I've been quietly falling in love with this new-ish throwback BBC mystery series called Father Brown, and I have the urge to talk about it on my blog. The show stars Mark Williams as Father Brown (whom you may know as Arthur Weasley - Ron Weasley's father). and the show centers around a very kindly priest in 1950s England, who has a knack for solving crimes. And who actually can not be stopped from pursuing his investigations even when the local constabulary want him to stop. I find this show so delightful, and for this post I'm going to list the reasons why I love it and perhaps convince other people to give it a try!
The character of Father BrownOne of the delights of the show is how endearing and hilarious Father Brown is as he attempts to get around the Inspector, and solve the crime before he gets caught out. He's dealt with some very saddening and awful crimes as well, but his sense of justice, faith and integrity makes him the perfect person to deal with the aftermath. Father Brown as a character is especially wonderful to me, because even though he is religious he has some liberal views that really just embraces the fact that everyone deserves love and respect. And with a mystery show, it is of course important that he follows logic before he considers otherworldly explanations. He's warm-hearted, kindly, and with an unexpected sense of humor. Mark Williams portrays him perfectly!
The cinematographyI'm also so enamored with the setting and the cinematography of this show! It's filmed in the Cotswolds in England which is a gorgeous rural, old fashioned looking part of England - and the show features the beauty of the area perfectly. On my next trip to England, I'm making it a point to visit the Cotswolds! I don't know why I haven't made it there before. Truly this show has some breathtaking shots.
The time period is also a draw for me - I like a good period piece - and the fact that this is a period mystery show - like Agatha Christie's Poirot - makes it even more attractive. Weirdly it's somehow nice to settle in with a time when murder wasn't graphic and gritty. I mean, it's all about the mystery, and not so much the gore of how someone was murdered. Yet, this show isn't so old-fashioned that it doesn't show murder and terrible things realistically. There have been some uncomfortable topics broached that I wouldn't think I would see in a period mystery, but this show blends the innocence of the time with modern sensibilities nicely.
The supporting cast
Father Brown has a small collection of friends who usually assist him in his investigations. There is Mrs. McCarthy - the church secretary who is slightly officious and opinionated, but also motherly, with a good heart and she often clashes with Lady Felicia, a bored socialite who dallies outside of marriage sometimes, but is a very compassionate and generous woman. And then there's Sid - Lady Felicia's chauffeur, and one-time thief, who puts some of his myriad of skills to use for Father Brown when he needs them. The supporting cast is quirky, and they all have their moments of humor which adds to the fun of the show. I love how well they work together as a cast of characters - and how there still seems to be more to learn about them as the series goes on.
This is more of a personal reason actually. I started watching this show because Sorcha Cusack, who plays Mrs. McCarthy, played Jane Eyre in the 1973 adaptation which happens to be my favorite version of Jane Eyre. She was wonderful as Jane, and it's lovely to see her in role that is so different from that. She's not very sweet in this, and she has a strong Irish accent, so it's great to see that range (though of course, it's not surprising, as she is a talented actress). I may be biased, but Mrs. McCarthy is a favorite of mine from the show, because of the humor in how uncompromising and prejudiced she can be when she seems like she would be such a sweet and nice lady, but thankfully Father Brown is having a positive influence on her, and the moments when her compassion unexpectedly shine through is wonderful. And I always crave strawberry scones when I watch this. Mrs. McCarthy makes award winning ones dontcha know. :)
The show is based on the character and stories by G.K. Chesterton, but from what I've read about that, the show takes a lot of liberties with the source material. I haven't read the original stories yet, but I hope to someday to compare. There is a part of me though that feels like I will be disappointed by the stories because I love the show so much!
In case an old fashioned murder mystery series with modern sensibilities is appealing to you, you can watch "Father Brown" in the U.S. on the PBS station - usually at 8pm or 9pm on the weekends. If you check it out - let me know how you like it!