On to series two of Jonathan Creek, in preparation for the return of the series next Friday. You can see my thoughts on Series One, and The Reconstituted Corpse in particular, here.
On to series two, consisting of six episodes, two of which make up a two-part story. There’s also a ninety minute Christmas special. The cast is basically as in series one – Alan Davies as Jonathan Creek, Caroline Quentin as Maddie Magellan and they’re joined now by Stuart Milligan as Adam Klaus, Jonathan’s boss who had appeared in the first episode played by Anthony Head but then disappeared (as if by magic) for the rest of the series. The comments on the first post seem to indicate that it’s downhill hereafter – but let’s take a look at this series first.
The episode I thought I’d take a look at is The Scented Room. A priceless painting vanishes without trace from inside a watched and impregnable room. Jonathan solves the case in record time, but because he doesn’t like the person who it belonged to – a theatre critic who has slammed Adam’s shows in the past – he decides to torture him by keeping the solution to himself.
Didn’t really mention Alan Davies in the last post – that was silly of me. While it seems that Renwick didn’t intend him to be the star of the show, despite his character being the title of it, I personally think he steals it from Caroline Quentin from the first episode. For someone who was basically new to straight acting, it’s a great understated performance. And now he’s being given a little more to do – the addition of Klaus (who, by the way, is never given anything remotely worthwhile to do – it’s a wonder Stuart Milligan stuck around for three series and a special) gives someone for Jonathan to react to without Maddie being around.
In this episode, we see him revelling in confounding the critic, even when the truth is revealed, and, more importantly, the developing relationship between Jonathan and Maddie. By the end of the series, it’s clear that they both care about each other, even with the various obstacles that get in their way. Maddie’s character seems to have had her excesses toned down in this series, although that may be due to Jonathan’s influence, rather than a character re-write.
The mystery here is pretty clever, although it’s not really clued – Jonathan’s ham sandwich remark notwithstanding. Although… I’m not convinced that in the time available, the SPOILER could be safely inserted into the SPOILER without it falling out again. Is that nitpicking? Unlike some episodes, it would seem that the impossibility was put in to service the charactes’ stories, rather than the impossibility coming first and the plot following. Overall, it’s a really good episode, much better than I remember it being.
The other episodes in the series are:
Danse Macabre – a proper locked room vanishing, fairly clued and suitably dark. A great start to the series.
Time Waits For Norman – an original set-up where a man, obsessed with time and clocks, is spotted almost simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Problem At Gallows’ Gate (2 episodes) – one of the best whodunits in the series, but it is unfortunately one episode too long. The impossibility bit is a little on the prosaic side though.
Mother Redcap – a double mystery concerning an old pub where people dropped dead in the middle of the night over the years and a judge is stabbed through the heart despite being surrounded by police and barred windows. A highly atmospheric episode that scared the pants off me when I first saw it.
Black Canary – Christmas Special – despite only one real mystery, it holds the attention over the full running time. A complex tale concerning an apparent suicide and a tramp who walks on air, leaving no footprints in the snow. Highly enlivened by Rik Mayall as Inspector Pryke, who delights in revealing bits that Jonathan tends to keep to himself. ADDENDUM: Just rewatched this and points off for the horrible selfish thing that Maddie does at the end.
So, another strong series. Let’s see what I think of series three soon.