Jonathan Creek-Series 1 (1997)

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Released 18-Oct-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Audio Commentary-Commentary with writer and director on pilot episode
Featurette-Long Hair and Duffel Coat
Featurette-Screen Test
Booklet-Collector's Booklet with Production Information
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 324:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sandy Johnson
Keith Washington
Marcus Mortimer
Richard Holthouse
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Julian Stewart Lindsay


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†† Following the success of dark comedy One Foot in the Grave, writer David Renwick†decided to take on a different kind of TV show, originally imagined as a British Columbo that would tackle locked-room mysteries: unsolvable, impossible crimes in which murder or other criminal activity had taken place in a "locked room" in which escape was impossible. This formed the basis for his fascinating dramatic-comedy-thriller Jonathan Creek.

†††Jonathan Creek finds investigative journalist Madeleine "Maddie" Magellan (Caroline Quentin) investigating the impossible murder of a famous painter, who is killed in his bedroom by a killer who completely disappears from the scene of the crime. Meeting eccentric introvert Jonathan Creek (Alan Davies), the designer of illusions for a stage magician, Maddie decides to use him to solve the baffling crime taking advantage of his†superb lateral-thinking brain whilst using her skills as a plausible liar to†sneak into closed crime scenes and interview suspects. The show thrills through the excellent dialogue and rapport between the two highly unusual characters - tired, doesn't-want-to-be-there Jonathan and the pushy success-at-any-cost Maddie - who are also surrounded by excellent secondary characters including chronic-womaniser magician Adam Klaus (Buffy's Anthony Stewart Head); but at the heart of every episode are†the mysteries, bringing Maddie and Jonathan together to look deeper at the completely impossible, fascinating scenarios.

†† The real joy of Jonathan Creek comes from the ability for the viewer to interact with the material in such a way that lacklustre anti-intellectual efforts like CSI and its numerous unbearable rip-offs†cannot; the locked-room mysteries are presented straight-forward around the opening of each episode, depicted before our very eyes giving us a chance to solve the mystery as or before Jonathan and Maddy unravel the piece. Each mystery is cleverly plotted and ingeniously constructed, going against Jonathan's own ideology that a peek behind the curtain ruins the intrigue that made the puzzle interesting in the first place. Only the season finale from this first offering, The House of Monkeys, falls victim to the kind of malarky CSI partakes in, in which new information is constantly added to form a wholly unsatisfying explanation and conclusion that feels more like a deus ex machina cheat†than an actual solution.

†† Regardless, the first season of Jonathan Creek is excellent, unique viewing, with fascinating mysteries and engaging characters to draw one in. Although the potential romance between Jonathan and Maddy teased throughout the series is the kind of clichť seen many times before throughout film and television history, an abundance of humour and its unusual presentation between two†unconventional characters makes the series feel fresh. Highly recommended viewing.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††The video is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

†††The video transfer is very varied, often featuring a high level of grain in particularly light and particularly dark scenes, though remains sharp and bright throughout, with high levels of detail and very few film artefacts. Only†occasional interlacing distracts from the viewing, which is a surprise as I would have imagined the footage to have been taken from the R2 original, which lacked interlacing altogether.

†††These are dual-layer discs, with the layer change occurring between episodes.

†††There are English subtitles, which are accurate based on the sample of scenes I viewed with them.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Stereo).

†† Jonathan Creek features effective but unexceptional sound, with the excellent main theme booming lovingly through the stereo as each episode begins before taking a backseat to the superb, perfectly-synced dialogue. All audio is well mixed and audible, as is important in a show like this in which the small details can make a big difference. Although full surround would be better, its absence is not noticeable.

†††The distinctive theme tune is an arrangement of Camille Saint-SaŽns' Danse Macabre by Julian Stewart Lindsay, who composes the excellent, often intense orchestral underscore throughout the series.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Animated Menus with Sound

†††The menus here feature the Danse Macarbe theme over still shots of the stars, and is nice enough.

Audio Commentary with writer David Renwick and director Marcus Mortimer on "The Wrestler's Tomb"

†† The first episode and pilot features a full commentary by the incredibly smart but sadly unengaging David Renwick and director Marcus Mortimer, who directed the first half of the series. Unfortunately, while they sustain energetic banter throughout the†feature-length episode, there isn't a lot of interesting or entertaining information to convey here, and while there's a lot of detail pointed out, little of it will make any difference to the hardcore fan nor the film student. Miss this one.

Long Hair and Duffle Coat Featurette (24:51)

†† A lot more meaty than the commentary, this featurette goes through interviews with all of the main cast and crew (except a suspiciously absent†Caroline Quentin) discussing the show's conception, execution and reaction, including some great backstory with Alan Davies and David Renwick, as well as touching on the surprise of the unlikely success of the show. Presented in grainy 1.33:1, this is definitely something that the fans will enjoy.

Screen Tests (12:42)

†† Screen tests for Alan Davies and Caroline Quentin presented in generally horrible video quality at 1.33:1 are slightly amusing to watch the two superb actors at play, but have little interest for anyone except die hard fans.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††The R1 and R4 editions of this set appear to be identical, so whichever is cheapest; the set is also available in R2 featuring the second season as well. The third and forth seasons were included in a second R2 set as well as the two phenomenal Christmas Specials, and finally R2 received a phenomenal entire series set, featuring all episodes, specials and extra features, which would be the best buy to my mind.

Summary

†††Jonathan Creek is an exceptional, unique mystery television show, with elements of drama and comedy mixed in with unforgettable characters.

†††The video and audio transfers are both fine but not exceptional.

†††The few extras are mostly forgettable.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDLG LH-D6230, using Component output
DisplayBenq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationLG
Speakers B&W LCR 600 S3 (Front & Centre); B&W DM 600 (Rears); B&W ASW500 (Sub)

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