On The Adventures Of Shirley Holmes, 12-year-old Shirley's brain is her best weapon. Carrying on in the tradition of her distant ancestor's knack for sleuthing, she carries fingerprint powder in her daytimer and checks out crime scenes on her way to school.
Plotwise, it can be pretty unbelievable, such as when Shirley is unnoticed in plain sight at a high-security diplomatic gathering, or when she performs minor surgery on her teacher.
Two episodes sent for screening, tonight's The Case Of The Burning Building, and next week's The Case Of The Alien Abductions, displayed some sense of humor.
When Shirley peppers a homeless woman with questions about a crime, the woman sighs, "You cops just keep getting younger and younger."
In the second episode, Shirley and her friend Bo debate whether a mark on the neck of their timid history teacher, Mr. Howie, is a lovebite or a clue to alien abduction.
"Who'd abduct Mr. Howie?" scoffs Bo.
Says Shirley: "Who'd give him a hickey?"
Fresh-faced Meredith Henderson has the title role and gives Shirley intelligence and rebelliousness, making her courageous but afraid to face the reality of her mother's death.
There's no mystery in comparing the female leads of these two shows.
Nikita would win a wrestling match.
But Shirley would win on Jeopardy.