Hurrah, it’s olde worlde rural England. You can tell that from the font they’ve used for the titles. Ah yes, let’s settle down to a nice bit of light gossiping over the teacups – bloomin ‘eck! It’s all gone Midsomer Murders.
Ian McShane creeping about, looking sinister, wondering where all the antiques are, and then bumping someone off. Yes, brutally kills him, by, um, pushing him over. His victim doesn’t even bang his head. That’s a bit like lighting a match to a birthday cake and the whole thing going up in flames because someone’s secretly covered it in brandy. Unexpected. It certainly was for McShane who looked deeply puzzled that one push had proved fatal.
Phew, here we are in olde worlde England, a rural garden with some ladies and teacups. But, shield my eyes – the colours are so bright and garish they must have let a five year old with some Magic Markers loose on the film. It looks exactly like that Specsavers ident crossed with an Utterly Butterly ad. I couldn’t actually concentrate on what they were saying a) they were so OTT and b) I was wondering if a bee was going to alight on their floral headgear. But one of them was getting married and another one wasn’t going to be a bridesmaid.
Fortunately Doctor Thorne (Tom Hollander) enters the fray fairly soon after this and it settles down. Hollander is a truly fabulous actor, but I wish they could have borrowed some of his barbed put-downs as Corky from The Night Manager, currently rivalling this rather plodding pudding in the time slot on the Beeb. He does sardonic, quirky oddballs so very well, but in Doctor Thorne, he is mostly required to be earnest and indignant on behalf of his illegitimate niece Mary. She will no doubt inherit all the cash and therefore get to thumb her nose at the stuck-up lot who don’t want her cluttering up the place with her wicked designs on the only son Frank.
We see McShane’s Scatcherd twenty years on, permanently several dozen sheets to the wind, making Hollander trot in and out on all manner of tasks. Thorne’s not only the doctor, he’s the legal advisor, the executor and the negotiator of loans. And obviously the keeper of this massive secret that his niece is also Scatcherd’s niece. No wonder he’s so worn out, although he does get to be marvellously frosty with Front (aka Rebecca) who seems to be forever in corset these days. Flouncing out, he declares Mary ‘will not set foot in this house again.’
Bride-to-be Augusta’s ‘intended’ is a curious fellow. Rightly named Moffatt, for he has eaten all the curds and whey within a twenty-mile radius; he is a boor who has no appreciation for the finer things in life, such as Shakespeare, manners or a razor. He broke into a most extraordinary chuckle when his future sister-in-law flirted with him, looking just like a baby seeing a psychedelic shape-sorter toy, if the baby chose to sport a ginormous beard.
He wasn’t the only one who looked like they’d been on substances. Miss Dunstable, the rich American, carried a miniature parasol, which resembled a portobello mushroom, or maybe a magic one, because she broke into cackles at the least provocation. She declared she was looking for at least three lovers, but didn’t seem in the least put out that the most obvious candidate, Frank, was too busy mooning about Mary to her. Perhaps she and Moffatt could have a laugh-off, starting twelve paces apart and advancing towards each other guffawing and hooting until one of them fell over.