Ah, spring. The time when Masterpiece Theatre turns it's eye to crime...
Masterpiece Mystery kicks off the season with the second season of Sherlock. Creators Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss (who co-stars as Mycroft) have brought back Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman for more fun with appearances by Irene Adler and more Moriarty. I'm curious what the show will do with Adler, played by Lara Pulver. The first season was a lot of fun and this one should be no different as the show presents a Holmes who isn't middle-aged and gives a sense of how strange and unsettling a figure he could be. His outbursts may be funny at times, but they can be unsettling and Cumberbatch is unafraid to be unsympathetic.
In June, Masterpiece is repeating Zen from last year. Starring Rufus Sewell as Aurelio Zen, the series was light-hearted and entertaining, but it was very different from the books by Michael Dibdin as far as tone, too the point where I was a little thrown by the series and I'm not sure I was able to judge them on their own merits. They were enjoyable, but the books were much moodier and deeply cynical and quite frankly presented Italy as a painfully corrupt place. It wasn't light and fun like the movies at all.
July 1 marks the US premiere of Endeavour. For fans of Inspector Morse, this film is about a rookie Morse and though when it was first announced I did mock it as "Young Inspector Morse" but the honest truth is that I'll watch the movie. It was enough of a hit in the UK that they're planning a series. I'll admit that I've never quite gotten why Morse is so big. I like Morse, but I just don't why he became so big, though perhaps it's partly because he represents a certain type of Brit and was a gentleman detective.
I was more than a little skeptical about the Morse spinoff series, Inspector Lewis, but I have to say that it quickly became one of my favorites. Ken Whatley and Laurence Fox are two of my current favorite crime-solving duos and I love the different look at Oxford that the show offers.
And finally in September, we welcome autumn with Kenneth Branagh returning as Wallander in three new episodes based on the books by Haskell Manning. We all need some Swedish moodiness in our lives.
Just to point out the obvious. Part of the reasons why these shows work is because they have the time to do so. 90 minutes allows the shows a chance to setup a scenario, introduce characters, give the main characters some moments to shine and craft a mystery that's actually satisfying.