It’s been a busy week on the box for crime drama. Sherlock returned to much acclaim/horror (delete as applicable) but so did Endeavour, the Morse prequel, Midsomer Murders, Father Brown, that pathology thing that I’ve forgotten the name of – Silent Witness, that’s it and Death In Paradise. More from Death In Paradise later – that earns its own post – and if you think I watched Silent Witness, you don’t know me very well. But what about the opening episodes of Endeavour, Midsomer Murders and Father Brown?
Well, Endeavour was dealing with a girl spirited away and murdered from a fairground and a bunch of insufferable toffs, Barnaby was up against a body snatcher and Father Brown was on the set of the cheapest looking horror movie ever made? But would they catch their killers? And which was the best of the three?
Endeavour first. Morse is sulking after the events of the last episode of season two – with good reason – but hiding out in a shack on a lakeside near some unbearable rich types (old student friends of his) really seemed out of character. He’s abandoned his girlfriend from the previous series – she does get a cameo, but nothing more, which was a shame – but needless to say, he gets drawn into the case anyway. As we know he’ll rejoin the police force, there’s not a vast amount of tension in that strand, but the cardinal sin is the plot. Not that it’s weak, just that it’s been seen before. And in an obvious way. It’s a bastardised version of The Great Gatsby – they don’t even try and hide those roots – and something that if I name it will give the game away. It’s ironic really, given something that someone else said recently… But it just felt lazy – let’s hope with Morse back at work properly next week things will pick up. The central cast (especially Shaun Evans and the wonderful Roger Allam) did sterling work with what they were given, but let’s hope they’ve got something a bit more original next time.
Now off to Midsomer Murders. Point one – body snatching is not murder. Just saying… Admittedly, I was looking the wrong way for a fair chunk of the tale, distracted by the decent actors being given a ludicrous plot to play out. Oh, and by the way, subplots need closure too. Just saying… The fate of the estate and the people living on it needed to be addressed in the closing minutes – we’d worked out where Betty’s pink teddy bear was going after five minutes, although should Barnaby be worried about how it got in the car? But the plot was one of the more inane ones of the series. If this is the one to open the series, then I worry about the rest of them. I’ll probably still watch them though – which is possibly the biggest mystery of them all. Come to think of it, I know the answer to that – the central cast, with the new addition of Manjinder Virk as the new forensics/pathologist. Always watchable and make the biggest pile of nonsense almost palatable. And this was the biggest pile of nonsense.
And Father Brown with its ecclesiastical inconsistencies easily walks off with the title. It’s fun, inconsequential but much more thought had gone into the plot. Not convinced the method would have worked, but for all the slightly wooden acting in places, the lack of resemblance to the work of Chesterton and the clearly low budget, this was a lot of fun. Mark Williams really is doing a good job as the clerical sleuth and thinning the supporting cast since last I saw it helps it as well. And, pay attention Midsomer, every subplot was tied up by the end. Not sure about the comedy policeman, but I’ll be checking out the rest of the series when I get the chance.
That’s all for now – Death In Paradise tonight (and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which I must write about at some point) so more from Doc On The Box soon.