Cribb  [DVD]
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All 13 episodes of the classic series written by award-winning crime writer Peter Lovesey, starring Alan Dobie as Victorian Detective Sergeant Cribb. Known for his wry sense of humour, Cribb is the backbone of Scotland Yard's newly formed Criminal Investigation Department aided, and sometimes hindered, by the faithful Constable Thackeray (William Simons). In 'Swing Swing Together', Cribb and Thackeray are called in to investigate when students out for a midnight swim witness a body being dumped in the river. In 'Abracadaver', the sleuths are trying to trace the saboteur of a music hall show. 'The Detective Wore Silk Drawers' sees the detectives uncovering the world of bare-knuckle fighting after a headless corpse is discovered in the river. In 'The Horizontal Witness', the discovery of a body in a brothel leads to the investigation of the murder of a London crime lord. In 'Wobble to Death', Cribb and Thackeray are on the case of a murdered participant in the world Pedestrian championships. In 'Something Old, Something New', Thackeray is asked to be best man at the wedding of an old family friend - but Cribb discovers that several of the young bride's previous elderly husbands died in mysterious circumstances. 'A Case of Spirits' sees Cribb and Thackeray investigating the theft of a valuable painting. In 'Mad Hatter's Holiday', parts of a murdered woman are turning up at various locations all over Brighton. In 'The Last Trumpet', a female protestor who was involved in demonstrations against the transportation of an elephant to Regent's Park Zoo is murdered. In 'The Hand That Rocks the Cradle', Cribb and Thackeray look into strange events concerning the prince's nursemaid at the time of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. 'The Choir That Wouldn't Sing' sees Cribb suspecting the involvement of an entire village after the murder of an army Colonel. In 'Murder, Old Boy', Cribb and Thackeray find themselves investigating a murder after attending an old boys' reunion. 'Invitation to a Dynamite Party' sees Cribb infiltrating a London dynamite gang.
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I have to disagree with the previous reviewer, in that Sergeant Cribb is neither stylish nor dour. Cribb elevates sarcasm to a high art form throughout, and bullies his companion Constable Thackary mercilessly.
The series itself is stylish however. The lavish sets and costumes and well crafted music are a joy. All the plots, writing and performances are first rate.
It is undoubtably an expensive purchase, but I recommend that you at least put it in your wish list or considerer a second hand copy.
I would highly recommend this trip down memory lane.
Never fear - the series far exceeded my expectations, and can be recommended strongly. The series is remarkably true to the books, not least because Alan Dobie is spot on as Sergeant Cribb, whilst William Simons is equally well cast as Thackeray. The adaptations capture the clever plotting and the wry humour of the original books.
Peter Lovesey began his writing career with 'Wobble to Death', a remarkably original novel set against a bizarre but authentic sporting background, and went on to write seven more books featuring Sergeant Cribb. Of these, 'Swing Swing Together' is my personal favourite, whilst the last book in the series, 'Waxwork', won particular critical acclaim.
Before filming the series, 'Waxwork' was produced as a pilot - the main shortcoming of this box set is that this programme is missing. For the series proper, this left a canon of seven books for adaptation, to which Granada added a further six stories specially written by Peter and Jacqueline Lovesey.
My favourite episodes here are 'Swing Swing Together' and 'Wobble to Death'. In the former, Cribb and Thackeray seek 'three men in a boat' in the very summer when Jerome K Jerome's newly-published classic was being emulated en masse along the Thames. The result is an engagingly charming story, beautifully portrayed here.
'Wobble to Death', too, is a highpoint, helped by a typically excellent performance by Michael Elphick. I also particularly enjoyed 'Mad Hatter's Holiday', set against a realistic background of summer holidays in Victorian Brighton. Of the stories specially written for the series, most are very good.
This is not the most lavish or technically-advanced detective series you'll ever see but, courtesy of great scripts, solid production and some excellent performances from Alan Dobie, William Simons and others, it's quality entertainment. Great stuff. (Apologies for the pun in the headline!)
Most recent customer reviews
ALAN DOBIE BEST BRITISH ACTOR IN MY VIEW