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DVD Review: Jonathan Creek season 2.

British Comedy/Mystery series stars comedian Alan Davies as Jonathan Creek, a quiet, reclusive genius who makes his living developing illusions for a flamboyant but rather clueless magician. Comedienne Caroline Quentin plays Maddie Magellan, a brash investigative crime reporter who specializes in exposing police “cock-ups”. In Season One, after an inauspicious first meeting at a backstage party when Jonathan accidently stabbed her with a cocktail pick, Maddie asked Jonathan to use his knowledge of artifice and misdirection to help her solve a puzzling murder case. After he exposed the killer, Jonathan expected to return to his quiet life, but his attraction to Maddie and his compulsion to try to solve the unsolvable drew him into case after case.

Much of the comedy in this series results from their cat and mouse romantic relationship. Maddie claims not to be attracted to him, (“I have no desire whatever to go to bed with you or to see you naked or to enter into any kind of relationship that involves undoing a zip.”) but she is drawn to his intelligence and integrity. As artful as she can be while investigating a case, when it comes to romance, Maddie is incapable of being coy. She sends out the signals, Jonathan hangs back until he thinks he can’t possibly be mistaking them; he acts, she changes direction at the last minute and poor Jonathan crashes and burns.

In this second season, Jonathan is coming out of his shell. He and Maddie have become firm friends so she has to expend much less effort convincing him to become involved in her cases and, alas, there is much less sexual tension between them. The mysteries are still engaging. In The Scented Room, a valuable painting disappears from a room with only one door. How did the thief manage to get the painting out of the room past a tour guide and a bunch of schoolgirls on a field trip? In Mother Redcap, a judge in a high profile, gangland murder case is murdered in his bedroom. How did the murderer get past the police protection outside the door and stab the man without being seen by his wife, lying in bed beside him?

Caroline Quentin has become one of my favorite actresses. She is one of the few actresses I’ve ever seen who can act convincinly while eating. It’s been fun watching her evolve as a performer. The first thing I ever saw her in was the role of Dorothy in Men Behaving Badly, a character I had trouble relating to as my friends and I really spend very little time talking about masturbation and who is having sex with whom. (I had the same problem watching Friends, by the way.) As Maddie, she manages to be intelligent and forceful but a bit flighty at the same time. In her newest role, as Detective Chief Inspector, Janine Lewis in Blue Murder, she plays a mature woman who balances life as a divorced mother
of three with her job as a police chief inspector. Her comic timing has been a driving force in every production I’ve ever seen her in.

This engaging series ran from 1997-2004, won several awards in the UK and made a star of Alan Davies. The entire series is out on DVD in Region 2 format but only the first two seasons are available in Region 1 format. The Season One set includes a documentary, some commentary and a video of Alan Davies screen test for his role.

The Season Two set contains no extras.**

Order Jonathan Creek from Amazon.

Naomi J. Krueger

For more reviews from Naomi and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.