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R.I.P Jonathan Creek.
on 21 July 2014
When it was announced that Johnathan Creek was returning for a new series, I had mixed feelings. It comes from the fact that the previous ‘special’ episode, The Clue of the Savant’s Thumb, had been the poorest entry into the shows history. It was everything the show should not be, a complete inversion of its nature. Even so, the fond memories I have for the original series persuaded me to give the show another try, just in case the last episode had been a one-off dud. My hope was that this new series of adventures would point the character and show back to its original direction. Does it? The short answer is no. The long answer is no, no, no, no, no, no, NO! This series cements the fact that the show has been twisted at its very core, and what’s worse, it tries to make this out as a good thing!
Series five is a big disappointment. It may have some charms and highlights, but the show has become a disaster. The Johnathan Creek I admired has gone. In this fifth series, he has become a lifeless shell, a lobotomised shadow of his former self. Gone is the windmill, the interest in magic acts and the classic duffle coat. Instead, this Johnathan-imposter is a married man, living in the city and working as a high powered businessman who wears a suit. Yes, that is right. Johnathan is seen many times in a suit and tie. It is the very definition of unnatural! What is worse is that the show tries to make this ‘grown-up’ version of Johnathan look like a good thing. Well I tell you what, Mr Renwick (The normally wonderful writer of the series) it is not! There is a feeling that perhaps he wanted to write another series, but couldn’t be bothered and just mashed the idea up with Johnathan Creek. Both the character and the show have lost a great amount of charm and substance, which I fear Mr Renwick has no intention of returning.
The actual episodes themselves also lack when it comes to their storytelling. The first changes the usual structure of the show by having very little mystery, in a poor man’s ‘Colombo’ style story. The next two are a little better, but they still feel very weak in their writing, especially when compared to past series. For a show consisting of hour-long episodes, the pace is remarkably slow in each. The mystery and intelligence of the series takes a back seat, and too often they explore Johnathan’s new life, which lacks interest or valid reason.
To be fair though, there are some good elements of the series which I should point out. It still holds a dark humour, the supporting cast are passable (Josie Lawrence shines in her Episode Three role) and the gothic house Johnathan and Polly (His wife, played by Sarah Alexander) move into actual makes for a suitable replacement to the classic windmill. Sarah Alexander herself is a good actress, and her character isn’t even that bad, considering the situation. It would have actually been interesting to have seen how she would have got on with the Johnathan of old. Alas, in the end she is simply another symptom of how the show has lost its way.
If this is the last Johnathan Creek series, then it is a sad way for the show to bow out. And yet, I also fear a sixth series or another special. Watching this series is like watching a dying animal. I hope that the BBC either return the series to its former quality, or lets the show end. Do not let it suffer in its current state anymore.