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Series / The Adventures of Shirley Holmes

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Elementary, my dear Sawchuk.

"You cops just keep getting younger and younger!"
— Some homeless woman to Shirley.

A Canadian kids' show from The '90s about Shirley, the great-grandniece of the legendary Sherlock Holmes, who solves crimes in the fictional town of Redington, where she lives with her father Robert, a British diplomat, and her grandmother Peggy.

Shirley's Dr. Watson is Bo Sawchuk, a street smart former gang member whom Shirley meets in detention; she helps him get out of trouble and they become best friends and sleuthing partners. Likewise, her Moriarty counterpart is Molly Hardy, a scheming, sociopathic mastermind of a teenage girl that is admired by everybody who doesn't know her true nature.

The show aired for four seasons in YTV. It was well received by both the audience and the critics, winning several awards during its run. It aired in over 80 countries, and was dubbed in eight languages. There was buzz of a movie possibly being made, but it never materialized. As of now, there hasn't been an official DVD release. However, all the episodes have been uploaded to YouTube.

For another 90's take on a teen girl taking up the mantle of a classical hero she's descended from, see Back To Sherwood for its take on the Robin Hood myth with fantasy and time travel.

This show provides examples of:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: Bo wins a quiz show for entry into an elite school in "Calculated Crime" giving his shoe size as an answer to the bonus question.
  • Alien Abduction: "The Case of the Alien Abductions" featured a faked one. Still, you have to wonder how Peggy got that scar on the back of her neck.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Shirley.
  • Bookcase Passage: The Holmes residence has one leading to the attic, where Shirley has her laboratory set up.
  • Born Detective: Shirley, by virtue of being a Holmes. Even her father Robert tries to get in on the sleuthing action a few times.
  • Bottle Episode: "The Case of the Left Thumbprint" is set entirely inside and outside the Holmes residence. "The Case of the Dead Debutante" is mainly set inside the Sussex Academy dormitory.
  • The Case Of: Except for Season 4's "The Basket Case," all the episode titles follow this format.
  • The Chessmaster: Molly, in many of her plots and plans.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In "The Case of the Alien Abductions," Shirley taking Tai Chi lessons from Peggy helps her overcome being hypnotized.
  • Clear Their Name: Shirley has to do this four times. In "The Case of the Burning Building," she has to prove against the belief of the Redington police and Sussex Academy that Bo isn't the arsonist in the neighborhood. In "The Case of the Doggone Cats," she works to prove that Stink's dog Barf didn't eat the neighborhood cats. She does it again in "The Case of the Left Thumbprint" when her father gets accused of abusing his diplomatic status to sell information to another country. She later saves Ned Crawford in "The Case of the Miraculous Mine" when someone tricks him into being wrongfully arrested for Insurance Fraud.
  • Clip Show: "The Case of the Puzzle from the Past."
  • Con Man: Brian in "The Case of the King of Hearts."
  • Dance Party Ending: "The Case of the Dead Debutante" has everyone dancing outside during sunrise.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: Robert Holmes was once accused of abusing his diplomatic status to sell information to another country. In another episode, it was believed he was harboring a suspected murderer, a woman who turned out to be innocent. The police officer interrogating him acknowledged he couldn't arrest Holmes but warned he could lose his job over that. That risk was quite real.
  • The Ditz: Alicia, but she can be quite smart sometimes, too.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Bo has one. It's Francis.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The only time Molly genuinely cares about someone is when she learns that her horse Foxglove has to be put to sleep. The look on her face is gut-wrenching. Not that this makes her show the slightest bit of gratitude to Shirley for saving said horse.
    Molly: Of course you realize nothing's changed.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: Bo and Parker, especially. In "Calculated Crime," Sussex Academy suddenly eliminates math from its curriculum...
    Bart: Do you know what that means?
    Bo: Yes. I'm having the luckiest day of my life, possibly of anyone's life, ever.
  • Fictional Country:
    • Wutai: "Rising Moon" gives us the kingdom of Salamar, of which Bai Sung is the heir to the throne.
    • Ruritania: In "Ten Dollar Thief," the titular thief comes from a small Eastern European country called Vladnia, "population 15M, major exports are agricultural products, dairy, wheat and poultry."
  • First Love: Matt is this for Shirley in "The Case of the Galloping Ghost."
  • Good with Numbers: Matt. He went to a special school for genius kids and everything. Bo is a complete aversion, Matt even helps him with the answers in a math-based game show so he'll be able to get in as well.
    Bo: Some geniuses! They can't even count.
    Matt: They're calculating pi.
    Bo: Oh.
  • Heir Club for Men: As revealed in the intro, Sherlock Holmes expected a "young man" to solve his puzzle. Shirley didn't seem to mind.
    • In "The Case of the Rising Moon", a princess was being targeted because some of her subjects didn't like the idea of a woman being their ruler.
  • Insufferable Genius: Shirley is a downplayed version of this: She doesn't mean to appear arrogant and is, in fact, a genuinely nice person, but her inquisitiveness and intelligence are often a source of annoyance to others.
  • Insurance Fraud: Ned Crawford is arrested for insurance fraud when a ruby he reported as stolen is found at his home. It turns out the ruby was planted there by a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to stop him from exploiting child labor.
  • Kid Detective: Of course. Even more so in the Winklemania books, where Shirley is eight.
  • Left the Background Music On: The background music from one scene of Shirley spying on a new student in "The Case of the Rising Moon" turned out to be a student playing a flute.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: In "The Case of The Mysterious Message," Shirley and Bo don't tell Bart and Alicia that Molly was responsible for locking Shirley in the museum vault. at the former's insistence ("It's for their own protection"). Cut to two episodes later ("Code of Silence") and Bo—now having seen Molly act against three of his closest acquaintances (Cousin Zack in "Broken Oath", Shirley in both "Crooked Comic" and the aforementioned "Mysterious Message" and now his former gang idol Jesse Romanko)note —decides enough is enough and tells Bart about Molly's scheme before Shirley! It's not known if Bart was told about any of Molly's previous plots, but the point stands that a fourth person now knows the truth and must be silenced. note 
  • Lovable Nerd: Bart has quite a few admirers among the fandom. Also Matt.
  • Love Martyr: Stink for Molly, at least in the beginning.
  • The Men in Black: Two of them show up in "The Case of the Celestial Signal."
  • Missing Mom: Shirley's mother, Joanna, went missing in Rwanda before the show started. Shirley finds her and rescues her in the season three finale.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Rising Moon," Shirley looking into Catherine online enables two hitmen to trace her location and go after her.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: The producers named a growth spurt in the cast as a reason for cancelling the show.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Peggy Holmes has shades of this sometimes. Some other times, she's more of a Bunny-Ears Lawyer. Also, Shirley often "disguises" herself as a ditz when she's trying to find clues.
  • Official Couple: Shirley and Matt Harris. Although they go their separate ways in "The Case of the Virtual Zeus," Shirley does say she is still interested in being in a relationship with him.
  • Parental Neglect: Both Molly and Alicia, both of whom live full-time on campus at Sussex Academy and neither of whose parents make any appearances in the show. The episode "Case of the Maestro's Ghost" confirms this for the former (her parents think a bridge tournament is more important than looking for their supposedly missing daughter), while the latter case is STRONGLY implied in several episodes.
    • In the episode "Singer's Secret", Alicia refuses to remain at Sussex during a holiday weekend and chooses to stay at Shirley's house rather than make any attempt to contact her parents or another family member.
    • "The Case of the Dead Debutante", Shirley asks Meghan's ghost where Alicia's parents live. It's telling that Shirley automatically moves on to the next question (how many designer shoes Alicia owns) instead of demanding a straight answer (if not the exact address, Shirley might at least have insisted on the town's name or at least the provence) when she responds with:
      Meghan as Alicia: Not with me.
    • "The Case of the Mysterious Message", all but confirming that Alicia has spent much of her childhood being shipped back and forth between various summer camps and private academies (Note: There are real life boarding academies which accept students as young as five, so this is not entirely unbelievable).
      Alicia: (while preparing to unlock the safe and free Shirley) Seven years of summer camp is finally paying off.
    • Stink was also initially this, but he confronts his parents over the issue in the climax of "Exact Change" and they agree to start improving themselves.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Shirley and Bo.
  • Plot Allergy: Shirley is allergic to bee stings. In "The Case of the Puzzle from the Past," she falls unconscious after being stung, and we follow her dreams for the rest of the episode.
    • She has hay fever in "The Case of the Flim Flam Farm."
  • Police Are Useless: Det. Tremain takes on the role of a (mostly) useless Inspector Lestrade. He once tells Shirley that a thief they were tailing only took 10-dollar bills because he's an underachiever.
  • Popularity Food Chain: Played with during the first season in that the six main characters were usually-but not always-seen in pairs based on their presumed social standing, specifically Shirley/Bo, Bart/Stink, and Molly/Alicia. This was significantly downplayed in Season 2 and abolished entirely by Season 3 in favor of showing all of them (except Molly) as a single peer group.
  • The Prankster: Stink.
  • Punny Name: Molly Hardy. Say it fast enough, and you'll get it. Incidentally, the Winklemania books had Molly Harty.
    • Not to mention Shirley herself - of course, she could have been as good a detective even if her parents had named her Jane or Sarah or whatever, but that wouldn't sound as punny.
  • Put on a Bus: Stink is expelled from school in "The Case of the Crooked Comic," thanks to Molly. He's never seen again and is presumably following his new career as a stand-up comedian.
    • Shirley's grandmother Peggy is said to be in Fiji in "The Case of the Vanishing Virus" and is never seen onscreen for the rest of the series.
    • Inspector Markie is never seen again after Season 1 and is replaced by Detective Tremain in Season 2.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Side Kick: Bo.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Molly's major weakness. "The Case of The Broken Oath" is a good example of this. Molly creates an anonymous internet account using the name "Y" and blackmails up-and-coming rock band Oath into performing the terrible song that she wrote. When Shirley gets a copy of the lyrics to the song, she discovers that the first letter of the first word in each verse spells out "Molly Hardy." When Shirley confronts Molly, she points out that if she could have gotten away with the scheme if she'd resisted the impulse to literally put her name on it. Molly ends up getting away with it by blackmailing Shirley with the threat of exposing her detective work, which would obviously make it much more difficult.
  • The Sociopath: Molly is directly referred to as one by a psychologist who analyzes her as part of her attempting to get an important job at the United Nations. Needless to say, she becomes obsessed with trying to find and destroy all the copies of the psychologist's report.
  • Spin-Offspring: Shirley is Sherlock Holmes' great-grandniece, presumably descended from one of Sherlock's older brothers.
  • Stuffy Brit: While he's far from being emotionless, Shirley's father is a quiet, reserved man who enjoys his morning tea, some posh activities and never goes overboard with showing his emotions. Come to think of it, Shirley herself sometimes has shades of this as well. Well, considering their family history...
  • Sympathy for the Devil: At the end of "The Case of the Crooked Comic," Shirley says that she feels pity for Molly, because she's so empty inside that she'll never know true friendship.
  • Those Two Guys: Parker. Well, he's only one guy but he doesn't really fit in that other trope as much as he does in this one.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: In "The Case of the Left Thumbprint", someone steals a valuable decoder from Shirley's home. Shirley suspects that the same someone left a dead bird on her bed, put a sheet over a dollhouse, and set fire to some incriminating evidence, but they didn't. The person who did those things was Shirley herself. The stress of her father being suspected of theft caused her to sleepwalk and unconsciously leave clues to the mystery that she would find once she was awake.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Great-granddaughter, but still. Shirley certainly didn't inherit Mycroft Holmes's looks.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Shirley saves Molly from being burned to death by Elyse and stops her Morality Pet horse from being put to death due to a fake case of rabies. Does this change Molly's attitude towards her? Nope.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Downplayed, but starting with "The Case of the Crooked Comic," Shirley ups her game and starts outsmarting Molly more and more. She doesn't full-out win most of the time, but she ruins Molly's plans and prevents her from advancing in her goals. Molly becomes increasingly angry over the course of Season 3, and her normal facade starts to show cracks.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Molly. Up to the very end, she's got everybody convinced she's a model student. Only Shirley and Bo see her sociopathic side, initially. Stink, Bart and Matt would eventually learn her true evil nature as well, in the episodes "Crooked Comic", "Code of Silence", and "Virtual Zeus" respectively.
  • Visionary Villain: It's implied that Molly plans to use her job at the United Nations, her budding social media presence, and other connections to end up controlling the tastes and trends of her entire generation. Thanks to Shirley, she fails in getting the first item in "Crooked Comic."
  • What Would X Do?: In "Mysterious Message," Shirley gets herself locked inside a safe while looking for her grandmother. Bo, Bart and Alicia think she's been kidnapped and set out to look for her, and to decide how to go about this, they wonder "What would Shirley do?"
  • Wicked Stepmother: In "The Case of the Rising Moon", a princess was fearing for her life and believed her stepmother was the culprit. Subverted when it's revealed the stepmother was innocent and the plot had been engineered by people who didn't want a woman to rule their nation - the stepmother's son was the next in line to inherit the throne, which gave the princess a reason to believe her stepmother was guilty in the first place.