The crime procedural is such a peculiar beast and has existed for decades in our desire to solve a puzzle and find the truth behind a grizzly crime. We go back four decades to revisit the adventures of G.K. Chesterton's beloved character to see "Father Brown: The Complete Collection" and actor Kenneth More in the title role deliver us a gentle but effective precursor to some of the crime procedural TV dramas that we have today.
Not even heaven and the lord above can help any murderer that crossed paths with one of the few crime solvers to ever wear a cassock as Father Brown (Kenneth More) and his unique blend of kindly manors, an occasional air of being just a little absent-minded alongside his infallible logic and keen understanding of the human experience make him a foe worthy of even the best criminal mind in 1920's England.
A decidedly PG effort compared to the "Broadchurch" and "True Detective" type efforts these days, but back in 1974 this was some deliciously saucy fun that still holds up today and shows the roots of shows like "Bones" and many others that exist in the pop culture lexicon today.
With an almost Agatha Christie type feel to the writing, this show much like many other British procedurals takes place in the countryside and on the vast estates of the rich and powerful that our protagonist just happens to be visiting. The character is pulled straight from the short stories and books from author G.K. Chesterton and hits a note perfect vibe, as the murders never get too grizzly or serious.
More about the mystery, then the macabre this is a series that rests firmly on the character and charisma of its star. Kenneth More plays the eccentric priest to a tee crafting a genuine air of playfulness, even in the face of the crime of murder. It plays into our very human nature to simply want to solve puzzles, even if they aren't terribly complex at times because it is much more an experience about the journey then it is about that actual whodunit and bringing a perpetrator to justice.
Each of these 13 episodes, adapted from a short story by Chesterton makes "Father Brown: The Complete Collection" an entertaining little venture into crime fighting that manages some humor along with mystery. Shows like "Bones" & "Castle" that sprinkle humor into the mayhem owe a direct debt to the adventures of the unassuming Father Brown and these 13 episodes truly do make for a unique piece of television history.
4 out of 5 stars.
Picture and sound quality on this 4 DVD set is a little degraded due to the fact that is 40 years old, but it is still a clean watch and the special feature on this set is a biography of G.K. Chesterton.
"Father Brown: The Complete Collection" is now available for purchase on DVD from all major retailers.