Jonathan Creek is well known among impossible crime fans for being one of the very few tv shows to ever constantly handle impossible murders, crimes, and events. It’s known for it’s wacky sense of humor, it’s stunning puzzles, and the great chemistry between it’s lead roles. I have already sampled the first two season’s of the show and me diving into the third was inevitable, so without further ado, here are my opinions!
The Curious Tale of Mr. Spearfish
Jonathan and Maddy go to a dinner party where they meet a man who claims that he sold his soul to the devil through the signing of a contract in a mysterious pawnshop. The contract had first gone up in a flames in a mysterious accident before he discovered buried treasure on his property, which was worth a considerable amount and gave him and his wife a new life. Continuing this lucky streak, he survives being shot at point blank range with only a small black scar, makes record returns on investments, and even seemingly kills a man with his mind, a series of occurrences that baffle both Creek and Maddy.
This is perhaps the most bizarre series of impossibilities that I have ever seen in any form of media and I adore this episode for it. The constant unleashing of puzzles and the continuous mystification caused by them create a incredible atmosphere around the story that left me spellbound. However, the solution is ridiculous even for a series of events as strange as these. I have seen many criticize this episode for that feature, but I like it even more because of it. It manages to string together most of these puzzles in a way reminiscent of Edward D. Hoch’s The Problem of the Leather Man with a result that is just as enjoyable and while incredibly hard to believe, it adds a element to the overall episode that makes it live up to the expectations created in the beginning. There are some excellent moments of humor here, though very few come from the comedic subplot involving Adam and instead stem from little moments strewn throughout the story that involve Maddy. The ending is also delightful, with an emotional moment and a very entertaining denouement that ends with a very enticing secret that is never revealed. The flaws are few; most of the humor falls flat, the overall solution is almost too ridiculous, and some of the solutions to the smaller puzzles ( like the thinking death) are very underwhelming, but I feel that the pros override the con’s almost completely in this case.
The Eye of Tiresias
A old woman who is an avid reader of mythology has a dream that predicts the murder of a Swiss businessman nearly word for word and precedes to also predict a car crash that leads to the death of another woman. Is this woman really a soothsayer? Is she really a daring murderess? Or has she simply gone mad?
This has the best explanation for a case of clairvoyance that I have ever encountered. I adore this type of impossibility because of all of the potential it can present. I however, have only encountered disappointing solutions in the stories I have read featuring the conundrum and to watch a episode of a tv show that features a setup and solution that are almost equal brings me joy. The clues are gorgeous, fish food being the featured one and while this solution contains a huge amount of coincidence, I’ll allow it to pass as the coincidence perfectly fits the situation and solution. I didn’t care for the comedic subplot as usual, though it provided a fairly decent ( in terms of comedic level) finale. The scene with the cyclops is also one of the most creepy things I’ve seen outside of horror movies in television, on par with the failed magic trick in Black Canary.
The Omega Man
This next episode however, is not even close to the level of the previous two and is more about disappointment than enjoyment. Maddy is invited to meet with a mysterious man who claims to possess the skeleton of a extraterrestrial. Right after she meets with the man and sees the skeleton for herself, the military descends upon their meeting place and steal the statue but upon arriving at a base, the skeleton has seemingly vanished from a constantly guarded and locked truck. This is perhaps one of the most obvious impossible crimes I’ve ever seen. The main solution is basically a rendition of a old trick and even if you can’t grasp the specifics ( and anyone who knows a bit of science should) you’ll likely still get the basic’s down. Combine that with a tell-all clue and you have a very unsatisfying set of schematics leading to a lukewarm denouement. The background and execution of the story are also poor and the only good bits were a few nice moments of atmosphere. The comedy was tiring and provided nothing to the story, though a book about the previous cases of Jonathan Creek would have been a nice promotional item for the show.
A friend of Maddy’s asks for help from her and Jonathan in order to investigate why her boyfriend keeps on muttering the name of a old house while sleeping. The place’s name is Ghost’s Forge and will soon be demolished in order for the land to be used for the building of flats, a decision for the better as the house has had a dark cloud looming over it in the year’s after the death of it’s reclusive former owner. Several fun grammatical clues here, with the significance of the books in the attic being a very good one. Maddy’s impossible disappearance is also very entertaining, with her bratty friends comeuppance being a delicious cherry on top. The solution to the owner’s death is actually quite horrifying, with the fate of a certain character leaving me unhappy even if they were supposed to be the bad guy. It really isn’t that interesting though, and is quite dull in some places, likely due to the mystery lacking the grandeur of many of Creek’s other exploits.
Miracle in Crooked Lane
A former model is put in a coma after she is severely burnt in a explosion, but several hours after the fact, a old woman claims that she witnessed that same model walking near her and that she even conversed with her. This is one of the best situations to come from the show, and though it seems more airtight than a sealed nuclear bunker, it still manages to come up with a very creative solution that contained a perfect reason for why the impossibility itself came to be. When creating impossibilities in any form, I want a good reason as to why the impossibility came to be, not just the how. The reasoning behind why the old woman saw the model hours after her death is excellent and the clues are fairly clued and perfectly placed. There is also is a very nice emotional touch to the end, which brought a few tears to my eyes. The how of the impossibility is still ridiculous, with their being much easier ways for this killer’s particular trick to occur, but it does present a nice new wrinkle to a certain category of the alibi trick. The comedy here is so and so, with the Jonathan Creek impersonators being delightful and the bathtub scene being – well it was something else.
The Three Gamblers
A drug dealer/criminal is shot several times before being dumped into a locked cellar which was then covered by a heavy piece of furniture in order to prevent him from escaping ( lets just say that his dark aura made the killer(s) not want to take any chances). Their efforts seem to have worked as when the cellar is opened up months later, the body has seemingly crawled up the stairs, with its hands underneath the doorway ( the jump scare here was great). This adds even more stress to the mind of a young man who was present at the dealer’s killing and he soons begins to believe that the dealer has supernatural powers and will soon come and kill him. Another great premise that was only hampered by an obvious solution. Renwick was paying homage to John Dickson Carr here by using one of his solutions ( at least I think he was) and though it’s a fun attempt, some of the mystique of the puzzle is lost in the process. The atmosphere however is amazing. Perfectly dark and moody and it fits completely with the episodes underlying themes of voodoo and resurrection. The sequence near the end is quite action packed, and the way Creek wriggles out of it is absolutely hilarious. The characters here are also very well drawn, with a horrific truth revealed in the end that makes everything previous even more melancholy. It’s a nice send off for Caroline Quentin, whose character has always lit up this series and I can’t wait to see how the other woman cast into the role would do in Season’s 4 to 5.
This season of Jonathan Creek really focused on more weird and abnormal situations than the season’s before. We get deal’s with the devil, soothsayer’s, alien’s, the living dead, ghosts, and so much more. I loved this season for this theme as it presented the show with all kinds of wild impossible situations that I could have never dreamed up of or put onto television. It isn’t as good as Season 2, but it still has a sparkle that very few crime shows ever achieve and all of the tricks and character relationships mixed together perfectly to create another excellent season of a show that I’ve come to adore.
A 4/5 from me!