This started on Friday night. Hopefully I will actually remember to watch it, as usually when the Beeb or C4 decide to re-schedule things from their usual timeslot I completely forget when it's on. I missed half of series 3 of Ugly Betty that way...
As for the series opener... well, um. I don't know. The first ten minutes were a bit... WTF. I was expecting the first episode to run differently, somehow. Like, more 21st century stuff, rather than 10 minutes of counselling and a bit of random hallucinating.
I am quite intrigued by the Gene-may-have-killed-Sam thread, though to me it smells suspiciously of official series types stumbling over Life on Mars slash and recoiling in horror, and thus trying to put people off it by throwing in a wildcard plotline. I suspect if this storyline does evolve it will be in much the same manner as Alex getting shot at the end of the last series, i.e. by accident, Sam getting in the way of Gene's target and Gene subsequently spending the next howevermany years brooding about it. I cannot picture any feasible reason why Gene would willingly shoot Sam, or any reason for Sam to drive him to it. It makes no sense in my head. I really hope they play this carefully, or it could ruin all of the good work set up by LoM.
As for the rest of it: I like the D&C bloke ("Discipline and Complaints", and not, as Alex suggested, "a gynaecological procedure" :P), I dislike all the Galex progress apparently being ignored or having reverted back to the barely civil altercations of series 1. Or maybe I've been reading too much fanfic in the interim. Gene is understandably in a bit of a bad place, but still, you'd think he'd be at least a little pleased to discover Alex is still bloody alive. Meh. D&C bloke commented on the "chemistry", and to be honest that felt like he was just reminding us it was there. Shippers are not that stupid, writers - we do remember this stuff, and if you kept some character consistency the new viewers would figure it out quickly enough. I do not favour my ship being toyed with. Kindly leave it alone.
I will continue watching, despite the somewhat iffy start. It still had its moments of humour, and the 80s references (Tandy's!! Who remembers them?!) fill me with nostalgic glee. I'm just waiting for my favourite characters to re-emerge from the deep pit they seem to have fallen into... for example, I'm not sure I buy Ray panicking so much when put in charge (he's been in charge for weeks, or so they'd have us believe, so why does he revert to his old habits as soon as Gene is back in the driving seat?), or Shaz being turned back into the resident tea-girl. Apparently Chris has lost his bottle in that regard, too. It feels like the writers have lost their footing during the break a little bit, and hopefully they can get back on target soon.
And then on Sunday, we had the eagerly-awaited Easter special of Jonathan Creek, about which I have somewhat (hopefully) more to say.
Firstly, however: I had intended to watch the Christmas special (or technically New Year's special 2009) beforehand, just to reground myself with Sheridan Smith's character, Joey Ross. Except for some reason I absolutely could not find the video on which I'd taped it. I went through every single video under the television to no avail. The end result of this was Paul attempting to torrent the episode without actually reading anything up about torrenting in the first place, and after three hours I had sound but no vision and my PC was attempting to upgrade DivX without success because it was playing the episode in the background but I coudn't turn it off. In the end I restarted. I will attempt to torrent it again whilst I'm on leave and have time to play with it...
Anyway, despite not feeling well when the Christmas special was on, I did remember the majority of the episode. It would have been nice to be able to watch it before the new one, but I don't think it made much difference. I'm not willing to pay the extortionate BBC DVD prices just yet, thank you.
So. I'm not sure what I can say about the Easter episode. For starters, where the Christmas special was dragged out over two hours and seemed to go on forever without much really happening, the 90 minutes of "The Judas Tree" seemed to have too much going on at any given time, and too many ideas being crammed into the plot. Which is a shame, because the concept itself sounded more interesting than it actually transpired to be. I was expecting more stuff about Victorian spiritualism, for some reason, and given some of the themes in the episode's legend, more of Jonathan's interest in Egypt (I haven't made that up, by the way; his bedroom's full of Egyptian themes other than the sarcophagus) would have been nice, too. That being said, the majority of this write-up is going to be about characters, rather than plot. :P
One thing which did particularly strike me was the lack of the windmill. I recall reading a while ago on Alan Davies's twitter that Shipley Mill, where they used to film, was in danger of being closed down, so that may well be the reason. Alternatively, it's a direct result of budget cuts / the BBC only being willing to funnel money into Dr Who. It's a shame; I didn't realise until they were missing how much I enjoy scenes that take place in the windmill. It's a physical extension of Jonathan's personality and has always been one of the defining backdrops of the series, even when Maddy's flat / house changed every year...
Also, like last time, the subplot with Adam felt forced and clunky. They need to stop using him as a comedy vessel. Adam has always been the foil to Jonathan and his subplots have always been quite samey, usually involving whichever female he's objectifying that week, him lodging his foot firmly in his mouth or being a media fool. Adam will always be a big manchild. We know this. We don't need it rammed down our throats, and where Jonathan seems to have grown up, Adam most emphatically has not. Perhaps that in itself says a lot for Adam's character and personality, but at the same time, there needs to be room for him to grow. If they do make a new series or merely continue to make one-offs until the two remaining cast members are old and grey, Adam cannot simply be a caricature forever...
Moving on now to Joey. Eni told me that in a recent interview (TV Times, I think) with Alan, he described Joey as being "like Maddy", and that there would definitely be no hint of a relationship between Jonathan and Joey because of the age difference. Which, actually, yes - despite my initial reservations about the truth in that statement, I can see that he was right. (I was worried, incidentally, again because of Alan's twitter and a post aaaaages ago where he said Sheridan was a good kisser. I naturally feared the worst. Perhaps it was filmed and omitted in hindsight.) I'm beginning to suspect Joey might have some hidden daddy issues, as their interaction comes across as more like a niece/uncle dynamic, and I would never assume either of them to automatically befriend the other - not just because of the age difference, but because Jonathan likes his privacy and Joey comes across as very persistent. In some respects, however, Alan is right. Joey has elements of 'Maddyness' about her, but they're mostly superficial: , she is bolshy and loud and goes charging in head first, but that's where the resemblance ends. Maddy had no time for Adam's shenanigans, whereas Joey has no qualms about literally getting in there and helping out.
Actually, those scenes with Adam were quite telling. Given Joey was introduced as the writer of a paranormal blog (IIRC - as I said, I was ill - also, what is it with Jonathan and writers?? You'd think he'd know better by now!) we can assume she believes all that kind of stuff, and the opportunity to actually become a magician's assistant must be a childhood dream come true. Even though as an adult she obviously understands it's all illusion, there's still the excitement of taking part in it. It is, however, quite refreshing to note that Adam did not appear to play the charm card with Joey when she became his 'assistant'; I think that would have destroyed any credibility for either character, so I'm glad they didn't go there. Besides, given the aforementioned uncle/niece dynamic, I think Jonathan might castrate Adam for even thinking it. :P
Favourite Joey moment: hiding in the vase. It was horribly predictable, but I don't care, because it still made me giggle.
Least favourite Jonathan moment, however: the cat litter scene. Horrible and unnecessary. Renwick used to be much better at eking humour from a scene without resorting to bodily fluid gags. Fail. It's a shame, because that scene had potential when it started to be quite entertaining...
Also, favourite completely random moment: the cat "jumping" onto the garden table towards the beginning (when we found out the priest was allergic). That was SO BADLY edited it was hilarious. You could see the cat being thrown onto the table from off-screen and looking pissed off about it. :D
Okay, I shall now move onto Jonathan himself. He seemed a bit... weary in this. Which is understandable, really. I spied a few grey hairs at one point. I don't know, he just seemed off his game somehow. I think maybe the pacing of the episode didn't really help, and there was so much potential to throw in two of his passions (Victoriana, Egypt) into the history of the case which nobody seemed to realise. Also: ten years on and they're STILL doing the swords-in-basket trick? I know it was only there as a precursor to the vase sequence (i.e. fitting Joey into small spaces - again, they could have used that better) but I was expecting something else. It's like everyone's creativity has run dry, writers and characters included.
I have two favourite Jonathan moments, and they're both linked up. The first is actually rather cruel, but I actually really liked the scene in the courtroom where Jonathan was giving evidence. It didn't particularly work as an Explanation Scene, but the end result was quite telling. It just goes to show that Jonathan's logical thinking may well be the key to selling mystery books, but it has absolutely no grounding in the real world. He exonerated Emily in his mind, but couldn't make anyone else believe it.
Off the back of that, the next scene between Jonathan and Joey at the pub was my very favourite scene. At that point he just seemed so... utterly defeated by it. He'd figured out enough that Emily wasn't the murderer, but there was still a big gaping hole in the theory.
Before I go on, I just want to mention something else. About 20 minutes or so from the end, I was looking at the clock and doing a timecheck, as they'd already done Jonathan's explanation and it didn't seem to be winding down to any sort of conclusion... For one brief, glorious moment, I actually though they were going to surprise us at the end and have Maddy just... turn up. I know full well this would be completely implausible, and that in fact David Renwick and Caroline Quention are still apparently not communicating with each other, but I just... I don't know. Maddy has never truly vanished from the Creek universe, and last time both she and Carla were mentioned in none-too-pleasant terms. 20 minutes from the end was roughly the scene in the pub that I described above, which is probably why I may be reading too much into what follows.
The pub scene itself was quite... detached from the rest of the story. Joey reading the newspaper report on the trial was logical enough, and did at least explain why Jonathan was staring into a pint looking forlorn. The exchange in the middle just did not seem to flow at all from that start point. In fact, here's a transcript I've taken from rewatching the scene on iPlayer. :P
Jonathan: [pondering the case] ...It's bordering on psychopathic genius.
Joey: Of course, there is one other possibility, which we both know is staring us in the face. You know what I'm saying, Jonathan. Because I know what it is... to believe in someone that much, to build your whole future on someone, because it's something you know and feel deep down is right, with every instinct you ever trusted. And you know that is absolutely the way, the true and perfect way, to get shat upon from a great height.
Jonathan: I know.
Joey: I know you know. And it makes no difference, does it?
Jonathan: None whatsoever.
Joey: So... which of the many drawing boards to you want to go back to?
See? It's completely random and out of context. And yet that little exchange made my heart flutter with excitement. Look at those words from Joey. I've re-watched that scene three times now, and the same conclusion keeps rearing each time. She HAS to be referring to Maddy. Jonathan's mournful "I know" absolutely KILLS me every time, and his "None whatsoever" is so... guh. Just so... resigned to his own misery. There's no way in hell that conversation is in reference to Carla. It might be Charlotte Carney (from "Black Canary"), but that was a long time ago and besides which, Renwick has never been particularly true to his own character canon to such a degree as that. It absolutely HAS to be a reference to Jonathan and Maddy and everything that I know must have happened.
Here's my theory: after the apparent bitterness of "The Grinning Man" (where he accused both Maddy and Carla of screwing his life up - somewhat harsh!), Joey probably did a bit of wheedling. This theory also ties in with the fic I will eventually be working on, but I won't go into too much detail here, except that in that fic she is in contact with Maddy without initially realising they're connected. I'm guessing she would be curious over what really happened after Maddy buggered off to America - just like the rest of us, I might add - and that would cue a conversation wherein Jonathan would explain all of the associated mess. I have no idea what would possess Jonathan to confide in Joey - or anyone, for that matter - but it's the only explanation I can think of.
That tiny little scene absolutely broke my brain. It's completely insignificant, and it isn't even a proper mention, but there's nothing else I can possibly think of to explain it. I know this fandom pretty well, all things considered, with very little to really work on, and Jonathan/Maddy is one of my die-hard ships and one that I've worked extremely hard at figuring out... I'm reminded of Jonathan's silent answer to Carla's "Do you miss her?" in "Seer of the Sands"; he didn't have to say a word - it was written all over his face, even if only for a split second.
It's so frustrating. I desperately want to know more about what's happened, what's provoked Joey to bring it up. What's even more frustrating is apparently Eni and I are the only people to have noticed this. jonathancreek is eerily quiet (not a single post since Sunday!), and the fandom as a whole is very small. I think I'm the only 'analytical' shipper in the entire fandom, and I don't think that conversation would have hit anyone else's radar or set many alarm bells ringing like it did with me.
So... yeah. Maddy is always there at the heart of Creek even when she's not there physically. I imagine this exchange, like the bitterness before it, is a direct interpretation of Renwick's feelings / attitude towards Caroline's departure... which in itself is refreshing, because it means she isn't forgotten. I just... wish there was more to go on.
I'm sure I did have more to say, but I think that last section just broke my brain, and I have to cook tea when the oven's heated up. :)
Over and out.