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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Jonathan Creek: Should it have returned?

BBC/John Rogers
Jonathan Creek made an impressive return to BBC One last night with overnight ratings of 33m/29.2%, over 4m more than anything else at 9pm last night. The return of the amateur detective wasn't without its critics though, with many taking to twitter to complain that the series had "lost its magic."

The main criticism came as writer David Renwick took the unusual step to show how the victim was killed. Surely Renwick hasn't forgotten that the joy in Creek is being utterly bamboozled until Jonathan cleverly unravels the mystery. The unveiling of how the victim met her sticky end robbed viewers of that treat. That's not to say the episode was completely devoid of action, but sadly nothing seem to lead anywhere and as the episode rolled on I too (a huge Jonathan Creek fan from the very start), started to slightly lose faith in the idea of resurrecting a series I had once loved.

The introduction of Sarah Alexander as Creek's wife Polly was a nice touch, but I realised quite quickly that Creek works best when Alan Davies has a sidekick like Caroline Quentin or Sheridan Smith to bounce off of. I can just about cope with Creek not reaching for his beloved duffel coat, but without a sidekick, and a proper mind boggling mystery this felt really flat.

BBC/John Rogers
If I were to find some positives it would be David Renwick's not so subtle jibe at  Steven Moffat by introducing a new character whose deductions were utterly ridiculous. You could almost hear Renwick screaming "WE DID THIS FIRST!" Whilst, the Sherlock references were a funny touch, they used the character too often, meaning the joke wore thin quickly. I think the main flaw here is that Alan Davies didn't have enough to do, any mystery elements on offer weren't strong enough to fully invest ourselves in and it all felt a little old fashioned. I said recently that I wasn't sure if Jonathan Creek would feel dated and out of place in 2014, but I do believe with the right story he prove a worthy adversary for our contemporary sleuths, the problem is this first story didn't deliver that. Although the overnight ratings prove there is still a great deal of affection for Creek I worry this opener may have driven away even the most devoted of fans.

Jonathan Creek Continues Friday's at 9.00pm on BBC ONE.


Unknown said...

David Renwick said a long time ago that he would like to do an episode like columbo (who he says Jonathan Creek is inspired by)and have the mystery revealed at the start.
I've been a fan from the very start and loved this episode as much as all the others. I'm already wishing for a series 6. Long live Jonathan Creek

Anonymous said...

By subverting the format, this episode energised the show, allowing it to evolve into something new. Loved it.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...if only subverting the format had actually made it into riveting viewing.

Unfortunately, dedicating the first 20 minutes to telling the audience what happened in order to take the mick out of Sherlock led to the remaining space being filled with minor, and highly rushed, pointless mysteries.

It hasn't got better in the second episode. It seems that since leaving the windmill and getting married, Jonathan has had to give up on the interesting mysteries and instead is solving little oddities that don't matter. Unfortunately, that just seems to result in confusion and lack of time to explore one good story in depth.

Rather than being his foil, Polly is now written in to be part of the problem, solving the mystery of her bad memory on her own. The Sandman element could have been written out and the episode wouldn't have lost anything by it.

Though I hate to say it, I'm worried that Renwick has lost his touch...

Anonymous said...

Renwick lost his touch years ago. The rot started in Love Soup series 2. Too much happening but none of it either character or plot related. David needs a producer like Verity Lambert (God rest her) to have the balls to say this script is bollocks but alas that's never gonna happen.

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