Jonathan Creek-Series 4 (2003)

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Released 18-Feb-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Series Featurette-Video Profiles of Alan Davies, Julia Sawalha & David Renwick
Deleted Scenes-Deleted Scenes for The Seer of the Sands
Music Video-Hot Stuff Pop Video
Booklet-Collector's Booklet
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
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-Opaque-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music Julian Stewart Lindsay


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

†† With the sad news of the sleuth's infamous homestead and cultural landmark closing down alongside†a second pleasing series return, I find myself completing the set of Jonathan Creek DVD reviews with the fourth and final series. Taking to BBC's marvelous locked-room mystery series on DVD at your own pace is brilliant, having a nice row of episodes lined up without an agonising wait of months or years between entries. Although the weakest in the show's run, I still find plenty of intrigue and excellence here in what was to be the show's end before this†current joyous revival.

† ††Jonathan Creek (Alan Davies) is a "magician's assistant", an intellect who†designs and creates the illusions for popular showman-cum-absurd-idiot Adam Klaus (reprised to perfection by Stuart Milligan). But he demonstrates brilliance also solving unsolvable crimes, here brought into the limelight on TV with unlikely partner Carla Borrego (Julia Sawalha) who accompanies him throughout six mind-bending mysteries. The best episodes here are the simplest; Angel Hair is a fascinating case where a kidnapped model seemingly regrows a full head of hair just hours after having her head shaved, and The Chequered Box is likewise a darker tale in which a respected police officer is photographed laughing with the body of a murder victim he later claims never to have seen. Unfortunately the episodes tend to twist and turn to become more convoluted than any prior, with some particularly preposterous B-plots, but all still retain a central intriguing and intelligent mystery which unfolds spectacularly.

†† With the exception of a sly reference, Maddie is completely absent from the fourth series, replaced by Ab Fab favourite Julia Sawalha whose Carla†Borrego banged heads with Jonathan investigating Satan's Chimney. Like the ever-twisting and convoluting plotlines, her relationship with Jonathan (and bizarre marriage with Brendan Baxter - a superb Adrian Edmondson) is much less convincing or enjoyable than the chemistry the central character had with†Caroline Quentin's†investigative journalist, but she becomes more fleshed out and fun as the series progresses. A lowbrow foil to Jonathan's sharp wit and intellect, her presense matches the tonal shift that separates these episodes from the former; she grew on me, but your mileage may vary.

† † Even though this series ended on a not-great note with the less credible Gorgons Wood, this is a must-have DVD set for fans and is needed to complete the collection of current episodes. Fortunately there's more brilliance to follow and even more to come - may series creator David Renwick continue to spoil us fans!

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††The video is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.
† †
†† Unlike the previous Jonathan Creek sets I found the video transfer here to be very strong, with little in the way of grain or film artefacts. The colours are bright and strong, fortunate as this is the brightest and craziest the show has ever been, but even in the dark scenes there's still very little low level noise (see the photography sequences in The Chequered Box). As a fan who has seen the DVDs go back and forth in image quality, this is a very pleasant surprise.

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

†††There are English subtitles for the hearing impaired, 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 absense is not noticable.

†††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 are nice enough.

Production Notes Booklet

†† This full colour booklet features plot summaries from the fourth series as well as a few paragraphs about the show with photos of the cast from the episodes.

Video Profiles - Alan Davies (4:28) Julia Sawalha (6:27) and David Renwick (4:50)

†† Finally, some more special features! These short but sweet video profiles feature talking head interviews with the principals as well as some behind-the-scenes footage that show a very amiable cast and crew working under occasionally trying conditions but still with a sense of fun. Those following†QI will already know how much fun it is spending time with Alan Davies but producer Verity Lambert also draws attention to the brilliance of working with comedy actors, whose skill working between drama and comedy tones sometimes within minutes makes for very well-acted, well-done material. It's strange that the one-season Julia Sawalha gets the longest of the profiles, but it's still great fun to watch, as is the profile of series writer David Renwick, who penned every episode of the series and here discusses how he writes the episodes and mysteries.

Deleted Scenes from The Seer of the Sands (8:07)

†† It's one of those bizarre conundrums that the weakest episode of probably the entire series receives extra special features, but these deleted scenes certainly demonstrate David Renwick's writing prowess with several amusing subplots cut from the running time of the original episode, primarily concerned with a visit to a witch doctor. It was no doubt cut for both time and quality, but there's several funny moments here that make it worth the watch.

"Hot Stuff" Music Video from Angel Hair (3:15)

†† The music video that the main character of Angel Hair pleasures himself too is here in its entirity; as a DVD extra, it's pretty standard, but in context, it's kinda completely bizarre. Still, why not?

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 third season and Christmas Specials; the first and second seasons were included in an initial R2 set, and finally the R2 recieved a phenomenal entire series set, featuring all episodes, specials and extra features, which would be the best buy to my mind.

Summary

†††Jonathan Creek remains an exceptional, unique mystery television show, with elements of drama and comedy mixed in with unforgettable characters. I cannot recommend it enough.

†† Both the video and audio transfers are fine.

†† The extras here are quite good, though one wishes there were more, but this is definitely better than the completely empty previous ventures.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using Component output
DisplayPhilips 47PFL9732D 47-inch LCD . Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderLogitech 5500 THX. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationLogitech 5500 THX
SpeakersLogitech 5500 THX

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