Monday, 24 March 2014

TV Reviews: Creme de la Crime

Jonathan Creek came to an end about a week ago, and in terms of structure, and the bizarre nature of events which befall its protagonists, it is moving more towards David Renwick's other show, "One Foot in the Grave". There is a mystery element, but it is exceedingly slight, and no longer the pivot around which the whole episode revolves. This is disappointing, because the Christmas special showed the magic touch that we have come to expect. Unfortunately, these three episodes fell very flat, despite a rather neat effort to lampoon Sherlock.
The difference, I suppose, is that Sherlock is still built around one big story, which Holmes and Watson have to solve. It is true that it has the familiar mainstay of modern television, the story arc, but each episode can be relished more or less as stand along. And for sheer plot, it just blows Jonathan Creek away.
The Mentalist has returned post-Red John, and with a different team, it suddenly seems rather tired, plotting by numbers, with no sense as yet that there is any major threat lurking in the background which can surface. It will be interesting to see the episode where one of the original team is kidnapped, as the reviews suggest that the suspense is palpable. And what happened to the natty suits and clean shaven Patrick Jane - he's now definitely sporting designer stubble, looking rather like he's a bit run down, rather like the series.
Meanwhile, the other thriller in police drama, Line of Duty came to an end this week, in a story which divided viewers. I rather liked it; it explained the motivations of DI Lindsay Denton's actions, and filled in the gaps we didn't know. Justice was not wholly served, and the documentary style ending with photos and information about the characters added to that sense of realism. It has been a compelling roller coaster, a return to the "wait a week" cliff-hangers that many thought were consigned to the past. Most series with parts broadcast over successive nights, but this bucked the trend. I liked the unresolved threads left (for series three?), and the ambiguity which mirrored real life.
Real life is not what one has in Bergerac, of course, which ends a rather swiftly curtailed run on BBC2 early next week. It is the series three when Bergerac and his wife get on better, and I always thought it was a shame that this line was rejected in favour of him getting another girlfriend. Of course, the reason for the curtailment was the filming of series four onwards at Haut de La Garenne, and the BBC being sensitive to issues involving child abuse. Episodes of Top of the Pops have also not been shown where they involved Jimmy Savile. It is a wise decision. Many children were abused at Haut de La Garenne, and the Historic Abuse Inquiry is about to begin.
What Bergerac does so well, mass murder of millionaires and gangsters excepted, is to show a Jersey that has now been all but lost. We can see the harbour, when it was the old and charming harbour, full of character, and not the building sites and ugly buildings that tourists have to pass by nowadays. The Sealink boats remind us of when there were boats which linked up to train timetables - do they now under Condor? I doubt it, because there has been no advertising of that fact. St Brelade's Beach was full of tourists, and I remember beach combing for left over buckets and spades at the end of the holiday season, when they'd be left behind. And the old airport building, in much more innocent and less dangerous days, had a viewing platform on the flat roof close to the control tower, which even had one of those beachside telescopes.
Law and Order has returned, with a finely judged performance from Bradley Walsh in particular. The police team has altered, the legal team has altered, but Bradley as DS Ronnie Brooks remains resolutely at its core, giving a feel of authenticity - those glasses, that grey and rumpled mac - that a series like this needs.
Meanwhile, at the weekend, I caught up with a film I have never seen before - "The Day of the Jackal". It is a superbly watchable film, and it is not afraid to take its time as the Jackal, portrayed wonderfully by Edward Fox, prepares all the fine details that he will need for a successful assassination of Charles de Gaulle. On the other side, the meetings, the police thinking, and procedures, all lend it a ring of truth, giving it at times an almost documentary feel - we are eavesdroppers on behind the scenes police work. It was Frederick Forsyth's debut novel, shooting him to millionaire status, and rather like ""The Eagle has Landed", it doesn't matter that we know that the core target survives; it is the cat and mouse game between the Jackal and police which drives the story and makes it so compelling.

1 comment:

James said...

No mention of Shetland? There's a series that really is worth watching.