Jonathan Creek - Series 1 and 2 
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Jonathan Creek is a master of illusion. Deviser of magic, creator of miracles, Jonathan creates spectacular stage stunts from his home a mysterious windmill in the heart of the country. His brilliant analytical mind penetrates the darkest corners and cracks the trickiest of puzzles. But no showman, he lurks backstage while his boss Adam Faust steps in the limelight. Then Jonathan meets unorthodox crime journalist Maddy Magellan, who soon discovers another use for his extraordinary talent solving murder by magic. The hottest partnership since Mulder and Scully, Jonathan and Maddy investigate crimes which seem to have no rational explanation. He is a bit of a nerd but he also a bit of a quick-witted genius. Maddy Magellan is an investigative crime writer, and the pair join forces to solve seemingly impossible crimes. Theres a fair element of the Columbo in here how did-they-do-it as opposed to whodunit but with plenty of twists, so its never quite that simple
'The Wrestler's Tomb'
A celebrated artist has been killed, with a beautiful model bound and gagged by his side. The police are baffled so it is just as well that Jonathan Creek accidentally spears Maddys hand with a cocktail stick
'Jack in the Box'
Veteran comedian Jack Holiday has committed suicide. But how did a man with crippling arthritis manage to hold a gun to his head? And how was Jonathan duped into another of Maddys "grisly murder investigations"?
'The Reconstituted Corpse'
A plastic surgeon is murdered. The police suspect Zola Zbzewski, his ex-lover who is publicizing her book on how he gave her the perfect body. But then Zola is found dead in baffling circumstances
'No Trace of Tracey'
A teenage girl disappears at the mansion of 70s rock god Roy Pilgrim. In the bizarre world of former rock legends, Jonathan seems a lot happier than Maddy; but then she was always more of a Percy Sledge girl.
'The House of Monkeys'
Elliot Stranges husband has been murdered in a locked room with bars on the windows and the chief suspect is a gorilla! Cue Jonathan and Maddy
The Halloween murder of a best-selling writer could have come straight from her own chillers. Jonathan is busy with an opera-singing stripper and a bath, so has Maddy learned enough about the illusory arts to solve this case alone?
'Time Waits For Norman'
The husband of Maddys literary agent has been photographed eating in a local hamburger bar. Slightly odd for a vegetarian very odd for a man who is adamant he was in America at the time
'The Scented Room'
Jonathan knows how a million pound painting was stolen. But after a bad review from the paintings owner, even a £50,000 reward and a begging Maddy cant persuade the moody magic man to tell
'The Problem at Gallows Gate, Part One'
When Jonathans badger watch becomes a murder watch the intrigue is only just beginning the man seen strangling a young woman had plunged to his death just weeks earlier.
'The Problem at Gallows Gate, Part Two'
As Jonathan develops an unhealthy obsession with stockings and Maddy becomes infuriated with his s-less typewriter, they look as unlikely as the police to solve the killed-by-a-dead-man conundrum.
A high profile judge is killed despite his round-the-clock police protection. Could Maddys gothic "pub of death" investigation hold the vital key?
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The first series is perhaps the most satisfying and complete of the 4 so far. This is partly due to the feature length opener that introduces the mainstays of the series in its characters, mystery plots and humour. The way it does this in a carefully paced, confident way which doesn’t rush the set up for the episode or indeed the next three series. The following episodes develop this theme with some detail being filled in about the characters, their respective love lives (such as they are) and their relationship. The obvious tension between the leads is nicely played out over the first 6 episodes with both skirting around the issues until the will-the-won’t they is nicely resolved (for this series at least) with an unfortunate episode with a heart monitor.
The strength of the puzzles in the first series is also worth mentioning. The standard is consistently high and they give substance to the show in its infancy before the characters themselves have developed as the main draws. Finally the humour of the show is pitch perfect drawing strongly on the main character’s traits as well as guess stars and unusual situations - for those who claim the series has become preposterous/gone down hill in later series the sounds of a genial ape using the toilet should remind them the show has always been keen to dwell on the unusual for its stories and humour.
Adam Klauss, Jonathan’s boss and old school magician, is perhaps the most obvious humorous relief. This role was played in the pilot episode by Anthony Head to writer David Renwick’s satisfaction (according to the commentary). However the role as portrayed by another actor has found a sure comic touch which touches on the arrogance of power and money that increasingly leads to humiliation. The dynamic between the quiet genius Jonathan and Adam creates a parallel odd couple relationship in the former’s work life to the one in his personal life (with Maddy). Although Jonathan is superficially subservient in both relationships this is often in direct contrast to where the actual power lies. Each however is based at some level on respect and indeed friendship of different kinds.
The second series develops both the humour of the programme the relationship between Maddy and Jonathan to a point where the mysteries take a back seat to some extent. This is fortunate because the pacing of the show starts to become inconsistent. This is best demonstrated by the Gallows Gate episodes. Here there is twice the time is given over to developing the story. The mystery part of this, although intriguing in parts, is underdeveloped with twists appearing from nowhere and various early bits of the plot dropping away without explanation. At the same time of this the humour is cranked up to 11 (in a good way) with a fully developed sub plot involving Adam, his sister Kitty and a jazz musician driving the plot forward. Compare this to the to tightly plotted last episode of the series which combines two mysteries, a maniac copper and a development of Maddy’s play ground style pursuit of Jonathan.
Overall this is excellent television which has outgrown its British Columbo ambitions by developing durable character relationships and consistently inventive humour.
A note on the DVD and extras. The quality of some of the episode transfers is disappointing and doesn’t live up to the effort put into filming them. Some of the second series looks like its in the wrong format (Gallows Gate 1). The fantastic Christmas special with Ric Mayell is much missed although will probably appear at a later date. The documentary is satisfactory introduction to the beginnings of the show (and Alan Davies’ acting career). The voice over on the pilot episode fills in Renwick’s early perspective on the show. A commentary on an episode from the second series would have nicely closed the circle by explaining how the approach to writing, producing and directing had changed.
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