Jonathan Creek-Series 2 (1997)

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Released 9-Apr-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Series Production Notes-Production Notes Booklet
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 297:04
RSDL / Flipper No/No
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 ?
RPI ? Music Julian Stewart Lindsay


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

David Renwick's BBC series Jonathan Creek has found a resurgence of interest, leading to the production of a new feature length Christmas special this coming December. For those who have never entered this fascinating and macabreu world, now is the perfect time, with the release of the first three seasons on DVD, hopefully followed by the fourth and the phenomenal Christmas specials.

Series 2 of Jonathan Creek once again finds over-eating investigative journalist Madeleine "Maddie" Magellan (Caroline Quentin) working with brilliant Jonathan (Alan Davies) to investigate the ghoulish murder of a famous writer, whose attacker disappeared into thin air after taking the author's daughter hostage. Enjoying some publishing success of her own, Maddie finds herself intertwined with well-known locked-room mysteries from around the country that only Jonathan's brilliant mind can unravel. Solving these mysteries is only part of the appeal of this very intelligent and very enjoyable show - the well-written and very funny interactions between the two and their surrounding characters (including Stuart Milligan taking up the role of Adam Klaus, the magician Jonathan works for) as each story unfolds makes the show very entertaining and satisfying to watch.

This series features one of my very favourite and most dazzlingly simple Jonathan Creek mysteries; in "The Scented Room", an expensive painting goes missing in a closed room before the very eyes of several onlookers. When Maddie and Jonathan are called into investigate, it is revealed that the painting's owner is a critic who mauled one of Adam Klaus's shows; within minutes, Jonathan smugly solves the mystery of where the painting has gone and how it was taken, but declines the reward money offered, happily telling the owner "I know exactly what happened to your painting; I'm just not going to tell you."

There's not a single poor episode in the entire second series of the show, featuring a fantastic two-part mystery involving a young man's suicide and a later murder in which he is witnessed to be the perpetrator, and a fascinating finale focusing on the assassination of a judge in a completely sealed room. The characters remain true and great fun to watch (a scene in which Maddie consumes an octopus cooked in its own ink goes nearly uncommented upon, yet remains one of the funniest scenes in the series) and both the plot and mysteries maintain an intelligence rarely seen on television. As a rare show by and for clever people, there's little better than Jonathan Creek.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The video is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

There is an unfortunate issue with one episode on this DVD set, "The Scented Room", which changes from the 1.85:1 widescreen to letterboxed 1.33:1. I am unsure why this is, but it detracts from the quality of the video and is an unwelcome change if watching the series in its entirety.

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 but many issues with film artefacts. Fortunately, there are no problems with interlacing in this set as seen in the first, which suggests these were mastered from the R2 originals instead of the NTSC R1 discs.

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 Macabre theme over still shots of the stars, and is nice enough.

Production Notes Booklet

The only Extra across the two-disc set is this full colour booklet, with plot summaries from the second series as well as a few paragraphs about the show with photos of the cast from the episodes. As nice as this is, couldn't a featurette or two have been afforded on how this show was made and constructed?

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, however the improvement on the video transfer from the first season set suggests that the R4 is the way to go. The set is also available in R2 featuring the first season; the third and forth seasons were included in a second R2 set as well as the two phenomenal Christmas Specials, and finally the 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.

With the exception of one annoyance with the video transfer, both the video and audio transfers are fine but not exceptional.

Booklet aside, there are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using Component output
DisplayBenq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderLogitech 5500 THX. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationLogitech 5500 THX
SpeakersLogitech 5500 THX

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