The Jonathan Creek Christmas Special will have fans scratching their heads – and possibly wanting to shut themselves away in a locked room for a long time.
It was a quite ridiculous caper involving vicious Victorian demons, a horror film director and enough bickery banter between Alan Davies’ hero and his new wife Polly (Sarah Alexander) to last a lifetime. If you thought that Jonathan Creek has turned into Scooby Doo in recent years… well, on this evidence, you’re probably right.
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But what was it all about?
Well, the latest adventure found Creek in Daemons’ Roost, the home of Ken Bones’ Nathan Clore, legendary horror director with a dark past.
The home was also once owned by Jacob Surtees who, 150 years ago (or so, it wasn’t quite clear), reputedly burned men in a fiery furnace which he threw them into with his demonic powers. The women (wives?) were forced to watch before he ravished them.
Clore, who made a schlocky film on the legend of Jacob Surtees, is now incapacitated by illness and can’t speak. But it turned out that his new wife and two of her three children were mysteriously killed in the home. His third, surviving, daughter Alison is now an adult and found herself summoned to see Clore just before his death. And she in turn summoned Creek, determined to solve the mystery of the spooky house.
But that, it seems, was a bit of a red herring.
Adult Alison recalls hearing talk of goblins in hushed exchanges between her mother and Clore.
But it turns out that the “goblin” she recalled hearing about as a child was the worried talk about blood haemoglobin – a word she heard when her mother was discussing the very real illness that ravaged the family. (I think there is a connection with the word Daemon here too).
So there was nothing fishy about the home. The Mother and children died from a rare blood disease. The real villainy was being perpetrated by Alison’s creepy husband Stephen Belkin (Emun Elliott, below)
We should have been alerted to him being such a wrong’un when we found out that Creek had got him of a charge of killing his first wife. Creek had found out that she was murdered in an elaborate plot involving a book and a hidden poison pill, that rolled into his wife’s glass in their locked room. He got off the charge but was keen to kill again, knowing that Alison was due to inherit the fancy pile that is Daemons’ Roost.
But watching him it, turned out, was Ryman (Jason Barnett), the likable-seeming odd job man who was actually a vengeful schemer who was trying to get his own back.
Belkin had been dastardly to Ryman’s sister in law in the past (though why Belkin wouldn’t have recognised him is anybody’s guess). And he had set himself up in the house knowing that Belkin – who had remarried – would pay a visit one day. He was watching the house ready to strike.
When he found the torture chamber he had his chance. What better way to get Belkin than finding an ancient torture chamber that was rigged up to fling him into a fiery oven while his wife, drugged and dazed and (most importantly) chained down, looked on.
And let’s not forget Patrick Tyree, the grunting vengeful con that Creek helped convict who was on his tail in a weird subplot. He ended up in the fiery furnace at the hands of Creek, who didn’t (for such a likeable chap) seem too bothered that he had burned a man alive. It’s all in a day’s sleuthing for our Jonathan.
It was an elaborate plot, and extremely silly, with little sense of plausibility and all rather reminiscent of Scooby Doo. It also had all the usual Creek additions which tonight grated a little.
There was Warwick Davis’ comedy vicar (below) with the lame jokes. There were Creek’s lame jokes. And the frequently tiresome husband and wife banter between Creek and his wife Polly (Sarah Alexander) which I have mentioned before.
But in the end nothing in Creek ever outshines the daftness of the plots. Whether you love or hate them, they’re certainly always Creek-y. Enjoyable fun? In a way, I suppose.
This article was originally published on 28 December 2016