'Father Brown - Season Six'
(Mark Williams, Sorcha Cusack, Emer Kenny, Jack Deam, Nancy Carroll, Alex price, et al / 2-DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)
Overview: Father Brown returns to solve more mysteries in the sleepy Cotswold village of Kembleford in this charming series based on the short stories by G K Chesterton.
DVD Verdict: In truth, I've loved this "new" series since day one, but I'm also well aware that there was an earlier incarnation of it back in the '70s too.
That series starred Kenneth More as Father Brown and lasted just the one season and 13 episodes. However, and having seen both, my favorite is still this one starring the brilliant Mark Williams as the titular Father Brown.
This sixth series sees Father Brown investigate a suspicious death at a residential home, a body in a trunk at a railway station, the death of a young lady from the local Girls School, a local bowls match that quickly rolls out of control when it becomes a murder scene, and the finale episode centers around Father Brown's nemesis, Hercule Flambeau’s (supposedly) untimely death in Italy.
Back when I was living in the UK, I used to love an afternoon after lunch watching Father Brown. I mean, sure, it's complete and utter nonsense, granted, but it's very easy to watch; always amusing and sometimes rather engaging too.
Having now watched all 10 episodes of this wonderful sixth season, all I can say is that they are as good as they ever were. Sure they go by wildly too quickly, more so if you binge watch a handful of them, but Mark Williams is wonderfully cast in the lead.
He is such a naturally funny man who knows when to be serious and when to inject a touch of humor. Again, sure, it's a wee bit heavy handed in lot points sometimes, but it's also very rarely overplayed.
Sorcha Cusack is excellent as Mrs McCarthy, so often a gossip and prickly in nature, and yet somehow she makes her likable. Always well acted throughout is the highly desirable Lady Felicia (Nancy Carroll) and the new acquisition to the fold, Bunty (Emer Kenny).
Another favorite guest performance has been John Light's Flambeau, who returns, one way or another, to Father Brown's home turf in aid of his detecting skills. Light always adds something to an episode and in this final one of the sixth series, he manages to trump his own previous on-screen efforts (in my humble opinion).
The only continual let down for me is Jack Deam as the local plod aka Inspector Mallory. With a character straight out of a '30s/'40s Ealing comedy, his vocal tone, his continual annoyance with the crime solving Father is just nails down a chalk board, sorry.
Regardless, and over all, Father Brown perfectly encompasses the gardens of Rosemary & Thyme, the quaint village settings of Grantchester, the clue dropping, albeit much slower pace of Death in Paradise, and the ridiculously high murder rate of Midsomer Murders!
Episode 1 – The Tree of Truth
It’s December and Father Brown, Mrs McCarthy and Bunty are visited by an old friend as they make mince pies and decorate the presbytery. Sid, has returned for Christmas, bearing gifts from Lady Felicia. Meanwhile as locals walk through the woods, a dog uncovers a partially skeletonized hand in the cold ground.
Episode 2 – The Jackdaw’s Revenge
On the day of her execution, Katherine Corven is unexpectedly exonerated and released, much to Father Brown, Mrs McCarthy and Bunty’s dismay. Waiting outside Sonning Prison, Robin and Eddie from the Kembleford Gazette, push their way through the crowd of reporters to hear Katherine say that those who wronged her will answer to God!
Episode 3 – The Kembleford Dragon
Julia Webb boasts about her award winning hanging baskets to Mrs McCarthy as Ben Webb shows the station inspector, Deepak around the train station. Pandora, the new cleaner at St Mary’s, gets off the train and immediately frustrates Mrs McCarthy. Deepak leaves a poster for Ben and as Julia pins it on the noticeboard, Ben collapses from a heart attack, reading: ‘Notice of Closure’.
Episode 4 – The Angel of Mercy
At Powderham House residential home, Mrs McCarthy visits a friend, Freda, who appears to be at the end of her tether with her painful illness. Death hanging over Kembleford, the gang attends the local handyman’s funeral, along with a new addition to St Mary’s, Caitlin, who was thrown out of a convent.
Episode 5 – The Face of the Enemy
In Northern Rhodesia Lady Felicia lies in bed with Benedict Lewis. His return to England imminent, Lady Felicia finally decides to join Benedict and tell Monty that she’s leaving him. Along with Sid they surprise a delighted Father Brown, Mrs McCarthy and Bunty at the Presbytery. Later Lady Felicia is intercepted at the train station by her old adversary Daniel Whittaker, who explains that Benedict is a soviet spy and important blueprints have been stolen from the Ministry of Defence.
Episode 6 – The Devil You Know
In an attempt to show involvement in the community, Inspector Mallory joins the Kembleford Bowls Club. Christina Worcester, the Club Secretary, introduces Mallory to the local players, Roger, Shirley and Christina’s husband Eric. Alec Frobisher strolls onto the green, where Shirley, much to Roger’s disappointment, takes an immediate shine to his charming brother.
Episode 7 – The Dance of Death
Oliver interrupts Alexander and Lucy’s dance practise, telling Alexander that if he wins the ballroom dance competition, he’ll tell him who took his sight. Lady Rose Dalton the owner of the house hosting the competition, shows Father Brown, Mrs McCarthy and Bunty around. Noticing Alexander across the hall, Bunty approaches him to take her for a spin. Merryn, Oliver’s dance partner, unpacks her things with the help of Lucy, who shows off her new necklace.
Episode 8 – The Cat of Mastigatus
Sefton Scott welcomes parents, students and teachers to Kemble Martyrs Boys School fete. Bunty eyes an egg and spoon race and Mrs McCarthy agrees to compete with her. Heading towards the cake table, Father Brown meets a pupil from the Girls’ School next door, May Lewis who swipes the last three macaroons. Even though he’s meant to be the best, Sefton’s grandson Daniel Gates gives a poor cricket demonstration, but Mrs McCarthy thrives in the egg and spoon race and takes home the rosette.
Episode 9 – The Flower of the Fairway
Meeting with Raylan Reeve at his new golf course, Father Brown and Mrs McCarthy discover ‘Go Home – or die’ burnt into the grass. Inspector Mallory pays a visit to Hermione, who has a clear motive for vandalism after her garden has been compromised for Raylan’s extensive golf course, but finds nothing to pin the crime on her. The next day at the golf tournament, the women’s cup sees Bunty competing, in disguise as ‘Miss Desiree Lecoq’, being careful in case her father finds out about this pastime.
Episode 10 – The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau
When Father Brown reads about Hercule Flambeau’s untimely death in Italy, he revisits a cryptic letter and key recently sent to him by Flambeau. Meanwhile, The Iron Crown of Lombardy, a crown holding a nail that was used in the crucifixion of Christ, arrives at Gloucester Cathedral. After Mass, Father Brown is greeted by Lisandra, who reveals herself to be Flambeau’s new wife. She recounts the day that he died and reveals that she knows about the letter and the key.
You can argue they are very loosely based on Chesterton's novels, but that shouldn't sway you away from enjoying them nonetheless. For me, the series just keeps getting better and better as it goes on, although the stand out series for me thus far was the quite brilliant third season. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.