Rosemary & Thyme
Series Three

Starring: Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris
Acorn Video
RRP: 39.99
Certificate: PG
Available 03 April 2006

Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris play Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme, two sleuthing gardeners, who more than often find their clients dead in the cabbage patch, next to the doll most of the time. Employ these ladies at you own peril...

ITV has had a bit of a chequered last couple of decades as far as programming is concerned, gone are the halcyon days where they could do little wrong. So, what better way of getting an audience than smashing together two perennial favourites; gardening programmes and detective mysteries, this might seem a little desperate but what could have come up smelling of manure became a very watchable little rose. Given the strange juxtaposition of genres I'd love to have seen what was rejected, like the combination of dope growing and making a bit of extra cash in Hash in Your Attic. I mean, who would really employ these two as gardeners? One minute you're thinking of having your herbaceous border trimmed - very popular amongst some women I hear - and then bang... either you or a loved one is dead. Of course, it never hurt the show to have the consummate professionalism and abilities of Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris.

This DVD box set represents the complete run of Series Three of the series. Included on the first disc is the seasons opening story, which runs at a little over an hour long. The Cup of Silence pretty much encompasses everything about the format of the show. Our two star gardeners are hired to sort out a bit of weed trouble in a vineyard owned by one brother, the other brother owns the adjacent hotel. As the fates have decided, and the pine box round the back awaits, they meet up with an old friend of theirs, Angus, who is there to do a food and drink review. As luck would have it, bad luck that is, Angus turns up dead. Now I think about it, I really wouldn't hire these ladies. Even being their friend appears to be a terminal experience. As more dead bodies pile up and more suspects are identified, the girls' role up their sleeves and dig deep to solve the mystery.

The episode really epitomises the show. It's witty without being laugh-out-loud, it's tense without being gory or grim; in short it's the kind of thing that a whole family could sit down and watch together. One of the great things about the show is the obvious easy interplay between these two women; you really do get a feeling that they have a bond, though it's a bit disconcerting to see how easily they bestride the horrors of murder.

Disc one contains a nice set of features for fans of the show. There's A Behind the Scenes Rosemary and Thyme feature, which runs at a very respectable 45 minutes and looks at the making of the show with lots of footage of the stars making their Spanish episodes. Also included are some Production Notes and a filmography for both Pam and Felicity. Lastly the extras contain a picture gallery of ten pictures - shame you can't easily use them as computer wallpaper. There is nothing of a set-up on any of the discs, but you do get a great picture and a stereo soundtrack.

Disc two contains two stories, In a Monastery Garden and Seeds of Time and, believe it or not, exactly the same extras that appeared on disc one. Poor Felix will he get his throat cut on every disc. In a Monastery Garden sees the girls back on the trail of murder and mulch when they are asked to sort out Wellminster Cathedral's ageing herbal garden. Unfortunately the daughter of the garden's custodian is found dead. Does this have anything to do with the impending visit by the queen?

Still bizarrely employable, in Seeds of Time, the ladies are off to sort out a seed museum, now owned by the great grand daughter of the famous botanist Edwin Pargeter. Things go well until a dead South American turns up in the back garden - and I thought I had enough problems with weeds.

Disc three and the horticultural homicide continues... and would you believe it poor old Felix gets his throat cut again in the same set of extras. The disc contains three stories this time Agua Cadaver, Three Legs Good and The Gooseberry Bush and by now you'll be getting the gist of where the stories are going. Agua Cadaver, finally sees the girls in Spain - helping out one of Rosemary's ex-lovers with his Moorish garden. Dead man walking I'm thinking. But no, ten minutes in and a local girl, Maria, is found dead. At least in this episode the girls replace their dodgy land rover with a dodgy Spanish equivalent.

Three Legs Good and the girls are back in London with a three legged dog, called Holly, as a side kick. His owner Volker, a psychiatrist, turns up dead and it would seem that Holly's original leg loss may hold the clue to her owner's demise.

Last up is The Gooseberry Bush, wherein our intrepid heroines are creating a garden as a wedding present. If you ask me it's like asking Beelzebub to do your cake. For a minute, when the girls find a baby literally in a gooseberry bush, you might think that things have taken a more life enhancing direction. But no, Sir Potter is found dead, but what has this got to do with the baby?

Disc four is the last in the set and hands up who thinks that poor old Felix will get his throat cut in the same set of extras? Very odd. Apart from the same set of extras for the fourth time the disc contains the last two stories Racquet Espanol and Enter Two Gardeners. Ok you're way ahead of me, the girls are back in Spain for Racquet Espanol, and you'd have thought they would have had their passports revoked for the common good by now. Bull rings, tennis, motorcycles and some cute Spanish ladies, oh and a dead body of course. Did the paella, drink or heat kill off the tennis player? The girls whittle out the truth.

Last episode up is Enter Two Gardeners which sees both actresses return to their roots when they investigate a murder at a theatre.

In the end this isn't great art but for eleven million viewers it was great entertainment and eleven million people can't all be wrong?

Charles Packer

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