TV // Jonathan Creek Series 5, Episode 1: ‘The Letters of Septimus Noone’

Starring: Alan Davies and Sarah Alexander

It’s hard to believe this is only the fifth series of the oddly comforting Jonathan Creek. But, after an absence of a complete series since the last decade it’s a welcome return we greet with this slow but satisfying opening episode The Letters of Septimus Noone.

Friday night is not a great slot for this show it has to be said, a Sunday slot perhaps lending itself more to this kind of show, but scheduling is less of an issue in the age of the iPlayer so let’s get on to the juicy stuff! The last time we saw Jonathan Creek many were disappointed, lamenting the loss of the windmill, the sorcery interludes with Adam Klaus and the over normality of the setting. But with no  Joey to be at his side, it’s time for a more natural kind of partner. That is, his screen wife, Polly as portrayed by Sarah Alexander.

It has to be said though, that this opener was just that. Its purpose was to set up plot and introduce a rather nice new house for Jonathan to look quizzical in.  Arguably, a television detective should live in accommodation that matches their mood and just as Sherlock has 221b so Jonathan Creek needs a quirky living space to animate the often plain odd plots. The big, old but cosy looking mansion introduced here is perfect for the aforementioned quizzical looks.

Plot wise, it wasn’t the best but saddled with as many strands as it had, its arguably hard to estimate just how it could have gone any other way. But despite these shortcomings, there was still that familiar wit and visual humour to enjoy while we try and get used to the new setting. Frankly, it’s still odd to see Jonathan Creek married and working in an advertising agency but you can’t be a magician’s advisor all your life can you? And the Adam Klaus subplots were starting to get ridiculous any way a long time ago…

Taken as a whole though, it was a quietly satisfying opener that works better on second view than the first. The opening sequence in the theatre was a highlight, deftly asking the question of what should be done with those who film shows for the benefit of five YouTube viewers.  Alan Davies is still effortless in the role, maturing the character convincingly but not by too much. He may have started working in advertising, but the humour is still there.

Of course, it’s difficult to discuss the plot too much without giving things away but look out for overt references to a certain hatted detective, more gore than has been seen in the show for a good while and the usual country oddballs who make this show so delightful to watch. It’s no Killing, for sure, but then again Jonathan Creek has always been resolutely itself and that’s to be celebrated!

Words by Sebastian Gahan. Image © BBC

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