PIE IN THE SKY – Series one: DVD Review

Acorn Media
Release date: May 12th. 2009
MSRP: $49.99
Stars: Richard Griffiths, Maggie Stead, Malcolm Sinclair

Tony award-winner Richard Griffiths (perhaps best known as Harry Potter’s uncle Vernon) stars as D.I. Henry Crabbe. After being injured, Crabbe opts to retire and, with the help of his wife Margaret (Maggie Stead), open a small restaurant. This restaurant, named Pie in the Sky, specializes in simple meals made with fresh indrediants. Crabbe is all set to leave his crimefighing ways behind him.

But that would not make for much of a mystery show, would it?

No sooner has he put on his apron, when he finds himself facing (false) bribery charges. His old boss, Assistant Chief Constable Freddie Fisher knows that Crabbe’s skills were a large part of his own success and is not ready to let go of him.

So now Crabbe splits his time between the kitchen and the crime scenes. Not only does he have to deal with the day to day challenges of running a restaurant, but he also has to be at the beck and call of Fisher whenever a tricky crime arrises.

While this is an interesting scenario, Pie in the Sky never moves beyond being mildly entertaining.

For me, part of the problem is that Crabbe is…well, an ass. There really is not too many other ways to put it. His arrogance is mind boggling. While it is amusing to watch him tear into Fisher, his attacks on virtually everything else gets to be a bit much. To make this type of character work, you need to show a softer side so folks can get behind him. Sadly, we see precious little of that softer side.

I don’t want to say the show is a total loss, as Maggie Stead is good as his long-suffering wife, and some of the restaurant scenes are interesting. I will also say Pie in the Sky did get better as the set went on. It looks like the writers slowly got used to mixing the mystery and food. Perhaps come set two, the show will have found it’s grove.

Video:
Not unlike many other British shows, this has a softer look to it. I get the impression that the BBC does little to maintain their shows. It is not too bad and certainly does not make the show unwatchable, but the picture is not what one would find on most American shows.
Audio:
The sound is offered up in Dolby stereo, a format that more than does the job. Subtitles are offered in SDH English.

Extras:
An interview with Maggie Stead runs about eighteen minutes and is exactly what it sounds like. There is also some production notes and a text biography of Richard Griffiths.
The show apparently was pretty popular in England, so it is possible that I simply am not seeing what many others did. Food fans will likely enjoy the show, but straight-forward mysteries fans may find too little crime of substance. As I said, the show got better over the course of the episodes so I am interested in seeing how set two plays.

Order Pie in the Sky, series one.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.