This review contains spoilers.
5.3 The Curse Of The Bronze Lamp
After a disappointing start to the new series, Jonathan Creek seemed to return to form last week in The Sinner And The Sandman with a much more recognisable setup with one key mystery to solve. Despite not being the most exciting of mysteries, nor one of the most bloodthirsty; The Sinner and The Sandman certainly turned in some great performances, notably from John Bird. Alan Davies seemed more enthusiastic in the role as the eponymous hero and the whole setup felt a lot less perilous with far fewer contrived jokes or plot points.
Despite a more positive start to the episode, The Curse Of The Bronze Lamp still lacked pace and excitement. It has often been the case with previous series of Jonathan Creek that the ‘middle episodes’ tend to veer away from more grisly setups to focus on something more light-hearted and intricate. Fans of earlier series may remember episodes such as The Scented Room and The Omega Man which certainly were in this vein.
The Curse of the Bronze Lamp however, the final episode in this new series, felt altogether different from the previous two with a far meatier and more sinister central mystery. The wife of a noted cabinet minister is abducted from her home and locked up in a remote location. Items of her jewellery then start to appear in random and unconnected locations despite video evidence proving she is still well and truly under lock and key.
The mystery itself is a satisfying noodle scratcher and thankfully this time, there are very few glaring signposts or obvious red herrings to keep you guessing right to the bitter end.
From the outset, this episode felt far pacier and the fantastic supporting cast of Josie Lawrence, June Whitfield (twice!) and John Bird, helped significantly to elevate the calibre of performances and keep the tension mounted throughout. The three episodes in the this series have all benefited from the shaved run-time of sixty minutes which stops the viewer feeling like there is a midway slump which has often been the down fall of some of the one-off ninety minute specials.
The comedic performances provided by Lawrence and Whitfield also create a sense of levity which feels much more in keeping with the Jonathan Creek style of former years. Similarly I felt the writing from David Renwick was more sophisticated with just the right amount of comedy which made me feel at ease and the twists and turns within the plot were reminiscent of some of the ‘glory episodes’ from series one to three.
All in all I felt an overwhelming sense of relief that the new series ended on a high after what was definitely a shaky start. In hindsight I feel the episodes ran in the correct order, saving the best to last, however I can’t help feel that the sum of their parts would have been better in one episode with a really gritty mystery, rather than the three shorter episodes with some very noticeable peaks and troughs.
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