Alcoholic and divorced father of a young daughter, DS Jim Bergerac is a true maverick who prefers doing things his own way, and consequently doesn't always carry out his investigations the way his boss would like.
A novelist's life ricochets from 1920s Paris to '50s New York and '80s London. Along the way he meets Ernest Hemingway, Ian Fleming and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor - the exiled British king and his mistress Wallis Simpson.
The murder of a female GP in a rural playground in front of numerous witnesses draws a group of detectives into an ever-darkening mystery that takes them across Europe, aided by mysterious notes sent by the "Ghost Detective".
As a big fan of all things mystery, I was interested in the DVD release of this rather forgotten TV show as soon as it was announced earlier this year. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an almost total disappointment.
To start on a positive note, Patricia Hodge has an unconventional but magnetic beauty, and she is a winning lead as TV presenter / aspiring writer / amateur sleuth Jemima Shore. The theme music is absolutely terrific, especially the final notes over the closing credits. And there are some nice shots of the less-glamorous side of London, circa 1983.
That's about it for the good stuff. The bad stuff begin with the decision of the company who released the Region 2 DVD not to include (at least) English subtitles. The sound is generally poor, and combined with often strange accents (if everyone had Patricia Hodge's clear diction there wouldn't be any problem, but that is definitely not the case), roughly 30% of the dialogue in any given episode is hard, or even impossible, to understand. Then there is the major problem for a mystery series: the mysteries themselves are not very engaging. There is little of the necessary "what-will-happen-next?" feeling. In fact, the episodes are pretty hard to watch in one sitting, even though they are only about 50 minutes long. Some of them barely even qualify as mysteries. The direction is usually flat, and the show looks as if it could have been made at least a decade earlier. And then there is the fact that, in the very first episode, Jemima Shore gets manhandled and slapped by a truly repulsive character (in fact, a recurring theme of the series seems to be Jemima's lousy taste in men). I understand that not every TV heroine has to be physically strong, but to have your main lead demeaned like that in the pilot of the show is just plain wrong. Patricia Hodge deserved better.
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