on 2 May 2014
Series 1-3 were incredible must see television, to the point where I can't go a month without watching at least 2 or 3 episodes from these series. Caroline Quentin and Alan Davies were a match made in heaven, the storylines teemed with mystery, comedy and drama.
Quentin left and Julia Sawalha came in and started brightly with the special, Satans Chimney. This was a good episode, and Carla (Sawalha) and Jonathan had a bit of chemistry. Series 4 continued with Carla by Jonathan's side, and was very hit and miss. Adrian Edmondson was an excellent addition, and some of the stories very good, however the overall feel of the series had changed and had lost some of its magic.
JC took a well deserved rest from our screens for a few years, when it was announced there would be an Easter special, the grinning man. I was worried going into this episode, but I need not have been as it was a cracker. Sheridan Smith was added as Joey Ross, JC new sidekick. The storyline was arguably the best of them all, the mystery the most intriguing, with lots of juicy red herrings along the way. I am not sure even Quentin could have improved this episode.
Then the next special the Judas tree came out. This episode was not as good as the grinning man, but was still very good.
The Savants thumb was the next special, and in truth was quite poor. JC has grown up, sold out and is now living a very mundane life, being hen pecked by Polly (Sarah Alexander), whilst holding down a boring office job. This special laid the track for the forthcoming series, it did though retain the essence of JC by giving him some mysteries to solve.
Finally we have series 5, it is terrible. No mystery, no comedy, no master villain, no soul. Sarah Alexander looks so out of place as Creeks wife, Creek looks so out of place in the little village he has found himself in. The mysteries for the viewer are non existent. There is none of the spirit of the first 3 seasons and no redeeming feature for this series. I will add it to my collection just to complete it but do so with a heavy heart.
I hope Renwick leaves JC alone until he can create storylines as good as series 1-3 or the grinning man. After the success that was the Grinning man, I though we would get the odd special every 2-3 years when he has an idea, I hope he considers this now.
If you are new to the show entirely then definitely watch series 1-3, they are arguably some of the best British TV of the last couple of decades.
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.
on 3 May 2014
Perhaps the most perplexing mystery in this series, is why one of the episodes, tells you all the solutions to the puzzle at the beginning of the episode! It's about as suspenseful as a wet rag. It seems like everyone here is just going through the motions without any fun or passion. The cast and the writers are better than this and maybe they should move on.
on 28 March 2014
As a little boy, I was simultaneously enchanted and terrified by Jonathan Creek, which featured spooky storylines about impossible crimes that genuinely seemed to be unfathomable. I distinctly remember feeling butterflies in my stomach whenever the answer was revealed. I think we all fell in love with this awkward magician's assistant (Alan Davies) clad in duffel coat with a hilarious larger-than-life sidekick (Caroline Quentin). I've followed him since, always enjoying Mr. Creek's endeavors right up to The Clue of the Savant's Thumb last year. When Series 5 was announced I was absolutely ecstatic, but I was soon to be completely smacked in the face...
In an almost blasphemous change of format, the first episode reveals the mystery's solution within the first ten minutes, completely obliterating the entire point of watching the rest, which merely consisted of weak mini-mysteries and a huge long-running 'gag' about pointing fun at 'Sherlock'. While I've never disliked Maddy, Carla or Joey (Creek's previous sidekicks), Polly Creek (Sarah Alexander) just has the completely wrong attitude for Creek's adventures and serves more as a killjoy whenever Jonathan feels like getting back to his roots. The worst thing about this episode is that if the format was as is normal, it might actually have been a really fantastic episode, but it seems they were too busy poking fun at other programs to realise that they were actually making a terrible episode themselves.
The second episode was slightly better, but extremely weak on the mystery front, which focused on lots of little mysteries happening in the middle of the village where Jonathan and Polly now live. By the end of the episode, I really couldn't care less what the solution to the main mystery was, and I found myself voicing 'Meh!' when it was revealed.
I have to say however that I very much enjoyed the third episode, which returned to the original format quite well despite the lack of murder that the other episodes also suffered from. The performances were better and although the solution was a bit of a stretch, I found the butterflies in my stomach sensation returning!
However, one semi-good episode out of three simply isn't good enough, especially for Jonathan Creek. What has happened to the magic that I used to cherish as a kid? Why are complex 'impossible' situations and mind-bendingly banal murders taking back seat and paving way for country village politics, middle-class dinner parties and whimsical anecdotes? For the most part, the butterflies in my stomach were replaced by a deep-seated disappointment that lingered for hours.
I'd love to see Jonathan Creek return (and Maddy Magellan for that matter) in a new season, but Polly needs to go, actual 'impossible' murders or crimes need to come back and the magic just needs to be breathed back into it!
on 13 May 2014
This is the worst of a deteriorating series. I certainly will not add to my collection.
Ever since they married him off and put him into business management the series has dramatically worsened.
Three below par episodes make for an unwelcome addition to the series. Bizarre format changes see Jonathan sitting on the sidelines during the first two episodes and the mystery is all but absent. The third episode found some form but it was massively contrived and still very weak. I'm glad Maddy left, I thought she was horrible and of his subsequent pairings I found Sheridan Smith to show the most potential. Sarah Alexander has been saddled with some rotten character traits; unlike the viewer, she doesn't appreciate her husband or his talents at all and the time has come and gone for her to have a Damascan revelation. The whole premise has gone to pot, the reason he's so good at deconstructing mysteries is his background in magic and the screenplays make no reference to that at all. Don't get me wrong, I though the supposed comedic philandering of the stage magician the weakest part of each show; but Jonathan's immersion into the world of master magicians was the reason he can do what he does. I always wondered why they didn't incorporate some of the rich pickings of famous conjurors and their tricks. I can't see another series being commissioned without some hefty format reversals. If you like JC as I do then you're bound to watch this, just keep your expectations really low and have an older episode standing by for afterwards.
on 3 March 2016
A plea to David Renwick, the greatest TV writer of the last 25 years:
Please, please, go back to the drawing board and make Jonathan Creek the masterpiece it once was.
In 2009 Caroline Quentin said she would happily return to the show if asked (you can view this on YouTube). Whatever happened 16 years ago, put it behind you and bring her back for a finale.
This fifth "series" barely even qualifies as a series. Three dreadful episodes, none of them either mysterious nor funny. The formula your millions of fans adored simply cast aside. The first episode in particular is an appalling "Columbo" type story in which we as viewers ALREADY KNOW the solution to the mystery (such as it is) and then watch Jonathan work it out. What were you thinking?
The second episode is simply a string of whimsical half-baked plots strung together featuring oddball characters from the village in which Jonathan now lives. The lottery winner storyline was intriguing enough - the rest of it was just genuinely dull.
The third episode at least features a death, and an excellent appearance from the wonderful Josie Lawrence. But the solution is absurd, involving a watch which just happens to fall from a tree in a storm in someone's hoodie - preposterous and silly.
David: perhaps after the best part of 20 years of Creek, you simply ran out of workable ideas. There are only so many "locked room" mysteries in the world. Perhaps you should have called it a day after "The Grinning Man", which was a really terrific special, albeit with a solution that doesn't stand up to any rational scrutiny. Everything since then has been a colossal disappointment.
To end Creek with this shockingly bad trio of episodes is a travesty - this memorable show deserves so much better. I beg you to remind us once again why this show was unmissable and give it one more try.
on 11 April 2014
Jonathan Creek was one of the real standout TV series when it first started- imaginative yet believable plots and a dynamic pair of leads. Sadly, this all changed when Caroline Quentin left. There have been an ongoing set of female sidekicks since then, which should have worked because every one of them has been played by excellent actresses, but the show has never recaptured the height of its early years. The latest incarnation sees Jonathan married and trying to settled down, but plagued by mysteries. It's become lacklustre and pedestrian. On the basis of this, I hope this is the last series because it's become a shadow of its former self and, frankly, reruns of "Rosemary and Thyme" are more entertaining because they don't pretend to be anything more than disposable nonsense.
on 17 March 2014
Like most Jonathan Creek fans, I was delighted to hear that an entire fifth season (albet 3 episodes) had been commissioned for this year.
I was not, however, expecting the quality of the show to have nosedived so spectacularly in such a manner. It really beggars belief that such drivel could have been approved for a prime time slot on BBC televsion. It seems as if the episodes have not even been proof read or checked for quality. On the evidence of this series, it would sadly appear that Jonathan Creek has reached the end of the line, scraping the barrel - there are no ideas left anymore. The first episode is simply appalling, there isn't even a proper mystery as there had been for the previous 28 episodes. I don't know how to describe the first episode, it is fragmented, disorientating and nauseating to watch. The Second episode is more of the same, with Sarah Alexander an intensely irritating presence, subduing the henpecked Creek. The only reason I have given the item 2 stars is that the third episode is marginally better, but still presents a pitiful shadow of what this show used to be.
Gone is the windmill, the duffel coat, the genuine humour, all the quirks that made the show to charming and appealing. In its place, there is excessive and childish background music. Most of the time I felt as if I was watching a mystery series aimed at 10-14 year old children on CBBC, due to the child-like glittery musical backing.
On this evidence, Renwick and friends really have run completely out of ideas. Creek used to be one of the best shows on terrestrial televsion. No Creek fan will ever be able to forget the intelligent and baffling mysteries in episodes such as 'Danse Macabre', 'Jack in the Box'. 'Black Canary' or 'Satan's chimney'. Sadly, the latest offerings are more like something from a drab episode of Midsomer Murders or some other third rate mystery series set in a rural upper-middle class village.
I really do hope that Creek will continue, but in order to do so there will need to be quality writing, with intelligent storylines and a partner with whom Creek has genuine chemistry (such as Caroline Quentine). I tried writng to the BBC to relay to David Renwick how disappointed I was with this series, but there wasn't an option to provide feedback for this individual programme. I hope that here at least, some of the people involved in this series will be able to see how disappointed genuine Creek fans are with this half-hearted and half-baked effort.
on 19 March 2014
I love Jonathan Creek, however, this series is simply awful. There are no real Creek mysteries, just a collection of little puzzle page-esque mind benders, most of which have ridiculous solutions such as: a watch falling from a balloon into the hood of a woman who does not realise it's there when she puts her hood on and which miraculously gets so entangled in her hair it stays there until she goes to bed...
One of the most annoying moments was the Columbo-esque episode where you know the solution and watch Jonathan figure it out.
In short, these episodes are full of fillers and have no substance.