Thursday, 9 January 2014

Father Brown - BBC TV review (second series)

Father Brown is back. The daytime television update of G.K.Chesterton's stories featuring the little priest who is one of fiction's great detectives has returned for a second series. The first series provoked very mixed reactions. When I wrote this blog post about the show, it attracted a great many comments and also some interesting emails. In fact I received one only the other day from the widow of someone who was involved with the 70s version of the Father Brown stories starring Kenneth More.

The fact that a blog post about a relatively obscure show can prompt such discussion, some of it long after the post originally appeared, never ceases to fascinate me. In fact, that particular post is, to this day, one of the ten most visited posts to have appeared on this blog; quite notable, given that there have been about one thousand eight hundred of them.

Mark Williams returned as a Fifties version of Father Brown in an episode, The Ghost in the Machine, which was not based on one of the original stories. The mixture is very much as before - picturesque settings, multiple suspects and a sort of winsome low-budget charm. The result will again set purists' teeth on edge, but I continue to find this show a sort of guilty pleasure.

I don't care for the term 'cosy' when it is applied to detective fiction. It's often applied to books that are far from cosy. But even I must admit that there is a cosinesss about Father Brown which is part of its appeal. A good watch if you are suffering from poor health, I imagine. Undemanding but light, entertaining fare. The fact that a second series has been commissioned suggests to me that plenty of viewers enjoy it. We're not talking cutting edge crime fiction here, and the connection with Chesterton's original is (and I regret this) remote. But there's room in the world for shows like Father Brown, as well as for more ambitious projects such as Broadchurch.

6 comments:

Clothes In Books said...

Martín: you expressed my feelings about it too - it's a very enjoyable series, even if I have to close my eyes to theological and anachronism problems. And as you say, there is definitely room for such a series amongst the harsher forensic programmes.

Patrick said...

I just ask to be permitted a long, sad sigh.

*sigh*

My thoughts on the series are well-known by now. Nothing has happened to make me reconsider.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Moira, great to hear from you, and yes, some closing of eyes is required! I must get round to contacting Roger Wilkes when I get a bit of free time...

Martin Edwards said...

Hello Patrick, sighing is definitely permitted, not least because I understand where you're coming from - although my own view is different. I saw on your excellent blog that Father Brown was your least favouurite of the year! It could be said that the show is a kind of tv junk food. But then, I know eating chips is bad for me, but I still enjoy eating them every now and again...

Max Marnau said...

The trouble is that it wouldn't take very much effort to get things right, and they get things so very thoroughly wrong. OK, so I am a cradle Catholic, I was around before Vatican 2 and I love GKC; I am also a pedant. But it doesn't take someone like me to suggest that Mark Williams should practise his Latin just a bit more; that the wardrobe department should use vestments appropriate to the period; that they should check at what stage a postulant wears a wedding dress (NOT at first entrance); that it requires a heroic suspension of disbelief that a random murderess is accepted into a religious order without question without any preparation or that a confession would be continued in the presence of a prison warder; oh...and get the liturgical/paraliturgical texts right...aaaargh...!!!!

Paul Huxley said...

Working my way slowly through season 2.

In response to the Max above, surely the greater problem is that this series is (essentially) set in an alternative universe where the vast majority of twentieth-century England is Catholic? That and a murder rate that makes Midsomer look safe.

As a confessing protestant, hosever, I can understand Max's frustration as I can't imagine any Catholic priest ever saying *some* of his lines.

Nevertheless, the second series (as far as I've watched) seems to be an improvement on the first - largely due to a less hammy relationship between the police and the Father.