TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 3

Elements of David Renwick’s writing starts to show signs of flagging as the magic starts to fade in Series 3 of Jonathan Creek

“What exactly does all this add up to?”

After a decent first couple of series, the third season of Jonathan Creek sees the show start to wobble a bit as the raft of impossible crimes sways from ingenious plotting to improbably convoluted. Episodes tackle disappearing aliens and a man who thinks he has sold his soul to the devil and it doesn’t always come off.

That said, there’s still some classic tales in here too. The revelation of ‘The Eyes of Tiresias’ is artfully done and ‘Miracle in Crooked Lane’ is properly, admirably fiendish even with its meta-theatrics. Alan Davies and Caroline Quentin both continue in good form but David Renwick’s writing doesn’t permit more than piecemeal character development which, three series in, leaves them a little flat.

There’s also further signs of Renwick needing an editor to guide him away from his worse impulses. His gender politics get ever more cringeworthy and for the second time in as many series, there’s a comedy villain of a theatre critic (though any opportunity to see Jim Bowen should be hailed!).

As no-one might have known at the time, this third series also saw the final appearance of Quentin’s Maddy. She left to have children and in a 2014 interview said she intended on returning but when the show came back for an excellent feature-length Christmas special in 2001, Julia Sawalha’s Carla Borrego was introduced as the new sidekick who would take us into Series 4. Still watchable, but not classic Creek.

Top 5 cameos

  • Adjoa Andoh’s inscrutable factotum is full of intriguing mystery in ‘The Curious Tale of Mr Spearfish’
  • Wherein a Twinkle-era Maxine Peake is vivid indeed in her courtroom scenes too
  • The OG Demon Headmaster himself Terrence Hardiman as a vindictive French businessman is gloweringly good fun
  • Tom Goodman-Hill is spookily made up as a scarily similar Jonathan Creek-uber fan
  • And such a treat to see a young stubbly Elliot Cowan playing a crucial role in the feature-length Christmas special ‘Satan’s Chimney’ which marks the arrival of Julia Sawalha’s Carla Borrego, Maddy’s replacement for the season to come

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