Columbo s03e04 Double Exposure (1973) – 7/10 crime detective murder mystery TV review

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Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Robert Culp: Dr. Bart Kepple
Robert Middleton:
Chuck McCann:
Louise Latham: Mrs. Norris
Director: Richard Quine
Writer: Stephen J. Cannell
Series Creator: Richard Levinson
Series Creator: William Link

Columbo s03e04 Double Exposure (1973)

When Dr. Bart Kepple, an expert on human psychology, murders Vic Norris, a man who is about to expose the doctor and his blackmailing ways, using every psychological trick in the book – Columbo – as much an expert but wearing his cunning disguise of a shambling idiot – has to use techniques he never even knew existed.

7/10

"Alright Lieutenant. I’ll play."- Dr. Bart Kepple underestimating, of course, Lieutenant Columbo

Good Columbo with several terrific scenes where Columbo attempts to out-psychologise (if that’s a word!) Robert Culp’s psychological expert. Culp trying to ignore the be-macced maestro cresting a hill in a golf cart is the opener to a fantastically clever scene where Columbo, using only a long-distance phone call, proves Culp knows a certain woman; Columbo deliberately not giving Culp the directions to a murder location is also an absolute joy. The use of sublimal image theory is a little suspect but not any less fun and it’s nice to see slack-jawed admiration for Columbo from the murderer when he is finally caught.

This Columbo episode contains violence, adult dialogue

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Columbo s03e08 A Friend In Deed (1974) – 7/10 crime detective murder drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Richard Kiley: Deputy Commissioner Mark Halperin
Rosemary Murphy: Margaret Halperin
Michael McGuire: Hugh Caldwell
Val Avery: Artie Jessup
Director: Ben Gazzara
Writer: Peter S. Fischer
Series’ Creator: Richard Levinson
Series’ Creator: William Link
Producer: Edward K. Dodds
Executive Producer: Roland Kibbee
Executive Producer: Dean Hargrove

Columbo s03e08 A Friend In Deed (1974)

When a man ends up throttling his wife during a heated argument about her extra-marital affairs, he goes to his friend Mark for help. Mark helps him out by providing him with an alibi and making the scene of the crime look like she disturbed a burgler. If anyone can help him cover it up, it’s Mark: Police Deputy Commissioner Mark Halperin.

7/10

Solid episode with good reasons for Columbo to become suspicious that everything is not as it seems (a folded nightie under a pillow, a complete lack of fingerprints including the victim’s and an unanswered phone call). Murder She Wrote writer Peter S. Fischer supplies a terrific conclusion – one of the series’ best – requiring Falk to go from his what’s-going-on face to his you’re-the-murderer speech; which he does perfectly, of course. In fact, if Fischer could have come up with some nice little Columbo moments (he has trouble with his car but there’s nothing to work with) to augment the strong, clever plot, this could have been the best Columbo ever. As it is, it’s clever, logical and the climax is completely unforeseeable and a total joy.

This Columbo episode contains violence, mild adult dialogue

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Sad Cypress (2003) – 7/10 period murder mystery detective drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Screenplay Writer: David Pirie
Elizabeth Dermot Walsh: Elinor Carlisle
Rupert Penry-Jones: Roddy Winter
Kelly Reilly: Mary Gerard
Paul McGann: Dr. Peter Lord
Phyllis Logan: Nurse Hopkins
Producer: Margaret Mitchell
Director: David Moore
Actor and Associate Producer: David Suchet

Agatha Christie’s Poirot Sad Cypress (2003)

A poison pen letter is brought to Poirot’s attention and though he takes it very seriously, it’s not enough to get a body exhumed for further investigation. Shortly thereafter, a murder is committed and Poirot returns only to fall short once more as a woman is sentenced to death for a crime only she had the means, motive and opportunity to commit. Yet the little grey cells refuse to settle.

7/10

"I am thirty-six times an idiot!" – Hercule Poirot

This is a nicely staged production with a good sense of atmosphere and a beautifully-judged pace. There is just enough information given to the audience for them to have worked out the mechanics of the murder themselves but no way for them to derive the motive. This isn’t a mystery where everywhere has means, motive and opportunity – only one has; Poirot’s challenge is to see that there was, in fact, another. The screenwriter’s challenge is to help the audience see that and what he does is quite interesting. Though the clues regarding the true murder are there, the audience is highly unlikely to perceive them. The only reason they will consider that Elinor Carlisle isn’t guilty is because whomever we are told is guilty in these murder mysteries is always innocent. And so, unlike Poirot, we don’t need to find another motive because we already presume that she is innocent.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains unexpectedly unpleasant nightmare scene

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot s05e06 The Chocolate Box (1993) – 7/10 period detective murder mystery TV review

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Cast / crew
Writer (Original Short Story): Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Chief Inspector Japp: Philip Jackson
Writer (Dramatisation): Douglas Watkinson
Rosalie Crutchley: Madame Deroulard
Anna Chancellor: Virginie Mesnard
Director: Ken Grieve

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s05e06 The Chocolate Box (1993)

Poirot returns to Belgium for the first time in years to accompany Japp who is being honoured by the Belgian government. While there, Poirot is reminded of a case that didn’t go his way and he decides that the time is right to reveal the truth.

7/10

It’s terrific to see a young Poirot skilfully brought to life by David Suchet with his normal weight and gait and a bit of running around and a bit of extra hair on the toupé. Dramatiser Douglas Watkinson does well in structuring the story and there’s plenty to like, especially with Poirot as a burgler and his constant lack of discretion. I did chuckle happily at the scene where Poirot is asked for, not by name but, "by moustache." Even though Hastings isn’t here, there’s a lovely feeling of friendship with Poirot accompanying Japp to an award ceremony in Belgium. While the setting and atmosphere are terrific, the colour blindness that is at the heart of the detective story climax doesn’t convince. Even if pink looks green and green looks pink, couldn’t you still tell whether a lid and a box were the same colour? Regardless, a good episode.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s10e04 Taken at the Flood (2005) – 7/10 period crime detective drama TV review

Cast / crew
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Screenplay Writer: Guy Andrews
Jenny Agutter: Adela Marchmont
Patrick Baladi: Rowley Cloade
Eva Birthistle: Rosaleen / Eileen
Elliot Lowan: David Hunter
Amanda Douge: Lynn Marchmont
Penny Downie: Frances Cloade
Claire Hackett: Beatrice Lippincott
Supt. Harold Spence: Richard Hope
Celia Imrie: ‘Aunt’ Katy Cloade
Nicholas Le Prevost: Major James Porter
Tim Pigott-Smith: Dr. Lionel Cloade
Elizabeth Spriggs: Mrs Leadbetter
Pip Torrens: Jeremy Cloade
Tim Woodward: Enoch Arden / Charles
David Yelland: George the Butler
Producer: Trevor Hopkins
Director: Andy Wilson

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s10e04 Taken at the Flood (2005)

When the Cloade family can’t get financial support from their father’s widow – a very young American actress that none of them had met before the marriage – they, rightly, blame her extremely controlling brother. As their lives were predicated around a certain amount of income, having it cut off has brought them into desperate straits but then it appears that the young actress was married before and her first husband didn’t die. The Cloade’s enlist the help of family friend and world’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot – no, not Batman – to find evidence of bigamy. Naturally, as soon as Poirot takes on the case, someone dies.

7/10

After awkward character introductions, Guy Andrews’ adaptation improves on some details of Christie’s novel while retaining the plot that sees deaths cleverly disguised as other kinds of deaths and revelling in the energetic odiousness of the Cloade family of suspects. Acceptable changes include how Rowley identifies Arden, the nature of the explosion and Rosalie and Lynn’s fate at the end. The cast is good, especially Elliot Lowan as David Hunter and David Suchet’s Poirot is a cheerful presence.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains adult dialogue, bad language, substance abuse, violence, gory and unpleasant scene

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Columbo s01e02 Death Lends a Hand (1971) – 7/10 crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Robert Culp: Brimmer
Patricia Crowley: Lenore Kennicut
Ray Milland: Arthur Kennicut
Director: Bernard L. Kowalski
Producer and Writer: Richard Levinson
Producer and Writer: William Link

Columbo s01e02 Death Lends a Hand (1971)

Columbo investigates the death of Lenore Kennicut – a young woman accidentally killed by a private detective, Brimmer – but then her husband hires Brimmer to find the murderer.

7/10

Reasonable little murder mystery which, unlike most subsequent episodes, does not feature a ‘perfect murder’ scenario but does feature the quality that made the show so special: the joy of Columbo stalking his prey. Guest star Robert Culp is an agreeably superior baddie and special guest star Ray Milland adds a bit of gravitas but, as usual, Peter Falk is remarkable as our eponymous hero. This time around the murder was not premeditated and the death of the victim was accidental. Columbo still tumbles to the guilty party as soon as he is introduced but only confirms how at the very end.

This Columbo episode contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Doctor Who S34E03 A Town Called Mercy (2012) – 7/10 science fiction wild west adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Toby Whithouse
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Saul Metzstein
Andrew Brooke: The Gunslinger
Adrian Scarborough: Kahler-Jex

Doctor Who S34E03 A Town Called Mercy (2012)

The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in the America old west town of Mercy and find it, and now themselves, under siege by a cyborg, Gunslinger, who wants them to give him the alien doctor.

7/10

This is better than the previous two episodes with a plot that very nearly engages. The crux of the plot is the Doctor needing companions to balance out the soul-sapping weariness of being alone and that is clearly communicated. While the concepts are interesting and worthwhile, the plot suffers from familiarity and a complete absence of atmosphere. Director Saul Metzstein’s Dinosaurs on a Spaceship episode also had no atmosphere. However, there’s some fun lines this week (‘Tea… Leave the bag in.’, "I speak horse. He’s called Susan.") and the plot does raise thought-provoking questions about companionship and redemption, vengeance, justice and second chances.

This Doctor Who episode contains violence.

Links

Columbo S04E04 Troubled Waters (1975) – 7/10 Columbo crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Peter Falk: Lieutenant Columbo
Robert Vaughn: Haydn Dansiger
Jane Greer: Sylvia Dansiger
Dean Stockwell: Lloyd Harrington
Bernard Fox: Preston Watkins
Robert Douglas: Dr. Pierce
Patrick MacNee: Captain Gibbon
Poupée Bocar: Rosanna Welles
Director: Ben Gazzara
Writer (Screenplay): Bill Driskill
Writer (Story): Jackson Gillis
Writer (Story): Bill Driskill
Writer (Series’ Creator): Richard Levinson
Writer (Series’ Creator): William Link
Producer: Everett Chambers

Columbo S04E04 Troubled Waters (1975)

Mrs. Columbo has won a cruise aboard a luxury boat, er, ship, but her husband’s detecting skills are quickly called upon… to find her. Then early one morning a cabaret singer is found shot to death and Columbo starts doing what he does best.

7/10

Classic Columbo, well-paced and directed with a more solid story than usual (even though it doesn’t always look like it) and history’s longest rendition of Volare. Columbo’s detecting abilities seem to be less miraculous here than in other weaker episodes, we get the same clues as he does (the feather, specifically) and you can see why and how he pieces things together. Falk’s brilliance as Columbo can never be overstated and we get some classics in this episode. Columbo unexpectedly freezing mid-detection (due to seasickness), a queasy Columbo suddenly snapping into steely-eyed alert upon spotting an incongruous detail (a feather outside Robert Vaughn’s door), sneaking to Vaughn’s room when the body is brought into sick bay (the timing is genius) but even he… cannot use a magnifying glass the right way around. This is tremendous fun and baddie Robert Vaughn plays his part to perfection. His slow realisation that Columbo has got him is an absolute delight.

This Columbo episode contains violence, unpleasant scene.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Columbo S01E05 Lady in Waiting (1971) – 7/10 detective drama TV review

Cast / crew
Peter Falk: Columbo
Susan Clark: Beth Chadwick
Jessie Royce Landis: Mother Chadwick
Richard Anderson: Bryce Chadwick
Leslie Nielsen: Peter Hamilton
Director: Norman Lloyd
Writer (Screenplay): Steven Bochco
Writer (Story): Barney Slater
Writer (Series’ Creator): Richard Levinson
Writer (Series’ Creator): William Link
Producer: Everett Chambers

Columbo S01E05 Lady In Waiting (1971)

When a woman murders her restrictive brother, she claims it was self-defense and the Coroner and Coroner’s Jury believes her. However, Columbo’s suspicions were raised by one little thing – the presence of an evening newspaper – and when he gets hold of something like that, he never lets go.

6/10

Well-paced Columbo with a good murder sequence and a satisfying opponent. She stops Columbo asking her one more question (though he claims he wasn’t going to anyway) and SPOILER even thinks about shooting him in the end. An unruffled Columbo gets out of that in his typically pleasant manner and it’s a nice end to a good episode. Especially in this last scene but as he would always be, Falk is outstanding. Nobody gets hassled by a small dog like Columbo.

This Columbo episode contains violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Agatha Christie’s Poirot S01E08 The Incredible Theft (1989) – 7/10 period crime drama TV review

Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Hugh Fraser: Hastings
Philip Jackson: Chief Inspector Japp
Pauline Moran: Miss Lemon
Writer (Dramatisation): David Reid
Writer (Dramatisation): Clive Exton
John Stride: Tommy Mayfield
Carmen Du Sautoy: Mrs Vanderlyn
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Edward Bennett
Executive Producer: Nick Elliott
Executive Producer: Linda Agran

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s S01E08 Incredible Theft, The (1989)

Poirot is invited to make sure that aircraft plans vital to national security aren’t stolen but, wouldn’t you know, they are.

7/10

"But we must put on it a brave face, heh, and not allow cheerfulness to keep breaking through!" – Hercule Poirot

A lot to enjoy with Poirot in particularly good spirits. The mystery isn’t for anyone who watches these kind of things regularly but it’s the cheerfulness that provides the entertainment. Hastings gets a great scene moaning about Japp’s bedroom habits and, as already mentioned, Poirot is in a fun mood; teasing Miss Lemon, happily polishing his shoes, satisfyingly bristling at being called a “froggie” and even stealing police cars. As a bonus for boys, there’s an explosion and an useful car chase. Poirot finishes with the above sarcastic sentiment but it’s intriguing to see that a lack of cheerfulness, or even humanity, would characterise and undermine the poorer episodes of this classic series.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Links

Agatha Christie’s Poirot S05E04 The Case of the Missing Will (1993) – 7/10 period murder mystery drama TV review

Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Hugh Fraser: Captain Hastings
Philip Jackson: Chief Inspector Japp
Pauline Moran: Miss Felicity Lemon
Writer (Dramatisation): Douglas Watkinson
Beth Goddard: Violet Wilson
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: John Bruce
Executive Producer: Nick Elliott

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s S05E04 Case of the Missing Will, The (1993)

The day before he is due to make a new will leaving his entire fortune to his beloved ward Violet, Andrew Marsh dies. Poirot, who would have been the executor of the new will, smells a rat. When the time comes for the will to be read, however, even the old will cannot be found and Poirot’s suspicions are confirmed.

7/10

"I have been stumbling around in a darkened room. But now I see the light." – Poirot, accompanied by an entirely baffled Hastings.

Writer Douglas Watkinson generously shares the spotlight which is, of course, most unusual in a hero detective drama; Miss Lemon is served particularly well with a critical grammatical observation and a related reveal during Poirot’s summation while Hastings gets to impeccably and authoratively, in the nicest possible manner, discover and guard the crime scene. The finger of suspicion dots around gleefully and it’s a credit to Watkinson and director John Bruce that we can comfortably keep track; even making us feel like we’re one step ahead though, of course, Poirot is two steps ahead, just as we want him to be.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains unpleasant scene.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot S03E04 Wasps’ Nest (1991) – 7/10 period murder mystery drama TV review

Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Hugh Fraser: Captain Hastings
Philip Jackson: Chief Inspector Japp
Pauline Moran: Miss Lemon
Writer (Dramatisation): David Renwick
Martin Turner: John Harrison
Melanie Jessop: Molly Deane
Peter Capaldi: Claude Langton
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Brian Farnham
Executive Producer: Nick Elliott

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s S03E04 Wasps’ Nest (1991)

Buzzing, crawling creatures are low on Poirot’s list of favourites things at the best of times but he has even more for his little grey cells to worry about when he becomes convinced that a murder is in the air. If he can solve the crime that has not yet been committed, maybe he can prevent a murder instead of merely catching the culprit. Hastings has taken up photography (and taken over Poirot’s bathroom), Japp has a nasty stomach problem and Miss Lemon is advocating the goodness of her fitness class to Poirot.

7/10

"Good god; this is England. Jealous suitors don’t go around murdering people."

A career high for Poirot as he attempts to solve a murder before it happens. Both the plot and the murder that Poirot attempts to foil are cleverer than they first appear, writer David Renwick gives Poirot and Hastings some choice comedy moments (Poirot trying to move a box and Hastings engaging a pharmacist in conversation) and Poirot’s traditional summation rounds things off nicely.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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Doctor Who: The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe (2011) – 7/10 WWII period science fiction adventure Christmas special TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Claire Skinner: Madge Arwell
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Farren Blackburn

Doctor Who The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe (2011)

World War II: After being helped by Marge Arwell one night, the Doctor offers to return the favour anytime she wishes. When she does call him in, well, nothing the Doctor does ever goes to plan, does it?

7/10

A welcome return to form following the dismal 2011 season finalé which has plenty of energy and connects emotionally. There’s a great start and a lovely finish and there are wonderful concept, character and visual ideas in-, the somewhat predictable, between. Matt Smith is, once more, incredible as the Doctor. He showcases his comic abilities in the spaceman suit, delivers abundant energy in his physicality, machine guns his lines out with pinpoint clarity and then, backed up by Murray Gold’s quality score, cements a viscerally emotive climax. It’s easy to forget that anyone else has ever been the Doctor. That said, it’s disheartening to see planet-wide doom wheeled out once more and one wishes that Doctor Who would deliver some episodes without peril. He doesn’t need it.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Agatha Christie’s Poirot The Clocks (2009) – 7/10 period murder mystery TV review

Cast / crew
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Writer (Screenplay): Stewart Harcourt
Frances Barber: Merlina Rival
Stephen Boxer: Christopher Mabbutt
Tom Burke: Lt. Colin Race
Phil Daniels: Inspector Hardcastle
Beatie Edney: Mrs Hemmings
Guy Henry: Matthew Waterhouse
Anna Massey: Miss Pebmarsh
Geoffrey Palmer: Vice Admiral Hamling
Tessa Peake-Jones: Val Bland
Ben Righton: Constable Jenkins
Lesley Sharp: Miss Martindale
Abigail Thaw: Rachel Waterhouse
Jason Watkins: Joe Bland
Jaime Winstone: Sheila Webb
Producer: Karen Thrussell
Director: Charles Palmer

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Clocks, The (2009)

A typist is booked by a blind woman to be at her house at 3:00pm but when she arrives she finds four clocks set to 4:13. And a dead body, of course.

7/10

Good episode of Poirot because it is, however mildly, fun, a quality that is in short supply in the feature-length adaptations. On top of this, the clues, characters and mystery are presented clearly and kept in focus and, while Poirot does keep a clue away from the audience (a marriage certificate), there are enough other clues to the how and who to get us most of the way there if we’re paying attention. The support cast do a good job with Phil Daniels balancing his character delicately and Tom Burke providing a surprisingly welcome romantic element.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains adult dialogue and brief gory violence, graphic fatal car accident.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

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Doctor Who S33E12 Closing Time (2011) – 7/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Gareth Roberts
Producer: Denise Paul
Director: Steve Hughes
James Corden: Craig

Doctor Who S33E12 Closing Time (2011)

The Doctor pops in to see Craig as part of a ‘farewell tour’ before he dies in a couple of days time but a trio of disappearing people and a some odd power fluctuations mean that he may have to stay and save Earth one last time.

7/10

Fun episode with a generous amount of the Doctor being cool ("I speak baby", "Here to help") and just enough shape and story to the running around to be satisfying. The homosexual dialogue feels ostentatiously normal (as in look at how normal we treat homosexuality; it’s just like a heterosexual family unit but with two dads and look how normally we reacted to it, we didn’t pull a face or anything, normal, normal, normal, see) but completely undermines itself by having Corden’s character ‘hilariously’ try to explain that he wasn’t the Doctor’s partner in that sense of the word. Homosexuality isn’t normal. It exists, but it isn’t normal. If you believe in God, he condemns homosexual acts and urges you to exercise self-control. If you believe in evolution, homosexuality leads to extinction.

This Doctor Who episode contains homosexual references and unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot s02e05 The Cornish Mystery (1990) – 7/10 period crime detective murder mystery TV review

AmazonBuy The Cornish Mystery at Amazon

Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Captain Hastings: Hugh Fraser
Chief Inspector Japp: Philip Jackson
Miss Lemon: Pauline Moran
Writer (Dramatisation): Clive Exton
Chloe Salaman: Fred Stanton
John Bowler: Jacob Radnor
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Edward Bennett
Executive Producer: Nick Elliott

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s02e05 The Cornish Mystery (1990)

Mrs. Alice Pengelley arrives in London to confess to Poirot that she believes her husband is poisoning her. Poirot takes the case and tells her that he and Hastings will follow her to Cornwall the following day. When they arrive, however, Poirot is horrified to find that she died shortly before their arrival.

7/10

Poirot is never really presented with clues or a mystery so dramatiser Exton has to concentrate on the character bits and pieces to make it entertaining. He succeeds. David Suchet gets an awesome scene with a doctor who keeps interrupting him (you can literally see all the sentences piling up inside Poirot’s face, it’s wonderful) while revealing that Belgium has a thing against rice. Hugh Fraser’s Hastings displays an improvised brilliance (in the confession scene) that truly impresses Poirot and gets his best “I say!” of the entire series and probably the best in the entire history of the world. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Suchet is the ultimate Poirot but Hugh Fraser is the ultimate Hastings.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Links

Agatha Christie’s Poirot S05E03 Yellow Iris (1993) – 7/10 period murder mystery TV review

Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Hugh Fraser: Captain Hastings
Pauline Moran: Miss Lemon
Writer (Dramatisation): Anthony Horowitz
David Troughton: Barton Russell
Dorian Healy: Anthony Chapell
Geraldine Somerville: Pauline Wetherby
Yolanda Vasquez: Lola
Robin McCaffrey: Iris Russell

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s S05E03 Yellow Iris (1993)

Poirot is perturbed when a restaurant called Le Jardin de Cygnes opens in London on the same day he receives a yellow iris at his apartments. He knows it is a reminder of a two-year-old murder which he could not solve due to circumstances beyond his control but it looks like he may have another chance.

7/10

Splendid Poirot with a terrific prologue and epilogue (“the English do not have ‘cuisine,’ they have food”) though the central mystery does seem short on clues and the memorable methodology was also used in the far more widely known SPOILER Sparkling Cyanide (Agatha Christie’s own novelisation of this short story). Still, what I absolutely love about these hour-long episodes is the relationship between Poirot and Hastings. They are so clearly the best of friends, it’s just lovely to see; here Hastings didn’t let Poirot not joining him in Argentina bother him. It’s so rare to see positive relationships in dramatic screen productions and it gave Poirot a uncommon identity and emotional connection that future filmmakers have seemed to overlook.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains mild adult dialogue and unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Doctor Who 33.09 Night Terrors (2011) – 7/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Mark Gatiss
Producer: Sanne Wohlenberg
Director: Richard Clark
Daniel Mays: Alex
Jamie Oram: George

Doctor Who 33.09 Night Terrors (2011)

The Doctor responds to a distress call from a small boy who is terrified of just about everything but the parents’ advice and actions to put all the scary things in the cubpoard may backfire.

7/10

This is certainly a scary episode with some agreeably disturbing transformations and a plot that works quite well as long as you don’t ask where the deadly dolls came from.

This Doctor Who episode contains scary and unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Doctor Who 33.07 A Good Man Goes to War (2011) – 7/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Peter Hoar
Alex Kingston: River Song
Frances Barber: Madame Kovarian
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Cybermen: Kit Pedler
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Cybermen: Gerry Davis
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Silurians: Malcolm Hulke
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Sontarans: Robert Holmes
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Ood and Judoon: Russell T. Davies

Doctor Who 33.07 Good Man Goes to War, A (2011)

7/10

Tightly written and irresistibly paced as the Doctor (who doesn’t even appear for the first twenty minutes) conspires to subdue, without bloodshed, an asteroid stronghold defended by two armies. His late appearance proves thematically important as the fear of his reputation as someone who will bend time, space and anything else he wishes to his will is just as powerful as his presence. It’s an intriguing backbone to all the sci-fi ‘splosions and shooting. It’s cool to see all various races back and the acting is a little more consistent from the non-Matt Smith cast than it has tended to be this season. While, the series-motif of constantly blurting into tears is rather more justified here, it still seems rather turn-on-and-off-able.

This Doctor Who episode contains violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Doctor Who 33.04 The Doctor’s Wife (2011) – 7/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Producer: Sanne Wohlenberg
Director: Richard Clark
Suranne Jones: Idris
Michael Sheen: Voice of House

Doctor Who 33.04 Doctor’s Wife, The (2011)

The Doctor takes Amy, Rory and the Tardis out of the universe in response to a distress signal from another Time Lord. Surely he’s dead, but it must be followed up. Very soon, with Amy and Rory in great danger, the Doctor will wish he hadn’t responded but a woman in a cage proves to be a priceless, never-to-be-repeated encounter.

7/10

Toying with expectations that we would learn more about SPOILER River Song, this is an interesting episode with a surfeit of cool, thinking-out-the-universe ideas. Some of the acting is a bit amateur-hour though. Early on we have insane ramblings (which is never, ever convincing on-screen; it should be unsettling, but it just looks like a school play) and, for the climax, all our lead actors jarringly turn on their waterworks like a switch. Fortunately, this episode has connected better emotionally than the last one and we’ll let them off this time. To end on a high note, there is a monstrously good gag regarding the bedroom the Doctor made in the Tardis for Amy and Rory: SPOILER he’d installed a bunk bed! “Bunk beds are cool.”

This Doctor Who episode contains mild adult dialogue and unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Jonathan Creek s03e05 Miracle in Crooked Lane (1999) – 7/10 black comedy crime mystery TV drama review

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Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Executive Producer and Writer: David Renwick
Benjamin Whitrow: Rupert Clifford-Wright
Dinah Sheridan: Kathleen Gilmore
Nicholas Ball: Vincent Rees
Hetty Baynes: Jacqui
Tom Goodman-Hill: Jeff
Emma Kennedy: Christine
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Richard Holthouse

Jonathan Creek s03e05 Miracle in Crooked Lane (1999)

Still reeling from meeting the Jonathan Creek fan club, Jonathan looks into the miraculous appearance of a woman having a chat with a neighbour; only the woman was in a coma in hospital at the time.

7/10

Quickly dismissing the idea of a doppelganger, this solution falls into the genre of trick that takes a huge amount of work to produce the desired effect. As such, the solution is pretty difficult to predict and, indeed, the misdirection regarding the crime impressively complete. Creek gets to meet his terrifying fan club while the best scene is him disappearing from in front of someone’s eyes in the middle of a field (a trick that only works on TV, though, as in real-life we have ears). Maddy and Creek also wind up having sex (off-screen, thankfully) which is, as the characters themselves acknowledge, all wrong.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains mild swear words, adult dialogue, nudity, gun violence

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

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Jonathan Creek 3.03 The Omega Man (1999) – 7/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Caroline Quentin: Maddy Magellan
Writer: David Renwick
John Shrapnel: Prof. Lance Graumann
Michael Brandon: Captain Frank Candy
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Keith Washington
Executive Producer: David Renwick

Jonathan Creek 3.03 Omega Man, The (1999)

Maddy gets a scoop on the discovery of an extra-terrestrial skeleton but the U.S. Army swoops in and takes the evidence for themselves. When they return to the base, however, and open the truck, the skeleton has disappeared.

7/10

There are some nice jokes and you’ll never guess precisely how the alien skeleton disappeared but your first thought won’t be too far off the mark. (SPOILER You’ll probably think of an ice statue that melts but it’s clearly not ice; it is frozen mercury which becomes liquid at room temperature.)

This Jonathan Creek episode contains mild swear words.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Jonathan Creek 1998 Christmas Special Black Canary (1998) – 7/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Caroline Quentin: Maddy Magellan
Writer: David Renwick
Rik Mayall: D.I. Gideon Pryke
Hannah Gordon: Marella Carney
Kate Isitt: Charlotte
Francis Matthews: Jerry Bellinitus
Murray Melvin: Lionel Prekopp
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Sandy Johnson

Jonathan Creek Xmas 1998 Black Canary (1998)

Maddy and Creek investigate the suicide of the mother of an old flame of Jonathan’s but there are complications. First of all the last person to be seen talking to her left no footprints in 4-inch deep snow, secondly the fatal shotgun wound to the head, according to pathology reports, happened five hours before it was witnessed happening and third, she was already dead from an overdose of drugs. Fortunately, the police detective assigned, D.I. Gideon Pryke, appears to have a bit of savvy and may not even need Jonathan’s help in solving the mystery.

7/10

Renwick’s ability to come up with small pieces of business that add flavour and interest to his already intriguing plots is unmatched. The first is the gender of a sergeant, the second being Rik Mayall as that most unusual of characters in the amateur-detective series, an intelligent police official. On top of these two main themes, there are many other things to enjoy; Jonathan Creek’s magician ogling a young costumier, his frog suit, his trip to hospital; Creek locking his car door when he sees an enormous ugly man walk up to the car next to him; a suitably horrific saw-the-woman-in-half trick that goes bloodily wrong. The spark of life that is supposed to be delivered by Caroline Quentin (and is not) has obviously been playing on the mind of writer / executive producer David Renwick and producer Verity Lambert and the solution proved to be the casting of Rik Mayall as an intelligent and as-clever-as-Creek police official. He pops up, smarms, charms and grins his way around the screen; an irrepressible ball of energy. Also of note in the cast is Sanjeev Bhasker as the doctor who has the pleasure of delivering the film’s final and, perhaps, best gag to round things off nicely.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains adult dialogue and gory and unpleasant scenes, extremely horrific scenes (more so than you’re expecting with a pg), very strong gun violence, attempted suicide.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Jonathan Creek s04e04 The Seer of the Sands (2003) – 7/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Carla Borrego: Julia Sawalha
Writer: David Renwick
Adrian Edmondson: Brendan Baxter
Lorelei King: Geraldine Vaccara
Jonathan Kydd: Mickey Daniels
Eve Polycarpou: Andonea
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Sandy Johnson

Jonathan Creek s04e04 The Seer of the Sands (2003)

(from official web site)

Justin Mallory – “ghost hunter” and investigator into the spirit world – is a man dedicated to exposing fraud and exploitation in all its forms. But when he dies in a tragic boating accident and his body mysteriously disappears, is it possible that he has been wrong, and that his spirit is desperately trying to communicate with his lover Geraldine? Once again, Jonathan Creek and Carla Borrego try to solve the mystery.

7/10

The plot and gags are fiendishly imaginative and unpredictable but one wonders why we had to have an F-word, courtesy of the inexplicable source of most of this series’ unpleasantness, Adam Klaus. Yet the mix of the incredibly macabre and the very funny is probably at it’s apex in this episode. The SPOILER dwarf bodyguard is a great gag in itself but it leads to a gag so macabre, so unexpected, so grimly funny, it really is awesome. Additionally, revelations about how street magicians do their business and the difference between the reality and the edited television presentation are enlightening.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains a single sexual swear word, bad language, unpleasant scenes, macabre scenes

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

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Jonathan Creek 4.03 The Tailor’s Dummy (2003) – 7/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Julia Sawalha: Carla Borrego
Writer: David Renwick
Adrian Edmondson: Brendan Baxter
Maureen Lipman: Louise Bergman
Nicholas Jones: Claude Bergman
Jill Baker: Donna Henry
Victoria Shalet: Carrie Bergman
Bill Bailey: Kenny Starkiss
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Christine Gernon

Jonathan Creek 4.03 Tailor’s Dummy, The (2003)

When a leading but aging fashion designer throws himself out of an upper storey window to his death, presumably after reading an extremely harsh review, it is viewed as a tragedy. The grieving family, however, take matters into their own hands and force the journalist to literally eat her own words at gunpoint. At one point, the gunman has to remove his mask after an allergic reaction to some flowers in her room and can be clearly identified as Claude Bergman, the designer’s son. When the gunman is apprehended leaving the room, however, the mask is removed to reveal not Claude but an unknown black man.

7/10

A couple of sweet gags are icing on the cake of a really solid episode with two mysteries, both wonderfully ingenious, with one serving as an audience misdirection for the other. He presents the audience with all the same clues as Creek but you’re not going to determine all the answers. However, Renwick does include a slightly odd white slavery subplot (featuring Bill Bailey) to fill the time and, most oddly, he resolves it in favour of the baddies.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains mild swear words and repeated graphic suicide jump including impact and some genuinely world class décolletage.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

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Jonathan Creek 4.02 Angel Hair (2003) – 7/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Julia Sawalha: Carla Borrego
Writer: David Renwick
Adrian Edmondson: Brendan Baxter
Jack Dee: Dudley Houseman
Sophie Thompson: Dorothy Moon
Tamsin Greig: Pam
Caroline Carver: Sally Ellen Oakley
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Christine Gernon

Jonathan Creek 4.02 Angel Hair (2003)

When a jealous wife drags her love rival across the lawn by her long, blonde hair it makes the discovery of a video tape of her own faked kidnapping utterly baffling. It was clearly recorded just a day or two earlier and she has all her beautiful long, blonde hair shorn off.

7/10

Rather more fun than the previous episode, this is decent entertainment. The unexpected gags this time are really, really good (SPOILER they both involve ventriloquist’s dummies) while the kidnapping plot is good enough and the sideplot with a woman (Tamsin Greig) on the rebound from losing her dog is excellent fun. Jack Dee struggles as a morose adulterous husband who married a musical sex icon but doesn’t get to see that when she gets home and takes her make-up off and puts her baggy clothes on. It’s a really interesting topic but Dee’s unconvincing performance overwhelms the thought-provoking reality.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains strong adult dialogue, mild swear words and violence and sexuality.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Links

Jonathan Creek s02e04,05 The Problem at Gallows Gate (1998) – 7/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

AmazonBuy The Problem at Gallows Gate at Amazon

Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Executive Producer and Writer: David Renwick
Clarke Peters: Hewie Harper
Jennifer Piercey: Kitty
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Keith Washington

Jonathan Creek s02e04,05 The Problem at Gallows Gate (1998)

Adam Klaus’s sister witnesses a woman being strangled and is certain she can identify the killer if she sees him again. Except the man she identifies committed suicide three weeks earlier.

7/10

This double episode takes ages to deliver the mystery, the whole of the first episode, in fact, but keeps things bubbling with some useful comedy including a jazz trumpeter who was blind but secretly had corrective surgery (a good laugh when he walks in on a naked Jennifer Pearcey on a sunbed) and a good gag for Caroline Quentin after her flat is burgled ("it took me ages to get it straight again"). There’s not quite enough mystery for a double-episode (SPOILER we never believed the suicide was real) and the how-dun-it reveal in someone’s kitchen feels completely wrong. That said, the solution certainly turns out more interesting than expected as what we saw wasn’t what we thought we saw; very clever (SPOILER trying to make someone vomit, not trying to strangle them).

This Jonathan Creek episode contains nudity, suicide, violence

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

Jonathan Creek 2.01 Danse Macabre (1998, Black Comedy Crime Mystery) – 7/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Caroline Quentin: Maddy Magellan
Writer: David Renwick
Peter Davison: Stephen Claithorne
Pippa Haywood: Lorna Claithorne
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Sandy Johnson
Executive Producer: David Renwick

Jonathan Creek 2.01 Danse Macabre (1998)

A murderer and his hostage are cornered in a free-standing stone-walled garage with automatic security lights on all sides. He closes the garage doors and the area is almost immediately surrounded by police. Fifteen minutes later, the police open the doors… and only the hostage remains. The murderer has vanished.

7/10

I discerned the central plot mechanic almost immediately but I can’t decide whether that’s good or bad. It was so impossible that there could only be one explanation (something Renwick highlights when he reveals the original plan didn’t feature it). There’s the satisfaction of getting the solution right with the mild disappointment of not being outwitted by the writer. However, Renwick does keep one macabre twist up his sleeve with the victim’s head and another ethical twist with the reason for the murder. I dislike Pippa Haywood as an actress and this is a near-intolerably unconvincing performance from her, especially when she’s being emotional. Director Sandy Johnson keeps it crisp but doesn’t successfully distract the audience from the fact that Creek worked out the solution as soon as he heard the scenario but didn’t get around to telling anyone else for a couple of days to pad out the running time.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains adult dialogue and extremely unpleasant scene and non-sexual nudity.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Jonathan Creek s01e04 The Reconstituted Corpse (1997) – 7/10 black comedy crime mystery TV review

AmazonBuy The Reconstituted Corpse at Amazon

Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Executive Producer and Writer: David Renwick
Director: Marcus Mortimer
Kika Mirylees: Zola Zhzewski
Producer: Susan Belbin

Jonathan Creek s01e04 The Reconstituted Corpse (1997)

A woman is accused of killing her plastic surgeon after she wrote a tell-all book that he wasn’t happy about. Maddy investigates and manages to stumble across an alibi for her but then things take an unexpected twist and the mind of Jonathan Creek is required to unbaffle the impossible.

7/10

There’s no reason for Caroline Quentin’s Maddy Magellan to be involved in the investigation and it takes half-an-hour before the hook kicks in but when it does (SPOILER a body miraculously appears in a wardrobe) it’s, as Creek himself says, "a good one, isn’t it?" and the remaining twenty minutes fly by. The solution is impressively / distressingly mundane which is frequently the case with ‘impossible’ scenarios. Because the outcome is so astounding, you assume the cause must be astounding. This episode also contains one of the most unusual scenes ever filmed: a taxi driver giving change to a passenger.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains adult dialogue, mild sexual nudity, gun violence, unpleasant scenes

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

Jonathan Creek 1.01,02 The Wrestler’s Tomb (1997, Mystery Black Crime Comedy) – 7/10 TV review

AmazonBuy The Wrestler’s Tomb at Amazon

Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Executive Producer and Writer: David Renwick
Anthony Stewart Head: Adam Klaus
Director: Marcus Mortimer
Colin Baker: Hedley Shale
Saskia Mulder: Francesca Boutron
Sheila Gish: Serena Shale
Producer: Susan Belbin

Jonathan Creek s01e01-02 The Wrestler’s Tomb (1997)

A burglar seeks the help of an investigative journalist (!) to help him get out of a murder he didn’t commit. The problem is that the person with the most obvious motive, the wife of the adulterous victim, was inside a thirteenth-floor office at the time of the murder and hadn’t left all morning.

7/10

Unfortunately filmed as a star vehicle for the irritating Caroline Quentin (meaning she get’s the Poirot how-dun-it speech at the end and is bafflingly portrayed as romantically enticing), this opening episode for classic murder mystery show Jonathan Creek also features one of its weaker solutions. Not that you’ll guess it, despite your best efforts, and that’s critical. Much more discussion of the plot would be a giant spoiler but the important thing is your mind is invested in trying to work out how someone shoots her husband without leaving a thirteenth floor office. Director Marcus Mortimer employs a naughty false flashback but otherwise does an efficient job. Writer David Renwick gifts Alan Davies a character that ticks all the maverick cop cliché boxes (without making him a cop) and crafts a number of tidy gags including a great Steadicam joke ("It gets rid of jerks." "So does Clint Eastwood but I don’t want to strap him to my chest.") and an irate husband hoovering Jonathan’s face.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains mild adult dialogue, sexuality, nudity in paintings, unpleasant scenes

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

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