Reviewed by DAVID VINEYARD:          

“The Sting of Death.” An episode of The Elgin Hour. ABC-TV; 22 February 1955. (Season 1, Episode 11). Boris Karloff, Robert Flemyng, Hermione Gingold, Martin Green. Teleplay by Alvin Sapinsky, based on the novel A Taste for Honey by H. F. Heard. Directed by Daniel Petrie.

         â€œMy dear sir, the game is afoot.”

   Superb live melodrama from television’s Golden Age features Boris Karloff as the mysterious beekeeper Mr. Mycroft, and Robert Flemyng as Mr. Sidney Silchester, a bachelor teacher on holiday in Sussex who finds himself in the midst of a murderous plot of sinister proportions all because he has an inordinate taste for honey.

   It seems Mr. Hargrove, a local beekeeper has found a way to suppress rival bee populations and cornered the honey market locally, but he has also spread out from that occupation and recently killed Mr. Mycroft’s dog, Musgrave. The mysterious Mycroft is convinced, as he tells Mr.Silchester, that Hargrove plans to expand his experiments, and it seems he may be right when Silchester’s housekeeper Alice (Hermione Gingold) announces poor Mrs. Hargrove was stung to death.

   But it isn’t until the nervous Mr. Silchester is targeted by the Master Criminal, as Mr. Mycroft, describes Hargrove, that a tense game of cat and mouse develops with life and death at stake.

   H. F. Heard’s novel, and its sequel, Reply Paid, feature Mr. Mycroft and Mr. Silchester in two sinister adventures mixing science fiction (Heard penned the classic SF novel Doppleganger), horror, and mystery in a tasty mix for those with a taste for Sherlockian lore equal to Mr. Silchester’s taste for honey, and this well written and directed drama by Alvin Sapinsky and director Daniel Petrie more than rewards on both levels.

   Karloff and Flemyng are obviously enjoying themselves, with the former relishing his chance to play Sherlock Holmes, however obliquely. There are numerous nice touches in the script from the book, and one nice bit as Karloff hangs a coat hastily over a fore and aft on a peg by the door. It’s clear Karloff relished this part.

   This one is well worth catching, with fine performances all around, and only a few minor problems with props like walking sticks that fall over, bandages that won’t stick, and spectacles that come off at inopportune times to remind you it was done live aside from the sets and painted backdrops, and even those contribute to the fun here.

   All and all this entertains as far more than a curiosity. The book was filmed again as The Deadly Bees by Freddie Francis with Frank Finlay and Guy Doleman, minus Mycroft and the Sherlockian bit as a straight suspense/horror outing with a subplot involving a rock star with a nervous breakdown that always seemed totally out of left field to me. It isn’t awful, but it has none of the charm of this well acted 52 minute production on a shoestring budget.

   And you have to admit the idea of Boris Karloff as Sherlock Holmes is worth watching in and of itself.