Hetty Wainthropp is now gaining a reputation as a sleuth and
becoming very popular wherever something requires her no nonsense
brand of investigation. Robert, as usual, is worried about
the finances and Geoffrey is keen to get trendy transport.
Hetty isn't in it for the money as she finds solving problems
and helping others reward enough...
Wainthropp, based on the novels by David Cook, follows
a great English tradition of eccentric female characters which
solve murder mysteries. Like her forbearer Miss Marple, especially
played by Margaret Rutherford, Hetty takes her little notebook
and her odd English affectations and tries to help people
whose lives have taken a turn for the worst. The show stars
Patricia Routledge, whose previous series for television had
been Keeping up Appearances, where her portrayal of
Hyacinth had amused the public for many a year. That's not
to suggest that Patricia is any lightweight as her work on
the stage and in Alan Bennett's Talking Heads plainly
showed. For sidekicks, and every hero needs one, Hetty had
her dependable husband Robert, played by the excellently laconic
Derek Benfield and Dominic Monaghan, who plays the ever enthusiastic
Geoffrey, who has subsequently found fame and fortune in The
Lord of the Rings
two discs in this set represent the entirety of season two,
which only consist of six episodes. Each disc is presented
in the original stereo and for the most part the picture is
clear if a little soft. There are no extras to speak off,
just the option for subtitles, filmographies and a picture
gallery containing fourteen pictures.
first disc contains the first three episodes Poison Pen,
Lost Chords and Runaways. All the stories are
of the little England sort, small domestic crimes in a rural
or suburban setting. What Hetty Wainthropp does so
well is character interaction; there is something very domestic
about the crimes, her home life and Hetty's investigations.
It's a joy to watch the characters even when they are not
investigating a crime.
Pen sees Hetty off to solve, well a poison pen problem
which seems to be the work of a local spinster Helga. Hetty
goes undercover to find who is sending them. The boys, as
boys will, decide that they are not doing enough and unbeknownst
to Hetty take on a case of their own.
Chords sees the Wainthropp Detective Agency investigating
why the finalists in the Blainthorp music festival are all
loosing their voices. Hetty suspects foul play, but is she
right? Poor old Robert even gets arrested, though he was doing
a great impression of a dirty old man at the time.
on the first disc is Runaways, which starts with the
introduction of a very grim family with the mother and son
arguing about the son's inability to make money or find a
woman, but what has this to do with the disappearance of the
Mayor's daughter? An old dead woman and a missing young one,
can Hetty find the connection?
Disc two holds the last three episodes in this way too short
a season. The episodes include The Astral Plane, A
Rose by Any Other Name and Woman of the Year. In
The Astral Plane, Hetty really should be careful about
pretending to be someone else. This time she gets into all
sorts of trouble when she investigates a medium by pretending
to have a dead husband. This works well until her supposedly
dead husband's daughter turns up at her door. What has Geoffrey
been up to now?
A Rose by Any Other Name, Hetty is asked to investigate
Lester Rose (get it? Ah such word play) whose potential new
family feel that he is marrying their daughter for money rather
than love. Hetty discovers that Lester has a chequered past
but does that make him poor husband material?
in the season is Woman of the Year and Hetty is off
undercover at a woman's refuge. Her experience opens her eyes
to the realities of abuse within families.
What makes Hetty Wainthropp such compulsive watching,
apart from the great cast, is the idea that not everything
has to end in a murder. In this the programme is much more
subtle than some of its competitors. Here are, generally,
stories of not evil people, but people whose lives have gone
astray - astray to the point where Hetty, pure of heart and
with the best of intentions, attempts to rescue. As an audience
it's a good message that not everyone who needs to be investigated
is necessarily evil at heart and sometime the world can just
be too big a place to live in.
a good, if short, series that can be enjoyed by the whole
family and shows that if you put quality in you get quality
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