Case Histories

Case Histories (DVD Cover)

Recurring character(s): Jackson Brodie (Jason Isaacs), DCI Louise Munroe (Amanda Abbington), Marlee Brodie (Millie Innes), Deborah Arnold (Zawe Ashton), Josie Brodie (Kirsty Mitchell), Marcus Stewart (Edward Corrie)

Director: Various

Original air date(s): 10/16/2011 to 10/30/2011 (US)
DVD Date: 11/08/2011

Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 347 minutes

Note(s): Screenplays adapted from three novels by Kate Atkinson: Case Histories, One Good Turn, and When Will There Be Good News?.

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Case Histories

Review: Jason Isaacs stars as ex-cop, now private investigator Jackson Brodie in this series of three two-part adaptations six episodes in total of the mysteries by Kate Atkinson.

A couple of initial observations. The casting is spot on, with Isaacs notably brilliant as Brodie. It's almost a cliche in PI novels these days that the lead character male or female, it does not matter has to be flawed in some significant manner, that their personal life is almost as troubled as their professional life, and so on and so on. Jackson Brodie is all this and more, yet somehow, some way, Isaacs breathes new life into this tired and overworked characterization. All the recurring characters deserve mention, but also noteworthy is Amanda Abbington as Brodie's former colleague and current potential love interest Detective Chief Inspector Louise Munroe and Millie Innes as Brodie's daughter Marlee; for someone so young she has a remarkable range as an actor.

More observations. The storylines are wildly complicated, almost too much so for the time frame in which they run (something less than two hours per adaptation). I haven't read any of Atkinson's books, but it's almost as if she started with a relatively simple crime then layered on several incredibly detailed subplots, cleverly connecting them yet complicated nonetheless. On top of all this is a recurring storyline with scenes from Brodie's childhood, the mystery surrounding the death of his sister Niamh. I enjoyed how the storylines developed, and they were all demanding of my attention throughout. Not necessarily a bad thing, to be sure, as it kept me from fast-forwarding through slow or boring scenes something I admit I'm apt to do at times.

The soundtrack also deserves mention. It has an almost playful quality to it, yet the crimes being investigating are anything but playful. It's an interesting contrast, and like many other aspects to the series, it shouldn't work but does and surprisingly well.

It's hard to say which of the three episodes is my favorite as they each have elements that really appeal to me as a viewer. The first one, Case Histories, gives the series its title. It's a cold case-type investigation and if had been the only one I had seen I'd have rated it excellent. But the other two may be even better, if for very different reasons. The second, One Good Turn, has as one of its guest characters a successful crime novelist caught up in a real-life mystery, always an entertaining plot device. Finally, When Will There Be Good News? has Brodie injured in a train wreck, which itself sets into motion a case that proceeds in several different, seemingly unconnected directions.

Atkinson has written (to date) only four mysteries that feature Jackson Brodie, so if the series is continued it will have to do so with original screenplays. I am unaware of any plans to produce a second season though as good as these episodes are, I would find it hard to believe that BBC wouldn't be considering it. But until then, don't miss Case Histories; it really is that good.


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