Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mr. E. Reviews: Rosemary & Thyme Series One

Mr. E. reviews mystery, suspense, thriller, and crime drama television and film for Omnimystery

Rosemary & Thyme Series One
Director: Various

Original air date(s): 08/31/2003 to 10/03/2003.
DVD release: 06/14/2005.
Studio: Acorn Media.

Recurring character(s): Rosemary Boxer (Felicity Kendal), Laura Thyme (Pam Ferris).

Rating: Not Rated.
Running time: 294 minutes.

Rosemary & Thyme Series One (DVD Cover)
More information about Rosemary & Thyme Series One

Review: I had seen but one episode of the British mystery series Rosemary & Thyme many years ago, remembering enjoying it, but somehow never got around to watching any of the others. Deciding to start at the very beginning, as it were, I ordered the six episodes that comprise the first season of the series.

Rosemary & Thyme stars Felicity Kendal and Pam Harris as, respectively, Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme, who meet in the first episode, are both at a crossroads in their lives and discover their shared love of gardening and start a landscaping business called Rosemary & Thyme. They are the only two recurring characters throughout the series, though Laura Thyme's son, police officer Matthew Thyme, shows up from time to time.

The mysteries presented in these six episodes aren't terribly demanding, requiring more thoughtful deduction on the part of the amateur sleuths (and viewers) than action. Both actors bring an incredible range of emotion to their characters; by the third episode they're comfortable with each other and us with them. And the photography is stunning, with most episodes set at manor houses or other areas with broad expanses of flora and fauna. Given that this is a garden-themed mystery, it's not surprising that the murders and/or their resolutions have something horticultural involved. Still, it's interesting how the writers have incorporated these elements into the stories.

The episodes are short, averaging under 50 minutes each, yet quite a lot happens, and though relatively little time is spent on set up or resolution, given how well the story plays out, this doesn't seem to matter much. All are murder mysteries, and for the most part, the writers play fair with the viewers in presenting all the clues needed to solve them. There are the occasional leap-of-faith scenarios, but really not enough of them to quibble about. One doesn't need to know anything about plants to enjoy the series; any specific knowledge that may be required is presented through either Rosemary or Laura.

Only 22 episodes of Rosemary & Thyme were filmed, but based on the six in the first season, I heartily recommend this series.

Episode information (from the studio):

"And No Birds Sing": While Rosemary Boxer investigates some diseased trees at the home of an old friend, Laura Thyme is reeling from being recently abandoned by her husband for a much younger woman. Leaving her home behind she finds herself in the same hotel as Rosemary, and together they uncover a sinister plot concerning Rosemary's ill friend.

"Arabica and the Early Spider": Working together as landscapers, Rosemary and Laura are enlisted by an aging rock star to help renovate the grounds of his newly acquired mansion. However when the singer is found dead and the skeleton of a horse is found nearby, the pair discover a past rivalry is rearing its head once more.

"The Language of Flowers": The two gardeners are asked by the Caldecott family to restore a grand water cascade in the grounds of their mansion-turned-health spa. Stumped by the long decayed mechanics of the feature, Rosemary and Laura soon realize all is not well: a killer is on the loose and family ties are the motive behind a murder.

"Sweet Angelica": Trying to uncover the source of disease in the lawn of a special language college, Rosemary and Laura are shocked to find a dead body at the roadside nearby. A ceremonial knife causes a stir at the school and everything appears to be centered on Angelica, one of the school's students.

"A Simple Plot": Rosemary takes Laura to see an old academic friend of hers, who is having trouble with his allotment. Flowers are dying at random and he suspects the nearby building site is to blame. A political dispute soon becomes evident and after the professor is killed, Rosemary finds herself in danger.

"The Tree of Death": Restoring a churchyard for an upcoming fair, Rosemary and Laura befriend the local vicar, but soon become entangled in a murder enquiry when a man is found impaled by an arrow to an ancient yew tree where they are working. The suspects are many, and it is up to the two gardeners to save the day.

Final note: Three novel tie-ins were written for Rosemary & Thyme. The first, in 2004, was based on the pilot episode "And No Birds Sing", while the second, in 2005, was based on final episode of the first season, "The Tree of Death". The third book, "Memory of Water", was based on the opening episode of the second season.

Rosemary & Thyme Series One

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Mr. E. Reviews is your source for mystery, suspense, thriller, and crime drama reviews of television and film.

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