CASE HISTORIES, Series 2, (2013). This ITV-produced British mystery television series is set and filmed in Scotland. The first series received its BBC TV debut in 2011, and was seen in the United States on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery. The second series aired in the U.K. on BBC in 2013, now makes its U.S. debut. Edinburgh-based private investigator Jackson Brodie, an emotionally-damaged former soldier and Edinburgh cop, finds himself tracking lost cats, wayward spouses, and killers on the run. And he does a lot of running himself to escape the memories of his traumatic past. The productions are based on the bestselling, award-winning novels by Kate Atkinson; the series was created for TV by Ashley Pharoah, (LIFE ON MARS). The series consists of three episodes. It contains nudity, violence and coarse language and is intended for mature audiences only.
Brodie (Jason Isaacs, HARRY POTTER, THE PATRIOT) is just trying to make a living. He has a hard time collecting his debts and paying his bills, but no shortage of clients, since he can't overlook a wrong or say no to a person in need. This character-driven series also stars Amanda Abbington, (AGATHA CHRISTIE'S POIROT, SHERLOCK), as DC Louise Munroe, seemingly the last Edinburgh cop still talking to her former colleague, and Zawe Ashton, (FRESH MEAT), as Deborah Arnold, Brody's longsuffering assistant. Millie Innes plays Brodie's daughter Marlee; Kirsty Mitchell, ex-wife Josie, Natasha Little, (KIDNAP AND RANSOM), his ex-lover actress Julia Land. Some of his clients are parents looking for children; some children, looking for parents. Some are concerned with the past; some, with the future. The women in Brodie's life don't seem to offer him much peace, either. Series star Isaacs, a Golden Globe® and International Emmy® nominee, ably plays Brodie as a moody, damaged but still tough guy with a soft heart. He carries the series with empathy, a realization of the terrible cost of violence to its survivors as well as its victims, and biting Scottish humor.
Episode 1: Started Early, Took My Dog
The investigator agrees to help a handsome young Australian woman. She had been given up for adoption, has returned to Edinburgh to find her real parents. His investigation leads him to a 35-year-old secret; carrying it has troubled everyone involved. Brodie must decide whether to let the law take its course or do what he thinks best for a child.
Episode 2: Nobody's Darling
A pretty young nanny hires Brodie to see if her employer/fiancé is cheating on her. During his inquiries he is also hired by the man's ex-mother-in-law, who suspects the fiancé of having murdered her daughter. A straightforward investigation turns into a cold case. Marlee, Brodie's pubescent daughter, moves in with him; his home life gets difficult.
Episode 3: Jackson and the Women
The women in Brodie's life give him a tough time. He takes on two new cases. A teenage boy asks him to investigate the murder of his mother, killed on Christmas Eve when her boy was three. A family hires him to locate their missing 19-year-old daughter. What he discovers in both is painful for all parties, but particularly painful for Brodie. He makes decisions that are costly for him but give the two young people a chance to move forward.
The characterizations are deep and complex in these three stories, as are their plots, yet the suspense never lets up. The Scottish settings are occasionally tourist-beautiful, Brodie seems to do most of his running around Arthur's Seat or on the beach; but they are usually in gritty, little-seen corners of the country's capital. Can the series be characterized as tartan noir? I think so. Sex, in your face violence, dark Scottish humor. And what is tartan noir when it's at home? Written by a Scot, of course, and containing the above-cited ingredients. At any rate, I found the series powerful, satisfying, surprising and gripping; involving in its emphasis on family relations, particularly those with/of daughters, as was the first series. And, as I recall, the Atkinson book on which the TV treatments are based, CASE HISTORIES. (Oddly enough, I was given that book as a birthday present upon its publication, but remember that I didn't quite care for it, though I don't remember why. I certainly wouldn't consider the underlying books tartan noir, they're much too literary for that. ) Nevertheless, I quite liked the first series of this production, which I reviewed on its web site, and in this house, we love this one.