Jonathan Creek: 503 “The Curse of the Bronze Lamp” Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
This fifth series of Jonathan Creek has finally established itself as something. It’s like an inferior Sherlock, not especially well written but a perplexing mystery that’s totally unlikely but the writers of the aforementioned show manage to keep the balance between improbability and reality. The Curse of the Bronze Lamp is reminiscent of old Jonathan Creek: a government minister’s wife is kidnapped yet she performs some miraculous teleportation feat, appearing miles away in the bedroom of the Creeks’ dotty cleaner (a very excellent Josie Lawrence) to place a piece of her jewellery on the pillow shortly after a call boy just dropped dead in the bathroom. Meanwhile, the clues are an Aladdin’s lamp, a pair of ripped tights, a pink ‘butterfly’ and an eccentric pair of twins. It was completely ridiculous, like classic Creek and a clear step up from last week’s dud and about halfway through I found myself lapping the madness up.
First, to sweep the negatives under the rug. The Sinner and the Sandman was just a bad story, it wasn’t likeable, it wasn’t enjoyable, it was just dull and poorly written. However, The Curse of the Bronze Lamp wasn’t although there were some problems. Polly (Sarah Alexander is my second favourite Creek girl, after Caroline Quentin, naturally) said something that really left a bad taste in my mouth. She was irritated that Jonathan was having such a great time with the beautiful Daisy (Melanie Grey) and was instantly set against him rendezvousing with an underwear model but when she discovered the woman was a plus-size fashion model she was all for it. It was an off-colour joke that had me far from laughing.
The mystery of this week’s Jonathan Creek was considerably better than the pathetic parish titbits that were supposed to be intriguing of last week. How did the minister’s wife’s necklace bijoux appear on the bed of Jonathan and Polly’s cleaner’s bed? What did a pair of tights have to do with it and was all of it really the cause of the genie lamp? I was scratching my head and the reveal was enjoyable if, like pretty much every Jonathan Creek episode ever made, ridiculous. The Tawny Owl pub reference did stick in my craw, though.
And that was Jonathan Creek series five. How was it? Not so good. With only one decent episode (tonight’s The Curse of the Bronze Lamp and even it had its flaws) and two other rather rubbish outings, it seems time to put Alan Davies’ character to bed. Reviews have been far from favourable and the ratings aren’t quite where they should be so I’ll be surprised if Jonathan Creek returns. Nonetheless, tonight’s episode was the show fitting into a new form (albeit a parochial, homestyle version of what we’re used to) and if it continued in the same vein it could return, just.
If this is the end, Jonathan Creek, then I’m sad you’ve had to go out with a whimper rather than a bang. Still, The Curse of the Bronze Lamp had its moments like the male escort scene and the (superfluous) appearance of June Whitfield as identical twins Heidi and Lauren. Geddit, geddit?