"Since the Brother of Death daily haunts us with dying mementoes."- Sir Thomas Browne
Where to begin, where to begin...
The Sinner and the Sandman (2014) is the second episode from the fifth, three-part season of Jonathan Creek, and as much as I hate to say it, the series is dying at its leisure. That much is obvious after tonight. The previous episode, The Letters of Septimus Noone (2014), suffered from having too many plot threads and not enough time to explore them all, but here it was the exact opposite – a five-minute brain teaser stretched into a sixty-minute episode. Nothing happened for nearly an hour!
David Renwick gives, more and more, the impression of being completely out of ideas for seemingly impossible problems for the series and tired comedy bits were thrown in as substitutions. They might as well have re-launched this season (without acknowledging it) under the title One Foot in the Grave and draw a chuckle from confusing their viewers.
Anyhow, Jonathan and Polly Creek are immersing themselves in the plain, drab everyday existence of village life, away from Jonathan’s alternative career, but there’s always a mystery to be found in the British countryside – even if they turn out to be nothing of the kind. Polly is involved with the local community center, where a scandal is brewing, and Jonathan has to make a charitable call on the local recluse, Mr. Eric Ipswich a.k.a. "The Amazing Astrodamus," whose home harbors a feat of clairvoyance from the past. Behind fifty years worth of wallpaper, they find the winning lottery numbers from a local winner with the words "WILL WIN" scrawled underneath it. Unfortunately, the (gist of the) solution should occur to everyone almost immediately, especially after the cross symbol is found, with the real the real problem being how to verify it. Renwick nicely tied a problem to this apparent act of clairvoyance, but coincidence is the key word for both of them. That's why I didn’t tag this review with "Locked Room Mysteries" and "Impossible Crimes" labels.
There are slight, almost residue traces of the supernatural when the arrival of a baby at the vicarage coincides with reports of a shadowy, hunchbacked beast with glowing eyes prowling the garden and going through the trash. Again, there's not much of interest here and presented only to deliver an obvious punch line at the end. Only time Jonathan Creek made me laugh this season was in the previous episode, when one of the characters suddenly realized she had read a text message meant for Polly and bellowed on for a full minute how glad she is it wasn’t her dad who'd just died – with Polly sitting right next to her! So dark. Comedy here hardly deserves a second look.
The "Sandman" from the episode title is a figure from Polly's nightmare and the dream sequence suggests this was a British relative of Uncle Paul who urged Polly to keep grown-up secrets, but whereas comedy was attempted to draw from the other plot-thread, here it was to create a forced, emotional moment to end the show with. It was so sweet... I'm still wiping the diabetes from the corner of my eyes.
Finally, I hope to have a regular review up this weekend. Hopefully.