Doc On The Box – Father Brown Episodes 8 to 10

Father BrownBelieve it or not, I’ve been so busy actually reading those book things that I’d almost forgotten to post my opinions of the last three episodes of the BBC’s latest adaptation of Father Brown, starring Mark Williams. The opening episode is reviewed here, while episodes 2 to 4 are here and episodes 5 to 7 are here.

So far, the episodes have been enjoyable but have seemed somewhat out of phase with the typical mystery format. Either an obvious villain, or too much subplot… often something just hasn’t quite gelled. So how did the series end?

Episode 8 – The Face Of Death

An original tale and one of the best of the series. The old chestnut of a death at a garden party, a suitably complicated plot and one decent shock. Admittedly, the plot is a bit unnecessarily over the top and the killer is pretty guessable, but overall, this was good fun.

Episode 9 – The Mayor and the Magician

Hmmm. Despite having Sherlock’s Louise Brealey in it, this had a lot of potential, but a hint to the writers. The most obvious suspect as the villain only works in exceptional cases and this wasn’t one of them. Plus points for some decent character development for Mrs McCarthy and Lady Felicia, although minus points for the various characterisations going all over the place from episode to episode.

Episode 10 – The Blue Cross

An adaptation of the first Father Brown story – which was surprisingly close in places to the original story. As a TV episode, it wisely chose not to run as a whodunnit. There is a bit of a Where’s Flambeau”” vibe and, although his identity is pretty obvious, there was a clever bit to this. But the overall drama, if you put aside Flambeau’s somewhat changeable nature, was good – it almost felt like a different series.

So overall, how was the series? I think it was a quality piece of daytime telly, with an excellent central performance from Mark Williams, and I much prefer it to something like Ripper Street, but I do hope that the mystery plots are tightened up more next series. If there is another series. Which I hope there is…


  1. THE FACE OF DEATH was a terrific little episode, although it almost felt more like Christie than Chesterton. The characters managed to be more than one dimensional, with a nice balance between the people and the puzzle. If they were all of this quality it might be one of the better traditional crime series on the box.

    THE MAYOR AND THE MAGICIAN was complete and utter tripe, and not even good tripe. Everything was painted in such broad strokes as to make it look like a parody (this managed to work in so many cliches that it really felt that as though the scripter was ticking them off on a clip board as she wrote the thing). The whole subplot about the Magician was not even worked into the main story, and felt like nothing less than an attempt to pad out a blatantly obvious mystery. Someone really should have made it clearer to the writer that a mystery show is not the same as a soap opera. Poor old Inspector Valentine seems to be moving ever closer to being thrown off the force. Had Brown not told him that the microphone had been rigged he would never have known, and when the very well connected person he decides to arrest within half an hour of the murder makes some sort of official complaint he will probably be back to directing traffic (note to scripters: please read at least one book about how the police actually work).

    THE BLUE CROSS was excellent. A clever expansion of the original story, which made some genuine religious points. I’m not certain that they got Flambeau right, but it was a good performance, and an extremely well written episode overall. Rather like THE FACE OF DEATH, this felt like the sort of episode that they should use as a template for series 2.

    So, overall, I did enjoy this series. It could be wildly uneven, with really good episodes sitting next to time wasters that made you want to throw things at the screen, but it always looked good. Williams has totally won me over, and made even the worst scripts watchable. There is a second series planned, so I hope that they build on the strengths of this first series, and play down the less successful ones.


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