Jonathan Creek Review: Welcome Back Mop-face

January 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

JONATHAN CREEK CHRISTMAS SPECIAL – THE GRINNING MAN , BBC, Thursday 1st January, 9:00pm Alert me

The festive period really is a time for head-scratchers isn’t it?

Whether it’s your Aunty’s almost magical obliviousness to her ever-growing facial hair, the pondering wonderment at quite why you’ve received two copies of England’s Greatest Serial Killers Annual or the bewildering illogicality at the very reason for celebrating the day in the first place, it’s safe to say that Christmas can easily confuse as much as amuse.

So after a five year absence, Jonathan Creek’s reappearance at New Years seems perfectly timed.

Every Creek and stereotypical murder-mystery tenet is here: a creepy old castle, a creepy old woman and a very creepy old painting with seemingly supernatural powers. What is surprising though is the lack of Caroline Quentin’s creepy old face, who was written out many a moon ago in some lacklustre plot device or another.

While it’s been a while since she was around, Jonathan Creek’s absence as a whole only seems to have made the heart grow stronger for its early years, and while Sheridan Smith is admirably snarky and flirty in equal measures as his new sleuth-o-licious investigator partner, I did find myself longing for Quentin. Which is surely a big enough mystery in itself.

Alan Davies shaggy mop-face soon reminds you that he’s useful for roles outside of Stephen Fry’s befuddled whipping boy, and while his advance in years has tempered Creek’s sociopathic extremes, it’s still very fun to see the grumpy, ever-exasperated detective-cum-magician back in action. There’s one pertinent line that acknowledges Creek’s advancing years and compares him to the likely possibility that we’ll soon see Indiana Jones chase down Nazis with his bus pass.

While there’s the odd hiccup in storytelling, the combination of Alan Davies’ preternaturally youthful looks and a constantly smirk-worthy script makes the Deus ex machina solution (read: you’re NEVER going to guess it) all the more bearable and ensures Creek’s return is more than welcome.

Matt Risley