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"Pie In The Sky" is one of those great little programs that comes along now and then and which the British are so good at creating. It is well scripted and well acted and the cast contains two great character actors, Richard Griffiths and Maggie Steed as (Inspector) Henry Crabbe and Margaret Crabbe. Henry just wants to retire from the force with his police pension and run his restaurant but is prevented by ACC Freddie Fisher. Henry's ability to solve crimes makes Fisher look good to his superiors. Bella Enahoro as Cambridge and Samantha Janus as Nicola are just gorgeous. One even picks up a few recipe tips along the way. It's a shame it didn't run for longer but all good things must come to an end and it's one of those shows that I continue to watch in repeats.
'Pie in the Sky' is the name of a country restaurant run by part-time Detective Inspector Henry Crabbe and his accountant wife, Margaret. Henry makes the world's greatest steak and kidney pies and would cheerfully retire from the police force. Assistant Chief Constable Freddie Fisher, however, won't okay his retirement for reasons I won't disclose. Freddie calls in Henry to solve difficult cases which are likely to cause embarrassment to senior members of the local police force. There are moments of drama in this series, but these are tempered by an underlying streak of gentle humour. A wonderful cast, great scripts, as well as cooking lessons from Henry, in between the action. Take note of Bella Enahoro who plays 'Cambridge' in the first five seasons. She and Henry make a great duo!
As a teenager I didn't appreciate Pie In The Sky when it first aired in the mid 90's. However, it's being re-run in an early evening slot on ITV3 at the moment & it's well worth watching again. As mentioned in other comments, the plots often follow a similar path in each episode & Henry almost invariably solves the crime or saves the day single handedly. This is only a very minor flaw though. The scripts & dialogue are great & the excellent cast really bring it all to life. Richard Griffiths is a brilliant character actor & Henry Crabbe is played with an understated charm that most actors would not be able to carry off. This charm & subtlety is carried throughout the whole series & I haven't seen a single bad episode yet. It's also worth mentioning the sheer number of characters in the series. Many of the restaurant staff & Police officers appear regularly from episode to episode but the writers have put real effort into giving them all distinct personalities. I never get the feeling that they are just cardboard cut-outs put there just to advance the plot. Pie In The Sky is very enjoyable light viewing with more than enough substance to keep me interested for the whole 40 episodes.
What a wonderful series this is, I use to watch it when first aired
back in the 1990s and thoroughly enjoyed every episode. I have always
wanted to own the complete series on DVD but was put off by the high
price. The series on DVD has now been deleted and the price is even
higher.I hope that the BBC will re-release this series at a much more
I know a lot of you will hate me for saying this, but all the characters apart from one is superb. That 'Cambridge' she's far too stuffy with no real sense of humour (like an android) and causes an atmosphere.....well I did warn you.
Good News!! Have just noticed that this wonderful series will be re-released on DVD end of August for around £70.00 it will contain 16 discs(still a bit pricey...£29.99 would be better)......Amazon has just reduced their's to just under £40.00p Think now's the time to buy.
Thanks for reading my small review.
Just finished watching the first four episodes of this police series via Netflix. And it's a pleasure to report that at least thus far, there have been no serial killers, blood-spattered bedrooms or lethal shoot-outs. Just a series of gentle, slyly amusing capers. Even more of a pleasure is that the central character, detective inspector Henry Crabbe, is a gourmet chef who has opened a charming little restaurant while awaiting his retirement. And to complete the pleasures, there's Richard Griffiths as Crabbe, lovingly basting a leg of lamb or whipping up a glorious soufflé when he isn't waddling off to probe some criminal conspiracy. For instance, the mystery of a bank robber, dead some 16 years ago, who has turned up very much alive in the local village. Solving such puzzles is duck soup for Crabbe. Leaving his stove in mid-simmer to hunt down a villain is another kettle of fish. If you're looking for raw red meat, this probably isn't for you. But if you have a taste for subtler fare, this series could be just the dish.
"Pie in the Sky" is a guilty pleasure of mine: not great television,
but I admit a show I watched religiously.
It follows the police and restaurant life of one Henry Crabbe (Richard Griffiths). He is a Detective Inspector who gets shot in the line of duty, following which he wants to retire to open a restaurant - the titular "Pie in the Sky" - as cooking, especially of good English styled cuisine, is his passion in life. However standing in his way of this dream is his boss, Assistant Chief Constable Freddy Fisher (Malcolm Sinclair), who refuses to issue a full retirement pension because the incident in which Henry was shot has raised some questions about Henry's police conduct. In reality, Freddy knows that Henry is innocent of any impropriety, but uses this only as a reason to keep Henry, Freddy's "brains", on the force: Henry does all the brain work, Freddy gets all the glory. However, Freddy does allow Henry to work on a part-time or "on call/as need be basis" (i.e. whenever Freddy is in a jam, which is always) while the shooting incident is investigated. This leaves the possibility of a full pension in the future if Henry is cleared, but in the meantime also allows Henry to open his dream restaurant with all this extra time he has on his hands. The second conflict in the series is between Henry and his accountant wife Margaret (Maggie Steed). Margaret supports Henry in his dream - in actuality, the restaurant is under her name - however in her mind the restaurant needs to be solely operated in a cost efficient/effective manner regardless of the result on food quality. This stance is enhanced by the fact that Margaret is a non-foodie who does not appreciate good cooking: she would much rather eat a bag of crisps than to sample Henry's creations. The remaining cast of characters are an assortment of police constables/sergeants working with Henry (played by Bella Enahoro, Darren Litten and Mary Woodvine) and restaurant staff (wait staff played by Ashley Russell, Alison McKenna, Samantha Janus and Marsha Thomason; kitchen staff played by Joe Duttine and Nicholas Lamont; produce supplier/farmer played by Nick Raggett). The one other story twist is that both of his assistant chefs are reformed ex-cons on the "mend" they are basically good people who had been caught in bad circumstances prior to Henry's salvation of their lives. Their love of cooking and food outweighs their police records.
The strength of the show is that the main cast of characters are likable, even that of Freddy Fisher. As such, you root for the characters in whatever situation they may face. Even when there are conflicts between main characters, such as the episode where John the waiter (Ashley Russell) and Steve the chef (Joe Duttine) are constantly at each others' throats, you like them both because they are basically good people but just different personalities. All the story lines are the classic "good" versus "bad", and very rarely do characters fit into that grey area in the middle. Even when guest characters fit into that grey area, they are always portrayed in the end as either on the side of good or bad. The other strength of the show is the food. Much like food themed movies like "Babette's Feast" or "Eat Drink Man Woman", there is an obvious love of food by the series creators. Yes, one really would like to sample Henry, Steve and Gary's (Nicholas Lamont) culinary creations, perhaps with the exception of the episode with the Stargazy Pie. And based on the series' concept, "good English cuisine" is not an oxymoron.
Beyond some holes in the basic series' concept, the weakness of the show is that the characters are a little too extreme in their portrayal, especially that of Henry and Freddy. Henry is just a little too smart (he is right 99% of the time) and Freddy a little too callous. With the former, Cambridge (Bella Enahoro), Guthrie (Darren Litten) and Morton (Mary Woodvine) all come off as capable enough police officers, but dim wits compared to the ever knowing Henry. No fault of the any of the actors but rather of the writers.
Overall, an entertaining but somewhat mindless and inoffensive series. A pure guilty pleasure.
I really don't have any quibbles about this series. Until recently I could only access the first couple of series in New Zealand but have just finished a marathon of Pie in the Sky and have become totally hooked. Apparently not wanting terror, blood and guts in a detective series means that it is lightweight, if that is so, then so be it. However the story lines are decidedly chewy and the characters have substance. I did miss Cambridge when she disappeared - her clothes were stunning - and I was disappointed that Nicola didn't last the full term, but the rest of the cast/team were splendid and reacted beautifully to one another. Fisher is a complete prat, and it is a well written and well acted character that makes one want to smack him soundly on the nose. As for Richard Griffiths and Maggie Steed, no praise is high enough. It's a great watch and worth anybody's time and brain power - without getting an ulcer through stress at the same time.
here in new england we depend on PBS or BBC America for good English
programming. I stumbled on this show last year. It is a light detective
show with good character portrayals. Griffiths is great. They only seem
to run the same 10 episodes over and over, i see there are 33 episodes.
Might have to buy the DVD. It would be worth it.
I wonder why it didn't go more seasons. Was it not well received? Some shows are better than others, some a little fluffy, others delve more into his detectives ability to see through mysteries at his waddling slow pace. I know Richard Griffiths has done other work, I first saw him in naked gun. But i believe some of his best screen work is here.
One of those yearnings for simpler, happier times led me to reflect on
life in the nineties and seeing this a few times lately on ITV3 only
helped to foster sentimental memories of a less complex age.
It may only be lightweight, but that's its beauty and delight. Richard Griffiths is excellent and was made for his role as the wise, phlegmatic and unconventional inspector. His portly frame hardly lends itself to much frenetic activity, but his facial expressions are a joy and all you need.
A good mix of stories, not always featuring murder, and the slice of restaurant life is a warm counter to the police activity. Plenty of understated humour from a cast of colourful characters.
In 1995 I thought that the century was ending at a pretty fast and bewildering pace, with technology and media beginning to impose itself in almost every walk of life. But watching "Pie" and remembering it all as if it were only yesterday makes me think that maybe life wasn't so fast after all. Fifteen years on and what I find so curious now is that it was made just before the world went nuts with mobile phones and The Internet. It's a show that has dated well in terms of story, but to never see anybody use a mobile phone and scant mention of computers seems strange and rather sweet.
All in all, a really good example of BBC light drama at its best, when the Corporation considered subtlety and intelligence as important as glamour and ratings.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Here's an usual combination, we have a detective series crossed with
the story of a chef opening his own restaurant.
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter's Uncle Vernon) plays Henry Crabbe a Detective Inspector all set for retirement when he is shot in the line of duty. Thinking he is all done with that phase of life and ready to open his own restaurant named "Pie in the Sky" he is frustrated to find that his superior is still in need of his services and therefore finds a reason to question the circumstances of Crabbe's injury. Using the threat of his pension he persuades Crabbe to continue to assist him on the occasional investigation.
The mysteries aren't as complex nor as dark as most contemporary detective series which some will appreciate, and we also get a show dedicated to classic British food.
The mystery aspect gets shortchanged a little for a couple of reasons. The first is the length of the episodes which is comparable to a one hour American network show and there really isn't enough time to build up an array of viable suspects in that amount of time. The other reason although not as important is the attention upon the restaurant, its staff and their food. While a more complex mystery would be appreciated some of the enjoyment and certainly the uniqueness of the series comes from the food.
The series has some good performances, though the standout is certainly Richard Griffiths character and his performance, it's a far cry from other detectives and likely from other roles you may have seen him in before. In support Maggie Steed as Henry's wife Margaret and Malcolm Sinclair as ACC Fisher give strong supporting performances throughout the series.
For those that like there detective stories on the light side, this series is certainly to be appreciated. My one complaint would be that occasionally the balance between the mystery and the restaurant is off and the resulting episodes aren't quite as enjoyable as they could be.
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