the sender of the letter without opening it, although this time it is entirely down to recognising the handwriting on the envelope so it's basically cheating.

Casebook of Charlotte Holmes Angie Girl

We never actually get to find out what is in Charlotte's letter as the aging detective gets sidetracked recalling one of her many adventures... cue the cheap, foreign cartoon...

The story, entitled by the girl herself as "The Case of the Queen's Pendant", opens with Charlotte racing through the empty streets of Victorian London on a horse drawn carriage on route to a meeting with Queen Victoria herself. We are not only introduced to the character of Charlotte Holmes but also her cloyingly annoying twee, little voice which remains the same for the entirety of the video... it's almost like nails down a chalk board every time she speaks!

She arrives on time for her audience with the Queen who, for having recovered her stolen ring at some unseen party, rewards her with a pendant. The pendant apparently gives Charlotte the protection of the Queen herself (meaning hardened psychotic criminals will have to think twice about simply offing the meddling child who threatens to expose their illegal activities or they'll suffer punishment at the hands of the monarchy - the Scooby Doo gang never had that safety net!). If that wasn't enough Charlotte also receives one wish which she uses to become an honourary detective with Scotland Yard.

Casebook of Charlotte Holmes Angie Girl Sherlock and me

Back home Charlotte tells her "Grand Mama" all about her meeting with the Queen and they discover an inscription on the back of the pendant. "Protect Charlotte in my name; Victoria Queen of England" reads the old woman who must have really bad eye sight, most likely from all that upper class inbreeding, since it clearly says "Do respect Angie under the name of myself Queen Victoria". I guess there was no such thing as 'Still Pause' on a Betamax! Anyway as shocked as the old woman is about Charlotte's dangerous new pass time she promises not to tell her parents, who are currently away in India. It wouldn't be fair to spoil all the fun they must be having enslaving all those indigenous people...

The next scene introduces the two men who'll become Charlotte's assistants on her many detective adventures. At Scotland Yard headquarters, the blustering Inspector Jackson is enraged about the news he'll be working alongside a child, after all either she is very clever, which is fairly unlikely, or Scotland Yard is really inept, seeing as they need the help of a precocious 11 year old to solve crimes. The unfortunate detective gets his coat caught in the door which causes him an undignified fall near the top of a dangerous set of stairs. I'm sure this episode is entirely out of character.

Angie Girl Sherlock and me

Having regained composure a bobby with an undeterminable accent alerts Jackson and his dashing assistant Michael to a reported grand theft art at the national art museum. Over a chez Holmes Charlotte is just receiving the same news from a horrible common looking working class serf called Frank she's had spying on the police. The pair race to the scene on her signature vehicle, not an exciting hi-tech car or giant robot but a horse with the odd name 'Grimm'.

The two crime fighting factions - Scotland Yard's supposed finest and Sherlock Holmes' supposed niece - arrive at the same scene, an empty room. The police are all set to toss Charlotte back out into the street but Michael spots the Queen's pendant that she is wearing and, through the deductive reasoning that makes him one of the best detectives in the land, works out that this annoying little girl must be their new assistant. Charlotte reveals that she already knows where the stolen paintings are and that they've not been stolen at all. And that a tiny beetle told her all this. This nonsense plus the continual, empty headed giggling leads the detectives to totally discount the child as any sort of super genius and they leave her with the thoroughly unsavoury looking chief of security, a man whose name appears to be 'Medicine'! I've no idea how Medicine got the job as he clearly has the look of the criminal about him. Just look at that mustache!

Casebook of Charlotte Holmes Angie Girl Sherlock and me

But I'm sure I'm just jumping to conclusions... Left all alone in the room with this dodgy looking gentleman, Charlotte explains to him why she thinks the paintings haven't been stolen. She tells him of how earlier she was repeatedly attacked by this tiny, flying beetle. When she batted it against the wall on which the paintings were supposed to be hanging, it made a hollow sound (just how loud does a beetle bang into a wall anyway?).

The sinister chief of security instantly breaks as he hears his foolproof plan unraveled by an eleven year old girl. He does the only thing he can - smother the child with his hand and carry her lifeless body away somewhere he can dispose of it. On the way Michael spots him but thinks nothing of it. Creepy looking man carrying a possibly dead child, nothing suspicious here - move along.

Casebook of Charlotte Holmes Angie Girl Sherlock and me

Medicine takes Charlotte to the basement where he sets about the early stages of child murder only to be interrupted by her pendant. Reading the inscription he realises just how much crap he's in! "Just my luck to kidnap an associate of the Queens! Killing you would mean the gallows for sure!" So rather than meet her end in a dank, stone basement Charlotte is instead bound and gagged and left where she will surely be easily found.

Outside that vile urchin Frank is causing a fuss so Michael agrees to help him find Charlotte. "Oh thanks, you're a good sort-a bloke!" the boy responds. Yep, he's English alright! Thanks to Frank's dog Buster the pair chance upon Charlotte and with the help of Michael's concealed knife (what kind of gentleman carries that around?) they have her free in a jiffy.

Safely in the company of her Scotland Yard companions Charlotte reveals the dastardly plot and fingers the Chief of Security (it turns out his name is Madison) as the foul perp. All they need is some way of getting Madison to implicate himself...

Fortunately, that night, Madison returns to the scene of the crime with his motley crew of wrong 'uns to retrieve their hidden loot. Unfortunately for them they tear down the phony wall to find the long arm of the law hiding behind. The crime is foiled and episode ends with the scene successfully set for more exciting detective adventures...

Casebook of Charlotte Holmes Angie Girl Sherlock and me

Like this next one! No live action intermission, just straight into the second and final story. The people of London have turned out to line the streets as a returning explorer and his son parade their latest catch, a large gorilla, for all to see. Wobbly, indeterminable accents abound! Amongst the crowd is young Charlotte and that pauper Frank. The stable boy find the Gorilla scary but his female companion notes that he is actually quite gentle and calm. Make a note of that, it may come in useful later...

Casebook of Charlotte Holmes Angie Girl Sherlock and me

Evening comes and the setting changes to a quiet shopping parade. A tubby woman and her friend (identified as "Miss Poppins") are out trying on hats when their happy time is disturbed by the sudden and unexpected arrival of Pepe the gorilla. Soon the large animal is causing havoc, breaking things, causing a scene but most notably swallowing jewellery. Having had his fill of ladies accessories he develops an appetite for clocks! "It's like the devil got into him!" comments Charlotte who happened to be in the area. Soon she is joined by bumbling Inspector Jackson and hunky Michael and they all give chase as Pepe takes to the rooftops.

Casebook of Charlotte Holmes Angie Girl Sherlock and me

Despite being full of gems and heavy wooden time pieces the gorilla can still shift and he looses the humans without too much trouble. A carriage arrives carrying Cyril, who identifies himself (in the best dodgy accent of all) as the chief assistant to the explorer's expedition and is, as such, responsible for Pepe's actions. Not that he believes the primate is capable of such things. He leads the police to the explorer's home which is the holding place for the gorilla.

Sure enough the cage is broken and Pepe is long gone. Mr explorer's son Tony is distraught at the situation and too believes that his gorilla pal is incapable of eating clocks (I'm no naturalist but I'm inclined to agree with him). Cyril heads off by himself to bring Pepe in.

Casebook of Charlotte Holmes Angie Girl Sherlock and me

After a little slapstick with tear-gas Scotland Yard's finest are called away to the market place as Pepe has reappeared and is once again causing panic. The law arrives just a little too late as Pepe the gorilla disappears into the shadows after apparently attacking his supposed friend Cyril. Charlotte is not so sure...

Tony causes a scene, preventing the police from following Pepe's trail, fearing that they will hurt his animal chum (the rifles they are carrying are a good indicator to their intentions). Dad eventually turns up, looking more and more like either Seigfreid or Roy, and forces his son to stop interfering with justice. Charlotte's uncertainty of the situation grows...

While the girl detective takes Michael off into the woods on a 'hunch' the real police locate Pepe and open fire. The terrified gorilla takes off towards town and, following in the footsteps of his primate forefathers, begins to scale a tall monument - in this case Big Ben.

Casebook of Charlotte Holmes Angie Girl Sherlock and me

Tony makes a surprise appearance, halfway up the tower, to use himself as a human shield for his wild pal completely spoiling the trigger happy copper's fun (take it from me, they rarely get to use them but when they do a London policeman loves to fire a gun!). Before the easily manipulated Jackson can get his men to open fire on the young boy Charlotte arrives to unravel the mystery. She point to events unfolding at the top of the tower - a second Pepe has appeared. How can this be? I'll tell you... the second is Michael in a costume!

But what does this prove? Well, earlier Frank spotted the suit inside Cyril's carriage and failed to inform the audience (creating a fair amount of reasonable doubt in my mind) and so it's fairly obvious that the gorilla disruption and theft was all down to the explorer's assistant. That plus he was never present when ever 'Pepe' was on the scene. Also Charlotte could never believe that the 'calm and gentle' gorilla she first met could be the same as the violent, trinket hungry one seen later. That's more than enough evidence for Inspector Jackson and Cyril is quickly railroaded into custody.

Casebook of Charlotte Holmes Angie Girl Sherlock and me

Tony and the real Pepe are reunited and the two cry tears of relief. That's right, a gorilla cried tears. Not as good as mummy dinosaur in Return of the Dinosaurs but she was also stop-motion so it's not a fair comparison really. Everything is nicely wrapped up, Pepe is being sent back home to the wild and something wacky happens to make everyone laugh!

Angie Girl

Back in real world, and there is still time for one last lark. This last one is a little baffling as it seems that we have come in halfway through the story (which could mean that there were more live scenes than just those in this video). For some reason Watson is sewing the rim back onto his hat but not too well as it soon falls apart on his head much to the humour of Holmes and presumably the audience as well.

Angie Girl Sherlock and me

We only get to see two of charlottes cases which turn out to be fairly harmless crimes. I imagine much of her later police work involved brutal multiple homicides, vice and crimes committed by opium addicts but unless there was a second video, we'll never find out...

 
Missing videos Missing videos

Dodgy Accents
Explorer & Cyril take us through a master class of portraying accents for the screen.

Sherlock & Watson
Another masterclass, this time in stage acting, dear boy. The final live vignette & the closing credits.

 
It's different...
 
It's short...
  Wobbly accents
  Perfectly fine live acting
  Funky theme
 
Crappy animation
 
Dodgy looking characters
  Dull stories
  Charlotte's voice!

There's really nothing too remarkable about Sherlock & Me. The live action bookends are inventive, they are well acted and more than a little effort has gone into them but the cartoon around which they hang is, at best, average. The animation and design is lacklustre and more dated than most TV anime I've seen from the era and the storylines are far from taxing - it was, after all, originally intended for a young audience.

The dubbing isn't too bad, the voices fit the characters and the speech fits the flaps but it's not the most inspiring ever recorded. The accents from the second episode are brilliantly ill judged which add some interest to the proceedings.

As a whole Sherlock & Me is alright, the live sections are actually more entertaining than the anime portions but the short running time help keeps the whole thing from growing tiresome.

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