DVD Review: Father Brown Season Three
DVD Review– Father Brown- Season 3, Part 1
I love G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown mysteries. They are beautifully and intelligently written, intellectually and spiritually challenging, and some of the cleverest mysteries ever created. A television series based on Chesterton’s short stories ought to be brilliant television.
However, the BBC’s current Father Brown series takes the Chestertonian brand name and creates a product that bears only a cursory resemblance to the original material. This DVD set contains the first eight episodes of the fifteen-episode third series. Six are wholly original stories; two are loosely based on Chesterton’s stories. Some of the original narratives are marked by great premises, like Cold War spies at a secret MI5 base, a suspected ancient Egyptian curse, and a country retreat for playboys, but none of the new stories has a terrific mystery behind it. For that matter, the adaptation of “The Invisible Man” jettisons the classic solution that tells so much about ordinary powers of observation, though the updated and transplanted take on Chesterton’s “The Sign of the Broken Sword” is head and shoulders the best of this bunch of episodes.
What is most irksome about this series is that it fails to make Father Brown the inspirational figure he ought to be. Perhaps the BBC doesn’t want to be accused of religious proselytizing, but whatever their motives, the series goes out of its way to make him ineffectual, incapable of inspiring his closest friends to avoid sin, and failing to come up with even a basic rejoinder to slurs against his church. Mark Williams always gives a warm and heartfelt performance as Father Brown, but he could be doing so much more with better material. We’re getting rhinestones instead of diamonds.
If this series didn’t use the Chesterton and Father Brown names, I’d be a lot warmer toward it. As it stands, it’s a light comedy that avoids the deep moral and spiritual matters that give Chesterton’s work strength, power, and resonance.
Father Brown- Season 3, Part 1
BBC Home Entertainment