Father Brown series 2 so far – and a poll

Maddest of All

Maddest of All

Well, we’re half-way through series 2 of Father Brown (they don’t hang around in Kembleford). Some things are the same as always. There is the obligatory daily mention of Mrs McCarthy’s prize-winning strawberry scones. Fans of the anachronism will like lines such as the posh lady spitting ‘Man up, St. John’ at her son. And Mark Williams’ Father Brown is still meddling in police business, probably to the detriment of matins.

But some things are different. No sooner are we used to his new musketeerish beard than Inspector Valentine is off to a new job in the Met. His dapper replacement Inspector Sullivan is even more hostile to priestly interference than Valentine, but to me looks more like a 50s police detective.

More striking is the series’ left-turn into darker territory. We kick off in spooky mode with The Ghost in the Machine. Charlotte McKinley’s sister disappeared some years ago. Opinion is divided – was she killed or did she elope? Charlotte believes the former, and moreover thinks she has come back to haunt her. Unwillingly – ‘there’s no such thing as ghosts’ – Brown conducts a very businesslike exorcism, but to no avail. That dark and stormy night Charlotte vanishes without trace from right underneath the noses of her family.

Episode 2, Maddest of All, stays creepy with a visit to a 1950s lunatic asylum (although it is, comfortingly, a ‘non-invasive’ one). Patient Felix Underwood wanders into Kembleford, disorientated, dressed in his pyjamas and dying. Underwood has walked out of Danvers Retreat, a nearby asylum run by the kindly Dr Henshaw and the rather more formidable Nurse Farrow. Underwood’s story isn’t quite over – there’s a big surprise in store. Brown realises he must get himself committed in order to solve the mystery. Cue a nod (possibly unconscious, given the series’ fidelity to the original stories) to The Innocence of Father Brown with a bout of soup throwing.

The Pride of the Prydes rewinds a few centuries to medieval times, with a proper wicked witch cursing her oppressors. Fast forward back to the 50s and we find the impoverished Pryde family about to lose their castle to death duties. Dotty old retainer Audrey Diggle gets shot in the back by a longbow – but was head of the family St. John Pryde the real target?

The Shadow of the Scaffold opens with a hanging. Violet Fernsley has been convicted of killing her husband Ivan, but Brown doesn’t trust the police and resolves to look into their investigation. This takes him into pretty grim territory – Ivan’s family of drooling Cold Comfort Farm rustics. All of a sudden we’ve got fingers in sausages and hints of cannibalism. Maybe that’s what happened to last series’ Polish cleaner Susie Jasinski, who has vanished without trace. Anyway, what better way to end an episode, than with a Father Brown stuffed fox, complete with glasses and a little black hat?

Episode 5, The Mysteries of the Rosary, begins with a chloroforming (Mrs Offences: ‘I think that’s probably the best way to be murdered’). Brown is up against an old adversary in a race to find a valuable relic. The biggest mystery of all, of course, is why does Father Brown go to sleep with his glasses on?

Overall, I think the show is getting into more interesting territory and has benefitted from an injection of black humour.

If you’ve been watching, you can tell me what you think using the poll I just decided to put at the end of this post…

The next five episodes are:

6. The Daughters of Jerusalem
Father Brown investigates when a woman of Kembleford’s WI dies in mysterious circumstances

7. The Three Tools of Death
Father Brown helps a woman whose father is killed just weeks after her mother’s death.

8. The Prize of Colonel Gerard
Father Brown is unconvinced when an ex-prisoner of war is suspected of killing his uncle.

9. The Grim Reaper
Father Brown must figure out who is sending a series of poison pen letters.

10. The Laws of Motion
Inspector Sullivan resolves to put an end to Father Brown’s meddling for good.

See also:

The BBC’s episode guide for series 2

Creative Commons License

About pastoffences

Past Offences exists to review classic crime and mystery books, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
This entry was posted in Classic mystery book review, Father Brown, Locked room mystery, TV, Witness Statements and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Father Brown series 2 so far – and a poll

  1. Thanks for this, Rich. They’ve been piling up on my recorder so I’ll catch up soon. As I didn’t mind the first series, I’m looking forward to these.


  2. I’ve voted yes overall, although I have mixed feelings – I thought the Cold Comfort Farm one was terrible!


  3. Thanks Rich – I wasn’t that keen on the first series but am recording these so will get round to them soon I hope!


  4. Pingback: Father Brown series 2 | Past Offences

  5. Carolyn Bannister says:

    Bit puzzled as we have viewed Series 1 but not 2. Did we miss it entirely or what? Love it anyway but put out by the omission.


    • westwoodrich says:

      Hi Carolyn

      I guess it depends where you are… In the UK we’ve just had series 2, which was immediately followed by a repeat of series 1. I assume everywhere else is still on series 1.


  6. Ed van Someren says:

    In Netherlands the episode 1 and 2 of Father Brown aired on our national TV . Both episodes have fallen into the taste off many viewers including myself. Mark williams played Father Brown in a witty and sublime way. it seems he has been appointed for this role by God.This also applies to his fellow players. Hopefully that multiple episodes come out of this beautiful drama serie.


  7. ces silva says:

    i love the Father Brown series. i like the country life, the scenery and the little parish with the village people. I like also Midsomers Murders and Poirot and Miss Marple. I have watched all the episodes from the above series except Father Brown. I hope Father Brown will continue and not stop filming. The series is a feel good watch for me. Simple, funny and light thriller but not dark and violent like the other American thriller, murder series.


  8. Charles says:

    The church used for the series is much too old to be a Catholic church. Remember that it was only in the early 19th century that RCs were emancipated! Also, I can’t believe in an early 1950s RC priest who works out in the gym. The man is far too brawny. Nothing wrong with that in contemporary terms, and nothing wrong with it anyway, but that wouldn’t have held good at the time, and he might have had to add “pride” (at least) to his next confession!


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