Wednesday 8 July 2020

Jonathan Creek Revisited

Prime Video: Jonathan Creek, Season 1

For me, as for many people, the lockdown has (among other things) meant more time for writing, reading, and, to a lesser extent, watching television. As far as TV is concerned, I've caught up with a few recent series and also had another chance to enjoy some old favourites. I found, to my surprise and delight, that Ian Carmichael's Lord Peter Wimsey series from the 1970s held up much better than I'd expected, but the greatest pleasure has come from revisiting David Renwick's brilliant series Jonathan Creek.

I've rhapsodised about Renwick's writing and this series in particular on this blog in the past, but what strikes me on a second viewing is just how strong and tightly written the scripts are. One recurrent feature of many series nowadays is that they are excessively long and tend to drag. This is true even of strong series that I've watched lately, such as Sharp Objects, based on Gillian Flynn's novel, and The Hour (which I hope to blog about shortly). But with Jonathan Creek, there's never (or almost never) any padding.

The care with which Renwick writes is evident from the early episodes to the recent shows, such as The Curse of the Bronze Lamp, which I watched again last night. I'd forgotten the story, but on looking back at this blog, I see that I gave the episode a rave review on its original showing, more than six years ago. If anything, I enjoyed it even more the second time around, which is saying something.

I've found that I've forgotten the detailed plots of almost all the stories (except the brilliant Miracle in Crooked Lane) but that doesn't indicate a failure on the writer's part. Rather, I think that Renwick's command of detail is such that it compels attention at the time of viewing while not distracting from the overall pleasure of the character of Creek and the bizarre and deftly handled scenarios - and it's that overall sense of satisfaction and indeed delight that lingers in the memory.

I've been thinking about locked room mysteries a lot recently, partly because of the arrival of a new anthology (I'll talk more about this shortly), partly because I've been reading some more John Dickson Carr, and partly because I've been toying with an idea for a new locked room mystery of my own. Watch this space... 

1 comment:

Jonathan O said...

I've been watching this from the start on Britbox, and it certainly is still very entertaining (even if the "will they or won't they" thing with Jonathan and Maddy is slightly overdone). I did remember most of the plots up to series 2 episode 1 (I remember spotting the solution of this when I first watched it - I suspect most locked-room fans will have done so too) but this didn't spoil my enjoyment.