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"Jonathan Creek" The Judas Tree (2010)

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Like a Swiss cheese - tastes good but is full of holes.

5/10
Author: last-picture-show from London, England
10 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Despite the obvious budget constraints this extended episode showed great promise at the start with some interesting characters and some meaty puzzles for Jonathan to get his teeth into. But about halfway through it suddenly started to unravel and every supposed answer to a mystery led to more questions which remained unanswered. Like a Swiss cheese, it tastes good but is full of holes.

To start with if Dore and his wife had planned the whole thing as an elaborate act of revenge wouldn't they be a bit perturbed when world-famous mystery-solver Jonathan Creek turned up? Isn't he likely to spot what's going on? So when Jonathan and Joey get trapped in the coal cellar wouldn't it be more likely that Dore or his wife trapped them in there on purpose to keep them out of the way instead of it being the accident that it was.

This means that the Dores didn't know that Jonathan and Joey are conveniently out of the way they should have been worried that they might show up in the middle of the 'murder' and spoil the whole thing. Added to this weren't they worried that Emily might also show up in the garden in the middle of the 'murder' when she was supposedly in the upstairs room pushing Mrs Dore out of the window. Their plan depended on split second timing and they seem to have left everything to chance for it to work which is unlikely for two intelligent people.

Also we learn that in order to plan their revenge the Dores managed to trace both Emily and her friend. Then Mrs Dore had the wherewithal to kidnap Emily's friend, keep her (drugged?) in the coal cellar and then kill her at precisely the right time in order to use her for the elaborate fake murder scene. And she also had to remove her from the cellar so she wasn't there when Jonathan and Joey started searching the place. And the business of ensuring the body would land on the railing spikes. How on earth would they rehearse such a thing? All that demands a huge stretch of the imagination, more than I think even the most gullible viewer has.

Also after the murder how did the Dores know that the two witnesses would both go inside enabling them to switch the bodies back? If one of them had stayed their plan would have been scuppered.

Plus are we supposed to believe that for the sake of executing revenge on her husband's brother's killers Mrs Dore was prepared to live the rest of her life as a recluse with no contact with her family sand friends? Or were they in on it as well?

Also I was confused by the the role of the priest. I thought at first that he was C of E but the fact that he took confession means he must have been Catholic. Do they normally have such Catholic churches in rural England? And at the end were we supposed to think that Dore killed the priest to stop him from reporting what he thought he had heard to the Police?

If the place where the Judas tree is planted is where Emily and her friend killed Dore's brother wouldn't Emily have recognised it from the map she finds in their office?.

Emily does not look anywhere near old enough to be twenty years older than she was in 1988 and it didn't help that the younger Emily was played by an actress that looked nothing like her. That only served to confuse matters further.

In the Victorian legend they never explained how Selima had the ability to fill the Doctor's watch with HCN gas. Was she both a scientist and an engineer? And how did she find an exact replica of his watch to make the device?

Of course fanciful explanations and occasional inconsistencies are all part of the fun of Jonathan Creek and normally I would ignore them but usually the chemistry and comedy between Creek and his collaborator make up for it. Sadly the comedy elements in this episode were rather forced and frankly unfunny. For example the scene in the cellar where Jonathan relieves himself in the cat litter. If all he was doing was having a pee why didn't he do it straight into the bag? Also the scene where Mr Dore comes to the neighbours house to hide the pipe and Jonathan and Joey are forced to hide. This is only done so Joey can get stuck in the vase. Considering they had just learned how Mrs Dore had hidden from Emily in the bathroom why didn't they just do the same thing? (and regarding hiding the bamboo pipe, wouldn't it have been more fun if Dore had placed it in one of the numerous pot plants there as a cane, that would be a more JC-style solution than hiding it in a drawer).

Also the scenes where Jonathan picks Emily up at a bus stop and takes her back to a hotel room were not only unfunny and highly unlikely (Creek is too uptight to be so spontaneous) but were also unnecessary as they did nothing to serve the plot.

When David Renwick is on form he is excellent but when he is not it is somewhat embarrassing to watch. There were a few One Foot In The Grave episodes which suffered in a similar way but this perhaps is the worst yet. Of course it may not be entirely his fault but whoever is responsible I hope they consider more credible plots and funnier sub plots in any future episodes.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Sleek and slightly creaky...

7/10
Author: jc-osms from United Kingdom
4 January 2011

Friends of mine swear by this old-fashioned spooky Edgar Allen Poe meets Agatha Christie-type suspense show which I finally got to watch for the first time, albeit accidentally, in a festive season re-run by the BBC. Stumbling over it, I was hooked by the intriguing opening scene of the now-you-see-it-now-now-you-don't disappearing house before the real mystery over the death of crime-writer Paul McGann's wife by his new, fetching young housemaid, takes over.

Not being a regular viewer, all the stuff about Alan Davies' title character's magician boss passed me by, but to be fair this just bookended the main story of murder and illusion, which fantastical as it was, still held my attention throughout. Creek's deductions and explanations beggar belief, but in this era of docu-drama police procedurals, I was pleasantly entertained by this throwback to an almost 1960's type 'tec show. In fact it reminded me of nothing so much as an adult, live-action "Scooby Doo" without the dog!

I like Alan Davies anyway and he's good in this as the slightly muddling but more often methodical mystical sleuth. On the strength of this, I'd certainly wouldn't say no to any future gift of the previous series boxed set, if any of my relatives ever read this.

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A complex but rewarding case for Creek.

7/10
Author: Paul Evans from Swansea, United Kingdom
5 June 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Emily takes up a post as assistant housekeeper to successful writer Hugo Dore, where he lives with his wife Harriet and consciousness housekeeper Mrs Gantry. Mrs Gantry recounts a grizzly tale to Emily, a death that occurred in that house many years ago, Doctor Northcote fell for beautiful servant Selima Al Sharad, but falls foul of her curse when he spurns her. Historical events come to life as Emily falls under Selima's curse, Harriet is first targeted through nasty letters, then murdered.

Nobody can accuse David Renwick of lacking an imagination, The Judas Tree is wonderfully layered and complete, possibly even too much so for the casual viewer, but serious fans like myself love the complicated crimes, and seeing the great duffle coated one solve them. Plenty of twists, just when you think you've figured it out at the end, more things happen.

Paul McGann and Sasha Behar are excellent as the married couple, and so are Doreen Mantle and Ian McNeice, they create excellent characters, plain to see why Renwick is such a fan of Doreen Mantle, using her in lots of his shows, she's so funny. The Adam Klaus scenes as always very funny.

Some really good dark moments, overall it's not my favourite case, but its still very enjoyable, Davies and Smith make a super double act. 7/10

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Silly but fun

7/10
Author: Tweekums from United Kingdom
5 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This latest instalment of Jonathan Creek contained the elements we have come to expect from the series; apparently impossible crimes, including a couple of old mysteries and his employer being made to look a fool yet again. The story opens with two young women driving along a country lane during the 1980s, they stop to look at a map and one, Emily, looks across a field, sees a house and suggests going to ask for directions but her friend says there is no house and when she looks back it has indeed gone, when she goes to investigate her leg is grabbed by a strange man crawling around in the long grass, she gets away but when we next see her she is still effected even though over twenty years have passed. She is now working as a servant in a country house that has its own mystery dating back to the nineteenth century when the owner died at the exact time predicted in a death threat although there was no sign of foul play and no way for anybody to get near the victim. When the woman in the house gets a death threat the new servant contacts Joey Ross who turns up to investigate with Jonathan who has already had an awkward encounter with Emily. Things get worse for Emily when the woman is thrown from a window and identifies her as the killer before dying.

The investigation was was as barmy as ever with Jonathan giving solutions to the old mysteries with no real proof and the ultimate solution to the main mystery is somewhat weakened by the fact that there is no indication of the motive until the end. All these flaws didn't really matter though as the show was a lot of fun; Alan Davies does a good job as Jonathan Creek, delivering explanations to convoluted mysteries as though it was obvious all along, Sheridan Smith playing Joey makes a good sidekick, it is nice that there no suggestion of any sexual feelings between them even though she is clearly pretty as that would detract from the main story. While it was only a small part of the story the scenes involving Jonathan's boss were very funny; after an indiscreet remark he has been forced to apologise but each time somebody has posted an edited version of his apology on line which shows him in a less than flattering light.

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

mesh

7/10
Author: ajgillhespy from United Kingdom
5 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Car radio in 1988 (shown in two scenes) is clearly very, extremely and definitely digital.

Somebody else commented that DNA would have revealed the dead woman to be Mr D's wife.... but they did actually explain that DNA testing didn't need to be done because he identified her at the scene.

Unlike other JC episodes, this one is quite impossible for the audience to figure out for themselves.

Also, on a technical level, this episode looks as if it has been made by students. Poor shot composition, lighting and colour grading.

Nice.

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