Anyway, last night was the long-awaited Easter special of Jonathan Creek, namely "The Clue of the Savant's Thumb". I really wish it had been on Sunday night instead so I'd have a day to recover - as it stands, I didn't get to bed until gone midnight last night thanks to obsessively refreshing both Twitter and Tumblr for fan reactions, and even then did not get to sleep until nearly two.
I probably shouldn't be abusing New Job's technology to be doing LJ entries, but as it's quiet and nobody is looking (shhhh!) I shall at least try and get some of this nonsense out of my head before I attempt (and doubtless fail) to sleep tonight. (Entry also finished at home much later.)
Because seriously, I need to vent this. cloudsinvenice and thefleshfailure may both wish to wait until after they've watched before clicking the cut...
These are my initial reactions after one viewing; I have Sky+'ed the episode so may watch again at some point, if I can bring myself to do so, and follow up with subsequent thoughts.
My general feeling, immediately post-episode, was ambivalence bordering on disappointment. I was so so so excited about this Easter special - renewed fandom flail notwithstanding - and I think perhaps in that sense, I set myself up for a fall. Sheridan Smith's cryptic comment about Jonathan having "changed" turned out not to be that cryptic after all - and the change in question was most definitely not subtle. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I enjoyed the opening. Suitably creepy, as we've come to expect from the latest specials, and it definitely piqued my interest. Given they've cast nearly all of the Young Ones now (including Nigel Planer twice, as different characters), it seems vaguely appropriate they should include Jennifer Saunders at some point so we have most of the cast of AbFab too. :P The disappearing body was also very typically Creek, though seemed to have no bearing on the convent schoolgirl stuff.
I think actually I may need to do this in list form otherwise I will lose track. So.
Things I Liked
- Creepy convent schoolgirl opening, as already stated.
- THE DUFFELCOAT. It's like his superhero outfit. Slightly on the cheesy side but frankly, after the Epic Plot Point of Ultimate WTF, it was like a little fanfare of triumph.
- The Jonathan/Joey dynamic, as ever. Absolutely brilliant and - for me at least - the high points of the episode. I am rather upset that they haven't really stayed in contact and she had to Google him (presumably after turning up at the windmill to find it deserted? Which, more on that later.) but that first scene in the office was awesome. Her appreciative / ironic eyebrow raise as he stripped off his shirt was hilarious, as was her general reaction to his new situation. The bit where he was quietly despairing at the young generation was brilliant. Loved Joey solving the schoolgirls' code and thinking she'd outsmarted him, only for him to reveal he'd done it already (and I loved his little acknowledgment of her efforts, too!). And that last bit with the chainsaw was basically the best thing ever, even though it was predictable.
It is such a relief, after Carla, to enjoy a dynamic between Jonathan and his female sidekick that doesn't rely heavily on UST, after the obvious chemistry with Maddy. The relationship between Jonathan and Joey is frelling awesome, so much more than I ever expected. Their scenes together were basically the only redeeming features of the entire episode, in my view.
- The return of Rik Mayall as DI Gideon Pryke, though his part did seem somewhat pointless - I was expecting more of him.
- Joey literally "rolling in the hay" and her "Run that by me again?" bit at the start.
- The predictive text fail stuff - for all his faults, Renwick does have a talent for wordplay, and that was no exception. Although I have to say that Circes/Circles was somewhat more impressive than Great/Greta or even East Barn / EA St Barn (the latter not even being a predictive text fail at all).
Alas, I think that might be everything. :(
Things I Didn't Like
Or, more accurately, things which should be shot into the sun and never seen or alluded to again. Gah.
- No Adam Klaus. I highly suspect Renwick was unable to get hold of Stuart Milligan again and thus had to find a way to write him out - but given Adam was only seen in one episode of series 1 after Anthony Head went off to do Buffy, I think writing his character out completely is a very heavy-handed way of doing it. But we've seen this from Renwick before in Love Soup and, of course, with Caroline Quentin; he is not known for being reasonable where cast changes are concerned, instead choosing to over-react and throw his toys out of the pram. Unfortunately, he has not grown out it.
I never thought I would miss Adam, and even though his subplots have been getting progressively more ridiculous as the years have gone on (if ANY character needed development, it was Adam - not bloody Jonathan), his absence was definitely felt in this one. :(
- No windmill. NO WINDMILL. Not as in: Shipley Mill is now closed and they can't film there, like in "The Judas Tree". No windmill as in: Jonathan no longer lives there. JONATHAN NO LONGER LIVES IN A WINDMILL.
My brain still cannot quite process that. :(
Here's the thing. The windmill is more than a location, and it's more than Jonathan's home. It's an extension of his personality - it's even, you might say, another character. I felt its absence strongly in "The Judas Tree" because it's such a key part of the series. It's such a key part of Jonathan and who he is. All the detritus of his life crammed into that small space, and all we saw of it in his massive, shiny inner-city pad were a few magician posters.
Seriously? Ugh. FAIL.
- Apple juice does not smell like petrol, and vice versa. That bit was stupid. The entire subplot at the end of was idiotic, in fact, from Menacing Comb Man to Kamikaze Chainsaw. Utterly pointless, and gave nothing to the episode - aside from being as clear as mud when it came to certain elements, such as who attacked Joey in the old convent. (It was Menacing Comb Man - apparently that close-up on said Menacing Comb was supposed to explain the metallic twang she heard in the convent. Lost on me.)
And yeah, what's with that whole fake body thing? The link to Lumley's character's lack of faith was tenuous at best, and what reasonable person sees their beheaded father and thinks, "Oh, I know, I'll test my mother's faith by making his body miraculously disappear!" WHAT? Plus that whole drugged-schoolgirl-in-the-cupboard thing was insane.
I'm saving this until last - and coming out of bullet points - because I suspect I will have a lot of words (or possibly just incoherence) to spew out on it. Brace yourselves: this is the Epic Plot Point of Ultimate WTF.
Mrs Polly Creek. JONATHAN HAS A WIFE. My exact reaction at the time was: "That was unexpected." What I wanted to say was: AQLKJGOIHJASDFKLJHASDFLOUIHQWEIOU WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF RENWICK???? but I think Paul might have had me committed. (Plus our telly was expensive so I can't throw things at the screen.)
A WIFE. I just... I'm still trying to process this and utterly failing. I want it all to be a horrible dream or some kind of awful April Fool's prank, and at some point soon they'll release a disclaimer saying it was a joke. That's how mind-bogglingly weird it is.
The thing is, I could cope if there'd been any kind of indication, AT ALL - like the character ever appearing before. I could cope if said Mrs Creek wasn't so COMPLETELY WRONG for him (and WTF Joey, "She'll be good for you", indeed. I hope to God she's only humouring him and at the first sign of it going tits-up she'll intervene. Ugh. I had vaguely hoped Joey had the measure of Jonathan more than that, but obviously I was wrong.) I could cope if she wasn't properly bloody awful. She's actually MORE AWFUL than Carla. At least Carla didn't try to meld Jonathan into a completely unrecognisable character.
It's very simple: Jonathan Creek lives in a windmill, wears a duffel coat and solves impossible crimes on the side of designing stage illusions for Adam Klaus. Jonathan Creek does not live in an open-plan house, wear a business suit and solve impossible crimes on the side of being a marketing executive or whatever-the-heck he was doing. I have absolutely NO IDEA why anyone thought this would be a good idea. It doesn't work. I have no idea if we were supposed to hate Polly initially by virtue of her making him give up the windmill and his previous life, and come to like her later on because she was lovely and accepting of his friendship with Joey. Because frankly, liking Polly will not happen. Ever. Getting rid of the windmill is UNFORGIVEABLE.
Also, the fact that she didn't even get jealous when walking in on the seemingly compromising situation with Joey in the office says A LOT. She either doesn't care enough to get jealous, or has him so under the thumb that she knows full well he wouldn't stray. Do not want.
I might be overthinking (no, really?) but to my mind, he doesn't even look happy. I mean, he's always been a bit of a grumpy sod anyway, but when you compare his supposedly happily married life in this one episode to some of the stuff with Maddy in series 3, after the same period of three years... it does not compare. He just seems resigned to his fate, like he just kind of gave up and let the mid-life crisis take hold rather than carry on doing what he loves. I have absolutely no idea what Renwick was thinking - the only explanation is that Jonathan has always been, in some respects, his Gary Stu (at least when it came to projecting his own feelings onto the character) - so maybe it's a reflection on real life, who knows? I thought it very telling indeed that Renwick felt the need to literally self-insert in this episode (he appeared on the television near the start) - it certainly goes a long way towards demonstrating his God Complex.
These are his characters, of course, so he has every right to do what he likes with them. But that does not make it any better.
Aside from that, the "impossible mystery" was sub-par, yet even so, the joy of solving it didn't seem to bring any kind of spark back into Jonathan's life, and nor did the verbal sparring with Joey. I find myself wondering if he's merely locked in self-preservation mode, which would explain a lot - not least the marriage of convenience and his willingly giving up everything he loves. My immediate thought after the previous two specials was that he would remain in contact with Joey - or rather, that she would refuse to leave him alone - and that her youthful exuberance would bring him back out of his shell. Instead, he's gone in the opposite direction. I guess, in my head, he's just so utterly beaten down by what happened with Maddy - and subsequently Carla, though that was an entirely different kettle of fish - that he's given up and settled for the easy option. Maybe there was something unseen with Adam, too - he wasn't even mentioned at all, which is weird. I don't buy this "grown-up job" bollocks for one second - if it was really about that then I'm certain Adam could have come up with something bigger and better for Jonathan to do. I get the feeling they've parted on less-than-amicable terms, which is really sad. :(
The Jonathan we all know and love would never, EVER give up the windmill. Not just because it's his home, his place of refuge, but because it's his family's legacy. He wouldn't just abandon it like that - not even for Maddy, and never for some blonde idiot who can't love him for who (and what) he is. That line comes to mind from "Jack in the Box" when Maddy accuses him of being a spineless cretin; if she could see you now, Jonathan, she wouldn't recognise you, and she certainly wouldn't forgive you - and frankly, neither can I. :(
I am so broken by this. I can't even think how to fix it, short of calling "The Judas Tree" the canon endpoint and ignoring this episode entirely. All this time Renwick has been projecting his own bitterness onto Jonathan over Caroline's departure (for TEN FRIGGING YEARS), occasionally alluding to the character in thinly-veiled comments and cryptic conversations. After all that, he decides to give the issue a full stop NOW? Like THAT? It's bullshit. I'm sorry, but it is. He's been too cowardly and bloody childish to face it for well over a decade and now he's trying to brush it under the carpet.
Yes, I may well be a bit Crazy Fangirl right now - but I stand by my opinion that Maddy has always been at the heart of the show, even despite her absence. If you're going to keep alluding to a character like that - even when you write her out without a proper explanation (because hey, we got over that eventually even if we didn't like it) - then you need to either do it forever, or never start it at all. The fact that Adam has now joined the ranks of They Who Must Not Be Named is absolutely ridiculous. Basically: do it properly, or don't bloody bother. Right?
This ended up a bit more character-introspection-y than I intended. I think everything else has fallen out of my head now, so I will have to re-watch in order to get more coherent thoughts together. I could literally moan about this Wife Situation for about as long as I've moaned about the Maddy Situation, if not longer, but I think I'll stop now.
Essentially, this episode left me very ambivalent - I loved parts of it (the bits with Joey, mostly) but there was just too much fail. It simply didn't deliver the level of entertainment we've come to expect. Which I guess was inevitable, but it's still vaguely heart-breaking, and proof that Renwick should really have quit when he was ahead. Alas.
I hope the three episodes being filmed in the autumn are better - or that Renwick falls out with Sarah Alexander and finds some way to write her character out like everyone else. :P
Okay, hopefully now I've vented that I will actually get some sleep tonight. SO TIRED.