The much trumpeted return of long running BBC dramedy Jonathan Creek just finished its shortened run on BBC1. And sadly, it had a fatal flaw.
Like the character itself, the show is getting old. After all, it’s been kicking about for nearly 20 years now (the first episode aired in 1997). In that time,far younger curly-haired amateur detectives have come along with their fancy camera work and gay subtext. So how did Jonathan Creek hold up against the likes of Sherlock and Dirk Gently?
The short answer is that it didn’t bother trying. Over all the years nothing has really changed. Alan Davis is still playing the same man who first appeared back in 1997, though there has been a slight change to the background detail. Gone are the windmill and magic to be replaced by a London office job (which he seems to visit as often as Santa delivers presents) and a wife played by Sarah Alexander.
Alexander, who replaced Creek’s last Official Question Asker Sheridan Smith (who is now far too famous to appear on a sub par detective show), is good and fits nicely into the role – but I don’t believe in her character Polly is in love with, let alone married to, Creek (can we just pause for a moment to reflect on what a truly stupid surname that is? Thanks. As you were).
This lack of chemistry isn’t helped by the fact that almost their entire relationship and wedding happened off-screen so we have no idea why they got married in the first place – beyond the fact that the script writer David Renwick thought it would be a good idea. However, as Jonathan Creek is – theoretically- a detective show, viewers really weren’t checking in for a dose of romance: they were there for the crimes. Unfortunately, said crimes had about the same level of intrigue and suspense as an average episode of Songs of Praise.
The whole series felt incredibly pedestrian and small-scale compared to the newer, more up to date BBC shows. The episodes were fun but in a very watered down way: a bit like a quiet Sunday afternoon having tea and scones are with your Nan. There are no big thrills or brain cracking puzzles. Sadly, like your nan’s scones Jonathan Creek is a bit old, stale and past its best.