Review of Father Brown
by Julie and Jarad
Introduction: Julie got hooked on this series when she had dental surgery last year and passed the obsession onto Jarad – even Morty, that cantankerous old soul, sneaks in a viewing now and then. You may be thinking…hmmm…recommendations from people who are loopy from anesthesia and pain meds. For the record, she went for local anesthesia and laughing gas and she can’t take opioids so she was in about as right a mind as she ever manages on an average day. But it is true that, as you might suspect, the show is along the lines of comfort food. Like your grandmother’s mashed potatoes and mac and cheese (or Mrs. McCarthy’s award winning strawberry scones…you haven’t met her yet, but you should.)
All of the chickens and some of our friends have taken delight in this light and lovely fantasy of English gardens and righted wrongs, of justice, forgiveness, and redemption. Whether or not the show always measures up to our every standard, it always has its heart in the right place and right now…well, that’s something to cling to. Jarad has just finished Season 8 and it’s fresh in his mind, so he’s going to give you a taste that’s part review and part overview. If it sounds like your kind of comfort food, give it a try.
The BBC series Father Brown is easily one of my favorite shows on television right now. The English country gardens, lighthearted mysteries, and lovable characters make for a welcome reprieve from the darkness that seems to constantly surround us these days. I’ve been wanting to do this review for a while, but as I could literally sit here and bore you to tears discussing every episode and every plot, I was unsure how to go about it. So, I thought I’d pick four episodes that I liked the best and do a general discussion of the plot. Sound good? Ok. Let’s get into it.
If you don’t know, the BBC series is based on a series of short stories by Chesterton, featuring an empathetic priest who helps his local inspector solve mysteries around town. When I was first introduced to this series, I was a little wary of it, and I admit to having preconceived notions about what a series involving a catholic priest would look like. But Father Brown is not only a role model for the faithful community, but for all of us; he’s non-judgmental in the truest sense of the word, empathetic, and always tries to see the humanity in other people. We could use a bit of that right now. The show is a nice reminder to treat people who disagree with you as human, and not just an adversary. The series also features Mrs. McCarthy (the parish secretary who totally isn’t a busybody) Lady Felicia (a countess who is friends with father brown. She has left the series, but still makes an appearance or two!) and Bunty (Felicia’s niece).
I’d like to discuss my favorite episodes in this season. If you’re also an avid Father Brown Enthusiast, let us know which ones you liked best! Also, be aware of spoilers! I’m not going to not talk about what happened, now am I?
First up, The Queen Bee. The second episode in the series sees a wealthy beekeeper murdered. Several suspects are interrogated, but ultimately a much larger mystery is at play here. Like all things in Father brown, nothing is as it seems. This episode features a missing Maharajah, a crown jewel to a kingdom, a lost inheritance, and a very cruel woman. It was classic Father Brown and reminded me of the episodes from the first season. But I also like bees, so I could be biased. If you don’t like it, buzz off! (I’m very proud of that pun I’ll have you know).
The Scales of Justice- Bunty Windermere has been a powerhouse character ever since she snuck into Lady Felicia’s Manor and elicited one of her famous screams. Then there was the time she went undercover as an exotic dancer (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!). But now it seems she’s been charged with murder, and Father Brown is the only one who can help her. Well, I suppose you could count inspector Mallory, but he’s about as useful as a wet match in a dark cave. Then there’s her lawyer, who’s had a few too many. This is an episode that deals with sexual assault, and even though Father Brown is a nice, comfortable getaway, I really appreciate that they don’t shy away from issues like this. And I appreciate greatly that Bunty hit him with a branch. The mystery comes down to a needle in a haystack at the last minute. Or, more accurately, a fingernail in a grass pile.
The folly of Jephthah- Hercule Flambeau (whose name means, “Flaming Torch,”) is a dashing French roque and art thief who has been making appearances in the show or quite some time. This episode, however, he is in a contest with his daughter to see who the better thief is, and father brown is the judge. Competitive to a fault, Flambeau doesn’t want to be beaten, especially since the terms they agreed on say that whoever the loser is must return all their stolen art and give up the life of crime. There’s chess, a crime family, and a bag of bones in this episode! I always enjoy it when Flambeau turns up. It’s like if Sherlock and Moriarty were friends, but still disapproved of each other. How very English.
The tower of lost souls- The last episode of this season was, in my opinion, the best. Inspector Valentine from season one and Inspector Sullivan (my personal favorite!) from season two are teaming up with Mallory and Father Brown to uncover a dark secret locked away in a tower. Unluckily, Father Brown is afraid of heights, and since much of the episode takes place on top of that tower, he must’ve been very queasy. This story was very well written and thought out and was a satisfying end to the season. For now, I have to rewatch old episodes until next season! I think I’ll start with the ones featuring Inspector Sullivan. What? It’s not because he’s good looking or because his hair is always perfect or even that he looks damn good in a suit. A good inspector is hard to come by.