Jonathan Creek-The Grinning Man (2008 Christmas Special) (2008)

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Released 3-Nov-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Featurettes
Deleted Scenes-Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 119:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Renwick
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Alan Davies
Sheridan Smith
Stuart Milligan
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Julian Stewart Lindsay
Rick Wentworth


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame No Audio Data available for this title
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 None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

†††† After a break lasting five years Jonathan Creek returned in 2009 for a new Christmas special, The Grinning Man, focusing on the mysterious attic of an old magician's house in which anyone who stayed the night would disappear by the morning, never to be seen again. The very definition of a locked-room mystery, the standalone special was watched by nearly 10 million viewers, the highest rated show of the time slot. Directed by series creator/writer David Renwick,, the episode reunited Alan Davies as the title character with Stuart Milligan, reprising his sleazy role as Adam Klaus, and introduced a new foil for Jonathan's sharp wit, a rival detective and solver of unsolvable mysteries Joey Ross, played by Sheridan Smith.

†††† Taking the director's chair for the first time, David Renwick does a competent job with his unfortunately over-written over-long special, in which the fantastic central mystery takes a backseat to various subplots and minor mysteries with varying degrees of success. At 120 minutes, it's the longest episode of the series, but also the most padded; your mileage may vary with a now outdated 3D porn subplot involving the reprehensible Klaus, and a concluding mystery that unfolds to be too complex, absurd and convenient, going against the intelligent and cruel centrepiece that makes perfect, simple, horrifying sense.

†††† Jonathan Creek's future remains uncertain, with the record-breaking ratings not repeated with the subsequent special from this year The Judas Tree, but for now it is great to have another entry in the series available on DVD finally with some special features! A treat for fans, and something anyone with even a small interest in intelligent mystery shows (consider this the anti-Sherlock) should check out.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† The video is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced. Like the previous Jonathan Creek sets, the video transfer is very varied, featuring a high level of grain throughout and unfortunate variation in sharpness and detail. The image is both washed out in colour - perhaps intentionally so - and much softer than I would like. Fortunately there is a lot of detail in darker scenes, which the special lingers in at length. There is little in the way of low level noise and film artefacts.

†††† 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 video from the special, setting a nice tone.

Featurettes - Action (4:18), Rain Montage (2:16), Silly Stuff (2:11), Deleted Scenes (5:24), The Attic Design (6:11), The Attic Build (6:50)

†††† The first is a fly-on-the-wall look at shooting some of the more action-oriented sequences from the special, with low-grade wrong-aspect DV video of the shoots alongside the footage from the episode. The second has a quick look at how difficult the downpour made shooting various outdoor scenes; an apparatus designed to create heavy rain and storm effects was on a car when it was actually desired. The third is B-roll showing the cast and crew messing around, followed by the forth with several dispensable deleted scenes. The fifth and sixth are the longest and best, showing some behind-the-scenes footage designing the attic set, in models and using computer modelling, and some of the work that went into converting the location exterior into the foreboding location via CG. The actual set building and the effort that went into the big reveal are extremely impressive, showing how much detail went into creating the sometimes terrifying scenes.

R4 vs R1

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

†††There is no Region 1 release as yet. The Region 2 and Region 4 releases appear to be identical - buy whichever is cheapest.

Summary

†††† Jonathan Creek remains an exceptional, unique mystery television show, with elements of drama and comedy mixed in with unforgettable characters. This special isn't the best of the series but still has a fantastic mystery surrounded by great characters.

†††† Both the video and audio transfers are fine but not exceptional.

†††† The extras are not plentiful but they give a look behind the scenes at this very complex and interesting production.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
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.
AmplificationLogitech 5500 THX
SpeakersLogitech 5500 THX

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