Jonathan Creek: The Clue of the Savant’s Thumb

“The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

I was really quite excited when I heard that there was to be a new episode of Jonathan Creek on BBC1 this Easter. Magical murder mystery starring Alan Davies as scatty Dirk Gently-type detective? Count me in!

The Clue of the Savant’s Thumb involved the old plot of the Locked Room – the body of a polymath disappears from a locked room literally from under the nose of his wife. As a side plot, there’s the mystery of what went on one night at a Catholic boarding school when four of the pupils woke up with weird circles on their foreheads, and one of them woke up dead. And, just for laughs, a random bit of government-conspiracy-theory thrown in at the end.

It was an incredibly messy episode. Three mysteries that apparently have very little to do with each other, one of which appears entirely gratuitous and has absolutely no lead-up until the last fifteen minutes; some very wooden acting from Rik Mayall as a wheelchair-bound genius and Hasina Haque as the polymath’s daughter; and a contrived, unbelievable solution. Even Sherlock couldn’t have worked it out from what we were told. Combined with a couple of unexplained coincidences (Mayall’s character somehow managed to get up some stairs in a wheelchair; there was something going on in the East Barn, despite the fact that it was the wrong place) and, oh God, one of those awful Death in Paradise-style denouements where the oh-so-clever detective expounds everything he knows in front of the suspects, it was a train wreck of a show that made me wish I had watched Broadchurch instead. At least that has David Tennant in it.

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