The master of seemingly impossible crime solving has been on and off our tellies for over 15 years now, and much has happened in that time.
When we first encountered Jonathan Creek (Alan Davies) in 1997, he was working as a designer of magic tricks, living in a windmill and sporting a duffle coat. Now in 2014, he has settled down, got married to a woman named Polly (Sarah Alexander) and is working in an office and no longer wearing his old trademark garment. In terms of location, this is something later exploded in this new series and best not delved into further.
This new three-part series still has the same mix of crime detection and trademark comic writing from David Renwick, who also wrote One Foot in the Grave. During the course of the series, an actress starring in a rather shoddy stage musical adaptation of a locked-room mystery becomes the victim of a locked room mystery herself; and a retired mentalist seemingly predicts the lottery numbers fifty years before the draw took place.
Some of the stories are noticeably easier to solve than others. In the first episode, with the aforementioned actress in the locked-room, the viewer actually knows quite a lot about the case in advance. In fact, the story is less about the viewer trying to solve it and more about how the other characters are trying to get to the bottom of everything. This episode has already been noted for its mocking take on Sherlock, with Jonathan having to work alongside a forensic student and wannabe detective who is similar to Benedict Cumberbatch’s interpretation of the character.
As indicated above, the humour is still a strong point; and not just the Sherlock parody. Ranging from unflattering portraits to cases of mistaken identity, from projectile vomiting to what might be seen as Victor Meldrew-esque suffering at the start of the series when Jonathan tries to stop people filming a stage show on their mobile phones. The characters are also entertainingly comic. Sarah Alexander’s Polly is rather similar to the role she had as Dr. Angela Hunter in Green Wing: seemingly perfect and slightly annoying. It’s a style that has worked before and works again. The second episode also has plenty of good comedy acting talent, including John Bird, James Bachman and New Zealand stand-up Jarred Christmas.
Overall, this new series of Jonathan Creek is nice return to form. The only real issue is that if you’ve not seen Sherlock, some of the references will be hard to spot and thus some jokes may fall flat.
4 / 5
Series 5 of Jonathan Creek starts on February 28 on BBC 1 at 9pm