Friday, January 09, 2009

A Creeking Jonathan

It was a terrifyingly high number of years back that I first saw TV's Jonathan Creek. I remember the first series.....and the second. As I remember, it was a witty and fairly intelligent programme with explainable (almost plausible) plots.

In fact, I was still ensconced in my first marital home back in the distant 1990s when I first watched, and enjoyed, the show.

Most readers will know that Mrs The Millbrooker and I are television free; we do own a set, but there's no outside reception and we neither have nor need a licence. On very rare occasions, though, we have been known to download something from BBC iPlayer. We saw all of the first series of Ashes to Ashes in that way. We saw the first series of Life On Mars, belatedly, in the same manner.

Last night we thought we'd sit and vegetate to the new Jonathan Creek; we watched "The Grinning Man" feature length episode. All two hours of it.I've rarely wasted two hours on such utter tosh; but let's try and be nice, at least for a couple of sentences. First up - the man himself. It was and still is a pleasure to see Alan Davies going through his paces; he has an ability to bring a smile to my face with his bumbling-yet-sharp characterisation of Creek. I always rather enjoyed his stand-up in his younger days as well.

But then there's the rest of it.

The wonderfully sardonic Maddie Magellan (Caroline Quentin) is long past history; indeed in the eensy-wensy bit of research I've done for this posting I've learnt that she was replaced by a character called Carla Borrego (Julia Sawahla) some years after I'd stopped watching the first time.

This new series appears to be a written-by-numbers piece of formulaic laziness. The characterisations have become caricatures. Davies has a new sidekick called Joey, played by Sheridan Smith. Smith has an in-role propensity for flashing plenty of leg (and in The Grinning Man, a quick glimpse of bottom). I like a bit of thigh as much as the next man - but this is so obviously prime-time formula, it's dreadful.

I can picture the production meeting where the team agree that Davies has grown into mum's favourite fantasy figure, so they'd best get a bit of skirt in to keep dad happy. Hey presto - winning formula!Plots for Jonathan Creek have always been a tad on the preposterous side, but ideas seem to have run so thin that the audience is now expected to put up with more holes than the average string vest. We're expected to believe that whenever Creek or Joey creep around following a potential baddie, that baddie has lost all peripheral vision and sense of hearing. Really, people, this sort of thing went out with Dixon of Dock Green.

We're asked to believe that, having discovered a veritable hoard of corpses hidden inside a stately home (including at least one very recent one), the house remains lived in and the police are nowhere to be seen. They'd be all over the place and tearing it apart, guys. We're expected to believe that the supposedly brilliant Creek (and professionally sceptical Joey) didn't bother to check clues that are screaming at them; not even when they've actually spotted the obvious. No - they just carry on inexplicably scratching their heads for another interminable half hour.

It's time to put Mr Creek to bed for good; Alan Davies needs to find something else to do with his considerable talents and the public should be offered properly written, intelligently thought out shows - not lazy, ill-conceived hours of piffle like this.

We won't be downloading the next episode, but you'd probably worked that out.

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