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 4.05 The Chequered Box (2003) – 6/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Julia Sawalha: Carla Borrego
Writer: David Renwick
Adrian Edmondson: Brendan Baxter
Colin McFarlane: Inspector Fell
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Sandy Johnson

Jonathan Creek 4.05 Chequered Box, The (2003)

As Adam Klaus tries to get in on the endurance magic craze, Creek ambles about his daily life and Carla is following a local police inspector around with her camera. Then Creek learns that a local journalist has taken photos of the inspector removing self-incriminating evidence from the scene of a murder.

6/10

This episode doesn’t start well with a broken gag involving a train vibrating a coffin with Adam Klaus inside and a macabre but lame joke involving decapitated motorcyclists. Macabre but clever, macabre but intriguing, macabre but funny are all fine. Macabre but lame is not. While the murder plots are clever, the contents of the chequered box are unconvincing and this episode appears to be where Renwick dumped all his weakest gags.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains mild swear words and extremely unpleasant scenes.

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

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

AmazonBuy The Seer of the Sands at Amazon

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 s02e03 The Scented Room (1998) – 8/10 black comedy crime mystery TV review

AmazonBuy The Scented Room at Amazon

Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Writer: David Renwick
Bob Monkhouse: Sylvester Le Fley
Christine Kavanagh: Lady Theresa Cutler
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Sandy Johnson
Executive Producer: David Renwick

Jonathan Creek s02e03 The Scented Room (1998)

Hated theatre critic Sylvester Le Fley is not on Jonathan’s list of favourite people but even he can’t resist a good mystery when a very valuable painting of Le Fley’s is stolen in broad daylight from a sealed room in a matter of seconds.

8/10

There’s just enough to pad out the highly entertaining little mystery but the series’ weak point, Caroline Quentin, gets a backstory sideplot to absolutely no positive effect. She even gets a dreadfully supercilious barb to a rich parent ("maybe you can buy him something he really wants: like a life") which really goes contrary to her dreadfully shallow and unconvincing portrayal of her character. You can see her acting constantly. While we instantly believed Alan Davies to be Jonathan Creek we have never and will never believe Caroline Quentin to be an investigative journalist or, indeed, any of her characters. She always appears to be an actress playing a role. Still, the mystery’s great (if a bit tricky to pull off, surely the painting wouldn’t behave and would just roll up and get stuck) and it finishes with a good gag.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains mild swear words, mild adult dialogue and innuendo

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

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Jonathan Creek s02e02 Time Waits for Norman (1998) – 8/10 black comedy crime mystery TV review

Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Executive Producer and Writer: David Renwick
Dermot Crowley: Norman Stangerson
Deborah Grant: Antonia Stangerson
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Sandy Johnson

Jonathan Creek s02e02 Time Waits for Norman (1998)

Another mystery for Jonathan Creek when the husband of Maddy’s publisher appears to have been on two continents at the same time.

8/10

Imaginative and entertaining mystery. We love it when writers are cleverer than and surprise us and this is one of Renwick’s strengths. Renwick manages a couple of goodies in this episode. First is the comedy reveal regarding Creek’s amorous encounter with a tax inspector (SPOILER “Didn’t you get suspicious when you were running your fingers through her hair and she wasn’t even in the room?”) while the crime mystery features a note (“Oh, when I know to free hate, to sever no one”) whose meaning is brilliantly simple and ingenious (SPOILER it’s a phone number, read it out: 0190 238 2701). The explanation of the whole mystery is also delightfully impressive.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains mild unpleasant scenes of a burned foot, substance abuse (methylated spirits)

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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 s01e06 The House of Monkeys (1997) – 6/10 black comedy murder mystery TV review

AmazonBuy The House of Monkeys at Amazon

Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Writer: David Renwick
Director: Sandy Johnson
Annette Crosbie: Ingrid Strange
Executive Producer: David Renwick
Producer: Susan Belbin

Jonathan Creek s01e06 The House of Monkeys (1997)

A family friend of Jonathan’s is found dead in a room locked from the inside. While that indicates suicide, the samurai sword impaled through his back rather indicates murder.

6/10

The big problem with having gorillas in your story is that the audience immediately thinks ‘why have they got someone in a gorilla suit walking around the place?’ Even if it’s a terrific suit and performance, and this is, it still never feels like a gorilla. It appears to exist largely for a great bathroom gag (SPOILER) though the gorilla does also provide a clue in the death. While the episode uses an impressive misdirection to confound matters the murder eventually feels horribly straight-forward and plausible (SPOILER poison on the lickable gum of a self-addressed envelope).

This Jonathan Creek episode contains adult dialogue, bad language, sexuality, very unpleasant and slightly gory scenes

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

Links