'Pie In the Sky - Series 4'
(Richard Griffiths, Maggie Steed, Malcolm Sinclair, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / (1996) 2010 / Acorn Media)
Overview: Detective Inspector Henry Crabbe (Richard Griffiths, Harry Potter, The History Boys) divides his time between catching criminals and his true passion - cooking. The proprietor of Pie in the Sky, his dream restaurant, Crabbe had hoped to while away his retirement serving up his favorite dishes with his accountant wife, Margaret (Maggie Steed, Shine on Harvey Moon). But his boss, Assistant Chief Constable Freddy Fisher (Malcolm Sinclair, Casino Royale), is determined to keep his best detective on the payroll, tackling the cases that only Crabbe’s deft touch can solve.
DVD Verdict: In this first episode of the penultimate end of series set, 'Devils on Horseback: Part 1' begins by Margaret (the always lovely Maggie Steed) forcing Henry (the always intense Griffiths) to a day at the races. But, as all things must in Henry's world, a young stable lad is found dead there and his boss, Chief Constable Freddy Fisher (Malcolm Sinclair); also a guest there, suddenly turns to Henry to 'sort it out.'
Along with his Doctor Watson, in the form of trusty DS Cambridge (Bella Enahoro - although her long, straight, dyed hair doesn't look right, it has to be said!), they get to work - whilst Margaret looks over the books of one of the owners of the horse that the dead stable boy looked after. The episode culminates in another brutal murder.
'Devils on Horseback: Part 2' picks up with that murder of another stable lad, before a very unexpected prime suspect is apprehended for his murder. As the remainder of the tale is lazily played out, for we know the real killer of these two isn't who they have in custody, Margaret plays the detective herself - and nearly pays the price for it too!
In the third episode, 'Chinese Whispers,' a local Chinese takeaway seems to be under threat from yobs at night re: fire bombs and such. Henry, whilst picking up an order there one night - lemon chicken, so it must be good! - speaks to May, the daughter of the owner; but he doesn't want Henry's help as much as she does.
It turns out that widowed Mr. Chen is a gambler deeply in debt to a restaurateur in London's Chinatown who has been has been threatening him for the money he owes.
The subplot to this episode is that Pie In The Sky gets entered into the Great British Grub Contest 1996, and after making their way to the Finals, find themselves, of course, winning in style - albeit, as Margaret finds out too late, due to more than just the quality of the food.
In 'New Leaf,' a (nasty) blast from the past comes back to haunt Henderson (Nick Raggett), and Fisher allocates Henry to guard Sasha Wilkes, a wife who is due to testify against her gangster husband. Called to a country safe house, Sasha is a real bitch to all around her - including Henry, until some of his fine cooking begins to mellow her!
And, as it turns out, Henderson's visitor, a rogue DCI (Harding), and Sasha are all linked here, but one of the more interesting facts revealed is Henderson's real first name! Who knew?!
In 'Breaking Bread,' to save money Fisher turns over the police catering to a mass production company, The Happy Ploughman. As seems to always be the case, The Happy Ploughman are also clients of Margaret's book keeping, so she gets involved when a business function between the Met and The Happy Ploughman comes under siege.
The story gets a very nice twist two-thirds of the way through, but then decides to run away with it completely! That said, one of the suspects, a local baker herself, Flora McKee is rather lovely to look at throughout the entire episode!
In the final episode, 'Gary's Cake,' well, to say this one starts out like a scene from the Keystone Cops is an understatement! Armed robbers in crash helmets target the Pie In The Sky one night, and a rich customer's jewellery is stolen. Nicola (the deeply-tanned, and beautiful Samantha Janus) has a new boyfriend, Paul, who all believe to be a bit dodgy, and Gary still has his love for her at boiling point!
An up-his-own-ass DS Slater investigates the crime, doing his best to find the truth, sure, but at the same time alienating everyone with his insistence that it was an inside job re: the fact that both Gary and Henderson have prior criminal records.
The story drags a little as they knock on a few doors, but the ending is well played out. Gary finally seems to be getting somewhere with Nicola, after she dumps Paul for being married, but looks can be deceptive - for, SPOILER ALERT! come the last season, season 5, she is no longer a member of the cast!
And, at the end of this episode, the end of season 4, Fisher informs Henry of a change he needs to make to his life - a change that shocks both he and Margaret but that is not revealed to us! But, SPOILER ALERT! what that change is, come season five, is Henry is appointed as the head of the Public Duties Squad, which essentially sells its services to the private sector! And, instead of the trusty D.S. Cambridge, he has two new staff members, WPC Jane Morton and PC Ed Guthrie as back-up!
FYI: The building in Hemel Hempstead, UK that was used as Henry Crabbe's restaurant was a florist at the time of filming, but has now become a restaurant named 'Pie in the Sky' in real life! [RT] This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.