TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 4

Series 4 sees Jonathan Creek lose its way badly as chauvinism slides into misogyny amid Alan Davies and Julia Sawalha’s strange chemistry

“Now it’ll save your time and mine, I think, if I truncate”

I found series 4 of Jonathan Creek surprisingly difficult to watch. Even if the quality had started to taper off over the course of the previous three seasons, something critical had been lost at this point, far over and beyond the departure of original star Caroline Quentin. Her replacement was Julia Sawalha’s Carla, introduced in the 2001 Christmas special and though she shares a screwball-ish energy with Alan Davies’ duffle-coated protagonist, she’s been married off to Ade Edmondson’s svengali Brendan.

It’s an odd choice that unsettles the whole rhythm of the show, as it devotes way too much time to the uneasy relationship between the pair. And as David Renwick’s writing fully immerses itself in its worst male chauvinist excesses – just look at how women are presented in the first episode, from the prizewinner presented as a grotesque to Anna Francolini being done dirty as a ditzy assistant – the idea that the majority of female characters now have to throw themselves at Jonathan’s feet, is delusional nonsense.

There’s also a sense of Renwick struggling to find plots that work as the tone veers wildly across these six episodes, ricocheting from actual serial killers to philandering husbands, with a concordant lack of the geniality that had previously been the show’s hallmark. A series to avoid if you’re thinking of a rewatch.

Top 5 cameos

  • Jack Dee is surprisingly good in a straight role in the second episode which also features
  • the excellent Sophie Thompson who does well
  • and the equally good Tamsin Greig who fares less well with a dog of a role
  • If you don’t follow Fergus Craig on Twitter then you’re missing out, which you might also do if you blink during his moment as a paramedic here
  • And Celia Imrie is always good value for money, taking a main role in the final episode which also turned out to be Sawalha’s last

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