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"Splendid" --The Guardian (U.K.)
"Perfectly entertaining" --The Independent (U.K.)
Jackson Brodie (Golden Globe® nominee Jason Isaacs, Harry Potter, The Patriot) used to be a soldier in the British army and then an officer in the Lothian and Borders Police. Now the tough detective has turned private investigator, compelled to bring peace to victims and their families. Based in Edinburgh, the good-hearted Brodie finds himself looking into everything from lost cats to wayward spouses and killers on the run. He does a lot of running himself, partly to unwind from the stresses of his work, but mostly to escape the memories of his own traumatic past.
Seen on Masterpiece Mystery, this "more than successful adaptation" (The Guardian, U.K.) of Kate Atkinson’s award-winning novels also stars Amanda Abbington (Agatha Christie’s Poirot), Natasha Little (Vanity Fair), Phil Davis (Vera Drake), and Keith Allen (Robin Hood). Created for television by Ashley Pharaoh of Life on Mars, this character-driven drama features sharp scripts and an outstanding lead performance by Isaacs, all set against the ruggedly beautiful Scottish scenery.
Top Customer Reviews
The structure used by the BBC in broadcasting this series was to air twin one-hour episodes on consecutive nights; resulting in a single drama consisting of approximately one-hour and 55 minutes. The only problem that I have with this structure is that you have a climax in the middle of the drama, which seems unnecessary when the two episodes are viewed back to back (as opposed to on consecutive nights.)
Beginning next week, PBS will start to show these dramas in two-hour blocks (the twin UK episodes joined together). When watching the series, keep in mind that PBS has redacted approximately 5 minutes or so in order to fit the episode into the allocated time slot. The DVD, which is not produced by PBS, contains the full UK episodes. The 5 minutes or so cut are substantive (e.g., (i)in the first drama - scene where father abuses daughter is drastically cut, and (ii) in the third drama, the kidnapped victim's escape is drastically cut), and don't include the additional non-substantive cuts (e.g., one set of credits and titles, as well as the scene at the start of the second hour of the drama that remind the audience of what transpired on the previous night).
My only complaint regarding the DVD is the price. $36 is a bit steep for less than six hours of TV. I will wait until the price comes down. For example, I purchased Downton Abbey for under $20 when it first came out, and it is cheaper now. I expect a series like this to sell for $25 or so. Considering the limited content (under six hours), I don't think that a higher price is justified. (NOTE TO AMAZON: $40-$50 FOR A SEASON OF NEW TRICKS IS OUTRAGEOUS.)
Kate Atkinson has written some superior crime novels around English private investigator Jackson Brody, a former police man. The novel called Case Histories has him involved in 3 diverse cases at the same time, all related to mysteries about missing or dead girls.
A little girl has disappeared 30 years ago. Now her father has died and the girl's sisters find her Blue Mouse toy in father's desk.
A young girl starts an internship in her father's law firm. On her first day in office, a man shows up with a knife, kills her, and disappears.
While a woman is in jail for murdering her husband, her little girl disappears from foster care.
Lots of problems for Brody.
This is the only book of hers that I read myself. My daughter tells me that her others are also good.
A BBC series with 6 episodes based on 3 of Atkinson's Brody novels has been produced and shown on TV in summer 2011. This is brand-new stuff. I watched it with my wife and I was very impressed. If you like the genre, you will appreciate this as top of the class. The production added some local charisma by transferring the location from somewhere in England to more remarkable Edinburgh, with all the available options on the language side.
I can't think of one Brit crime series that has gone on to achieve broad popularity that doesn't have the lead protagonist ensconced in a structured environment or "family". Morse, Lewis, Barnaby, Foyle, Rebus and Frost all had a support system where they could play against their "intellectually inferior" co-workers or rail against the constraints of their organization. Sherlock had the same in his Watson and Poirot had his "posse" of hanger-ons. American crime shows are even more locked into this formulae; just witness NYPD Blue, Law & Order, The Closer, etc. If you go back in time to where televised "Private Eye" fiction was more the norm that it is today even the self employed P.I. had his stable screen family to keep him grounded or, at the very least, dealing with conflict issues that added to the character and subplot of these serialized scripts (Rockford/Magnum). However, those PI feature length films that starred the lone wolf rarely made the grade. Witness the great literary detectives of the 50's and 60's, Lew Harper and Travis McGee. While the books were serial best sellers for the authors (Ross MacDonald & John D. MacDonald) the movies were mediocre at best. What's good on the written page doesn't always successfully transcend to television or the movie theatre.
That said, the Brodie character is hanging out there pretty much by himself and I'm not sure that a long distance daughter and ex wife, plus a love hate relationship with his former boss is going to cut it. They need to come up with a buddy, a stable but competing love interest, or some other friction inducing device and then establish a more fixed narrative as to how he has landed where he has in order to sustain this as a series in the future. A Tony Horowitz penned prequel that goes beyond the constraints of the Kate Atkinson novels might be just the ticket. If this is to be an ongoing series I hope year 2 will tell us more about Jackson's past and thereby insure his future. If they can bridge that divide the series has the makings of a first class production.
And just an aside regarding Jason Isaacs portrayal as Jackson Brodie; how inept does the James Bond franchise look for not wrapping this guy up as the next 007? He's the first actor since Sean Connery that could wear the role like Savile Row suit and add another decade to a flagging series.