Jonathan Creek is back on our screens for a fifth series after a decade off. Fans everywhere rejoice!
The fifth series picks up where last year’s Christmas special left off: Creek has abandoned his windmill and his job working for magician, Adam Claus and traded it all for a corporate job in advertising and marriage to a beautiful but arguable unsuitable wife. But we’ll return to that later.
Making direct digs at it’s closest competing show, Sherlock, which also famously features a timeless hero whose lateral-thinking and deductive reasoning appears to give him almost a sixth sense; Jonathan Creek comes out of retirement to solve a mystery in which a theatre actress is apparently stabbed to death in her locked dressing room, being forced to take a friend’s flamboyant criminology-student-son, Ridley, along with him. Though in predictable but deliciously David Renwick comic style, he makes a bunch of observations which lead to laughable and direly untrue deductions.
And like Columbo, the “mystery” is never presented. We are shown in the opening twenty minutes what we usually wouldn’t be shown until the final ten. So we know how the seemingly impossible crime was committed to start with. This makes for an unusual but interesting show while the B and C stories about Creek’s father-in-law present mild mysteries which are easily solvable by any die hard fan with a bit of thought.
With no mystery as the key driver to keep an audience hooked, there was more Renwick comedy than fans will be used to. From the opening gag about modern theatre facing the threat of modern technology to the actress who is the subject of the mystery later puking off the stage down a tuba in orchestra pit which then inevitably gets blasted into the air and rained down on the stage.
It was a watchable hour of TV though for a show that is returning after a decade it would have been fair to expect an opening episode to show off a bit more by presenting the best of what the show is known for – an impossible mystery.
Then there’s the question of Creek’s wife, a character who we first saw in only the most recent Christmas special. It is quite difficult to believe that a man like Jonathan Creek could attract a woman like this. They apparently have nothing in common and she has no admiration whatsoever for what is certainly Creek’s greatest gift and genius. To be fair, the show has never really survived the loss of Caroline Quentin after series 3 but it is the relationship between Creek and his sidekick that is missing from the 4th series and the later Christmas specials. If the show is to make a convincing come-back, this is an issue that needs addressing.
If we leave Caroline Quentin’s acting talent out of it for a minute – which isn’t fair because she brought a lot to the role, but if she doesn’t want to come back we have no choice – we find that what makes a relationship like this work is two single people brought together by a common goal, one in awe of the other and an irresistible dose of sexual tension. Will they get together? Won’t they? After a few series’, audiences beg for this stuff.
As a die hard fan myself, I am prepared to give it another couple of episodes before I declare that “Jonathan Creek just isn’t what it used to be” but I dare say some critics and fans will not. And I would rather the show just end than have to face the indignity of decline.
Please impress me next week!