Mini Review: “Jonathan Creek – Daemon’s Roost” (TV Show Episode)


Earlier this evening, I was feeling somewhat tired when I happened to remember a comment on my latest “Sherlock” review which recommended the “Jonathan Creek” Christmas special.

From the description and a few other things I’d read online, I was very curious about the show (curious enough to order some DVDs of it when I saw that they were going cheap online) and then I remembered that there was still an episode of it on the BBC’s iPlayer.

I’d originally planned to watch the first few minutes of “Daemon’s Roost” just to see whether the show was anything like what I imagined it would be like, but I ended up watching the whole thing. All ninety minutes of it. So, I thought that I’d review it.

This review contains some SPOILERS.

“Daemon’s Roost” begins with a wonderfully melodramatic 1970s Hammer Horror-style trailer for a film about someone called Jacob Surtees who used evil magic to murder men by levitating them into a fiery portal, whilst forcing their lovers to watch helplessly.

In the present day, the director of this film is an old man who is dying and has summoned his stepdaughter and her husband to his old mansion in order to tell them something important. The old mansion where Jacob Surtees used to live in the 19th century….

Meanwhile, Jonathan Creek and his wife Polly are moving into a new house in the countryside. There’s still a lot of stuff from Johnathan’s old house to be sorted through, a local scarecrow-building competition, an eccentric vicar and a paroled criminal who is out to get revenge on Jonathan.

Following a series of strange events at the mansion and a near-miss with the criminal, Johnathan and Polly end up retreating to the mansion to investigate….

One of the first things that I will say about this episode is that it is an absolutely perfect blend of old-school horror, eccentric comedy and Sherlock Holmes-style detection. In other words, it fits into three of my favourite genres! Ok, there wasn’t anything from the cyberpunk genre in there, but it was still one of the best modern TV shows I’ve seen for a while.

Imagine a cross between James Herbert’s “Haunted”, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Musgrave Ritual” and …something else (I’m not sure what)… and that would be a good description of the atmosphere of this episode. The horror-based scenes are genuinely suspensful. The detection-based scenes are well-thought out and filled with interesting deductions and fiendish schemes.

The comedy in this episode is slightly on the subtle side, but it not only will make you smile at least a few times, it also gives this episode a uniquely quirky atmosphere too. Plus, there are also a few brilliantly cynical moments of dark comedy in this episode (such as a laugh-out-loud scene involving delayed funeral directors, and a body’s temporary resting place).

In terms of the characterisation in this episode, it’s surprisingly good. Although I haven’t seen any other episodes of “Jonathan Creek” at the time of writing, there was enough characterisation to ensure that the episode wasn’t confusing. Many of the characters are realistic enough to be believable, but eccentric enough to be interesting. Whilst Jonathan Creek might be a genius detective, he also seems like the kind of person who you might find drinking cider in an old pub on a saturday afternoon.

The best supporting character by far probably has to be the vicar. Whether he’s trying to conduct an exorcism (whilst receiving instructions by phone) or talking enthusiastically about random subjects, he manages to be authentically vicar-y (if this is even a word), whilst also being gleefully irreverent and enthusiastically eccentric at the same time.

As for the mystery itself, some parts of it are a little bit contrived – but this is done in a knowingly theatrical way that is reminiscent of 1950s American horror comics or some of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s more unusual detective stories (like “The Problem Of Thor Bridge”). Plus, there is a logical explanation for every strange thing that happens in this episode. Something the writers of the BBC’s “Sherlock” series could learn a thing or two from! Best of all, there are even a few red herrings and hidden clues too.

Likewise, one part of the ending has a surprisingly Holmesian touch to it, when Jonathan actually decides to let the culprit go (since he didn’t entirely disagree with the crime and also feels guilty about not preventing it when he could have done). But, in a stroke of genius, this scene is also slightly played for laughs too.

Jonathan, Polly and the vicar go to all of the trouble to set up a meeting with the culprit in a fancy restaurant. There’s even a vaguely Agatha Christie/Conan Doyle-like scene where Jonathan explains how and why the crime was committed. And then everyone just kind of shrugs and lets the culprit go becacuse, they’re just four people sitting in a restaurant and.. well.. what else are they going to do? Cause a scene? This scene is both theatrical and realistic at the same time, and it is hilarious!

All in all, I really loved this episode. I’m honestly surprised that I’ve never watched an episode of this show before, despite hearing about it occasionally. This episode contains so many brilliant things – ominously creepy horror, distinctive characters, Holmesian deductions and quirky comedy. This is an episode that manages to be both brilliantly stylised and brilliantly realistic at the same time. It’s brilliant!

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would just about get a five.


Today’s Art (19th December 2016)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the first comic in “Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2016)“, a short festive six-comic webcomic mini series. More of these webcomic mini series can be found in the “2016” section of this page. But, if you just want to read one, then just click here.

Yes, the Tory budget cuts have not been kind to the BBC. In fact, there will literally be just one episode of “Doctor Who” this year!

As regular readers of this site probably know, I tend to make these comics quite far in advance – so, the only real source material I had to draw on when it came to imagining the “Doctor Who” christmas special was this short clip released earlier this year.

Since this is a “Doctor Who” parody cartoon, this comic update will NOT be released under a Creative Commons licence of any kind.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania - A Cynical Christmas (2016) - Doctor Who" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2016) – Doctor Who” By C. A. Brown

Mini Review: “Doctor Who – Last Christmas” (TV Show Episode)

2015 Artwork doctor who last christmas review sketch

Since I’ve just finished watching the Christmas special episode “Doctor Who”, I thought that I’d write a review of it. Since I’m in kind of a hurry at the moment, this will only be a short review (compared to the ones I wrote for the last series of “Doctor Who”) and it probably won’t contain too much of a plot summary.

Before I go any further, I should also point out that this review will contain SPOILERS. You have been warned.

Like many Christmas specials, “Last Christmas” initially starts out as a story where the Doctor and Clara have to team up with Santa Claus (played by Nick Frost) in order to save Christmas.

The Doctor, of course, isn’t a huge fan of Santa Claus – but, even so, it seems like it’s going to be like any one of a thousand other Christmas specials for a thousand other programs.

However, when the TARDIS touches down near a research facility at the North Pole where half of the scientists there have fallen victim to facehugger-like creatures called “dream crabs” (who kill their victims by slowly dissolving their brains whilst distracting them by inducing a dream-like state), it soon turns out that things aren’t quite what they seem…..

Normally, I’m extremely sceptical about Christmas episodes of “Doctor Who”, since some of them have been mediocre at best. So, when I saw that this was an episode involving Santa Claus, I didn’t exactly have very high hopes for it. However, I quickly realised that I had seriously underestimated this episode. This is probably one of my favourite episodes of “Doctor Who”. Ever.

As well as the similarities to “Alien” ( and, yes, one of the characters actually mentions this during the episode), this is an episode about the whole concept of unreliable realities.

Unreliable realities are one of my favourite things in both the sci-fi and horror genres and the entire episode is filled with lots of wonderfully surreal moments and lots of confusion about whether the characters are dreaming or awake. In other words, it’s a horror episode. And it’s a really cool one.

Not only are the “Alien”-like scenes in the North Pole base really cool and suspenseful, but the special effects in these scenes are remarkably good too. The creatures actually look like something from a Hollywood horror movie and they are some of the best “Doctor Who” creatures that I’ve ever seen – even if they are pretty much just a rip-off of the facehuggers from “Alien”.

However, there is at least one major plot hole. Near the beginning of the episode, the Doctor at least implies that if someone is attacked by a dream crab, then forcibly removing the crab will probably kill them. Yet, by the end of the episode, he is somehow easily able to remove dream crabs from people’s faces just by stunning them with his sonic scredriver.

But, for all of the wonderfully-directed horror scenes and chillingly dark plot twists in this episode, there’s a surprising amount of humour too. Seriously, the scenes with Santa Claus and his elves are absolutely hilarious and casting Nick Frost as Santa Claus was an absolute stroke of genius.

Plus, the episode handles the subject of whether Santa is real or not in a far more mature and intelligent way than I had expected from the brief preview of the episode that was shown during “Comic Relief” a few weeks ago.

All of the supporting characters in this episode are surprisingly good too and my favourite character is probably one of the scientists at the base called Shona, who is wonderfully sarcastic, eccentric and cynical.

However, one of the other scientists (I can’t remember his name) was so obviously unlikeable – albeit in a subtle way – that it wasn’t really a huge surprise when it turned out that he doesn’t survive the episode. Seriously, as soon as you first see him, you just know that he’s not going to survive to the end of the episode.

But, apart from this one predictable thing, the rest of the episode goes in all sorts of gloriously unpredictable and dramatic directions.

Not only that, Danny Pink also makes a wonderfully poignant cameo appearance in this episode too.

All in all “Last Christmas” is an absolutely brilliant episode. It’s intelligent, it’s creepy and it’s hilarious. Let’s hope that future Christmas specials of “Doctor Who” are up to the same standard as this episode.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a five.