Jonathan Creek: 502 “The Sinner and the Sandman” Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
After last week’s disappointing opener, you would expect Jonathan Creek to pick up because, surely, nothing can be worse than The Letters of Septimus Noone, right? Wrong. The Sinner and the Sandman was shoddily written phooey that lacked what series five’s premiere had: a watchability factor. The Letters of Septimus Noone was only tolerable because it was entertaining, the mystery was even more unlikely and improbable than usual but still amiable fun and Creek’s one-off companion, Ridley was a particular highlight. The Sinner and the Sandman was just dull with an equally dull mystery wrapped round it, punctuated by moments that were supposed to be funny. Series five is looking to be a sorry mess.
For starters, there was no properly engaging mystery. Eric Ipswitch’s unfeasible prediction had to share too much room with the soapy nonsense that Jonathan (Alan Davies trying his very hardest. Late last month he said he would play the former illusionist for ten more years if it was possible. Judging by this series, he won’t get another year, let alone ten) and Polly (Sarah Alexander is proving to be the only good thing about this series, with her intelligence and sensibility, harking back to the days of the great Caroline Quentin) and was deadened in the process. The resolution to his amazing clairvoyancy was underwhelming, too, and did nothing to save a mystery that was never interesting in the first place.
Regarding the subplot of Polly and Jonathan’s snoopy new town, I was intrigued as to how they would resolve The Hound of the Baskervilles-esque creature (another tip of the hat to Sherlock) and I’m sure I’m not the only one that was disappointed. I miss the locked room mysteries – not tales we, the audience, knew what happened in the end (ahem, The Letters of Septimus Noone) but I want an episode harking back to the days of Jack in the Box (a wonderful series one episode in which a veteran comedian is found locked in his own nuclear fallout bunker, the door sealed from the inside; do search it out) or The House of Monkeys when Jonathan Creek was truly in its prime. Right now, what writer David Renwick is offering up is just pure codswallop, it’s not even entertaining.
I’m becoming increasingly disillusioned with Renwick’s new direction of the show. The Easter Monday special last year, The Clue of the Savant’s Thumb wasn’t exactly terrible but it was definitely substandard and this fifth series has reaffirmed my fears Jonathan Creek is well and truly spiralling downwards – quickly. It’s a tragedy when once it was everyone’s completely ridiculous but good fun detective (well, sort-of) series and now it’s not even that; it’s descended into a curious soap opera with a mystery stapled onto the back of that.
I want Jonathan Creek to take a break, at least until David Renwick comes up with a story or two that’s reminscent of the show’s bygone days. Why he decided to shake things up after Sheridan Smith’s Joey departed is beyond me because, as they say; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Alan Davies and Sarah Alexander, more so, are what save this tedious hour from dropping down to a lower mark.