Pie in the Sky Series 2
Recurring character(s): Detective Inspector Henry Crabbe (Richard Griffiths), Margaret Crabbe (Maggie Steed), Assistant Chief Constable Freddy Fisher (Malcolm Smith), Detective Sergeant Sophia Cambridge (Bella Enahoro), Steve (Joe Duttine), John (Ashley Russell), Nicola (Samantha Womack), Henderson (Nick Raggett)
Original air date(s): January through March 1995
DVD Date: 01/26/2010
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 492 minutes
Note(s): Several episodes were written by John Milne, author of the Jimmy Jenner mystery series.
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Review: Not only had I not seen any episodes of Pie in the Sky prior to viewing Series 2, I hadn't even heard of the series. Clearly my loss, as this is generally a delightful drama, written in the style of a cozy mystery with a minimum of action or violence, the crimes taking place off-screen and investigated by a Detective Inspector who also happens to be the head chef at his wife's restaurant called Pie in the Sky.
Richard Griffiths plays the gruff but gentle Henry Crabbe, who is semi-retired but is at the beck and call of the Middleton police department, specifically Assistant Chief Constable Freddy Fisher. (Maybe it was covered in the first season, but it isn't clear why Crabbe is beholden to Fisher. There is a vague reference to an obligation or understanding between the two in the first episode of this season, but it's assumed that Crabbe must drop his culinary duties whenever Fisher comes calling.)
Each episode features a (usually non-violent) crime that in and of itself wouldn't seem to require the attention of a Detective Inspector, much less an Assistant Chief Constable. However, there are often political or other sensitive aspects to the case that must be considered, with Crabbe, being an outsider who's also an insider, the perfect person to investigate.
The best episodes are set in and around the Pie in the Sky restaurant; these seem more true to the premise of the series. A few episodes are set elsewhere, and while they offer a change of scenery, they are also less engaging.
The plots themselves can be surprisingly intricate for series in which an episode runs only 45 minutes or so. It should be noted, however, that the pacing is typically very leisurely; an action series this is not. And, for a series set largely in the culinary world, there is surprisingly little focus on food. True, there are plenty of scenes set in the kitchen, but I would have liked to have seen more plots (such as "Brown Bread" and "The One That Got Away") tied directly to Crabbe as chef rather than Crabbe as police officer.
Richard Griffiths seems perfectly cast in the role here. It took me a couple of episodes to warm up to Maggie Steed as his wife and business partner Margaret, but they really do make for a remarkable couple. Malcolm Smith as ACC Fisher initially comes off as aloof and distant, but by the final episode ("Lemon Twist") he's shown to a little less uptight, more personable.
There are 10 episodes in Pie in the Sky Series 2; here's an overview of each provided by the studio:
Episode 1: "Hard Cheese"
A peeping tom peeps one time too many—on the wife of a senior police officer, no less—and ACC Fisher calls on Crabbe to make an arrest. Crabbe sniffs out a suspect, but the case starts to crumble after he learns that the man has more on his plate than mere peeping.
Episode 2: "Brown Bread"
Crabbe experiences the restaurateur’s worst nightmare when a customer dies in the restroom. Things get even more complicated when the body disappears. Crabbe and Sergeant Cambridge manage to track down the man’s relatives, but they soon realize that the deception has only just begun.
Episode 3: "The Policeman’s Daughter"
ACC Fisher orchestrates a police drug raid on a home where his own estranged daughter is partying with friends. The young woman goes missing soon after, and Fisher gives Crabbe the job of tracking her down.
Episode 4: "The One That Got Away"
When an old friend is arrested for murdering his fiancée, Crabbe and wife Margaret smell something fishy. Even after the man breaks down and confesses to the crime, Crabbe suspects a conspiracy, pinning his hopes on scant evidence.
Episode 5: "Dead Right"
A celebrated psychic starts to get death threats from an unknown source. Pressured to investigate, ACC Fisher foists the case onto Crabbe. As the detective closes in on a solution for the psychic, she in turn begins to solve a case for him.
Episode 6: "Black Pudding"
Elderly and ornery, Hilary Smallwood is a food writer whom Crabbe regards highly. Her nephew is also very admiring—of her estate, which he believes will fetch a fortune. He’s desperate to get his hands on her unpublished memoirs, but she resists his efforts.
Episode 7: "Swan in His Pride"
When the body of a young policewoman is fished out of the river, Crabbe delves into her last assignment. She had gone undercover to befriend the prime suspect in a murder case, even becoming romantically involved with him. Crabbe’s investigation, however, encounters opposition from the other detectives.
Episode 8: "The Mild Bunch"
Two senior citizen sisters launch a crime spree around town, aided and abetted by their nephew and his girlfriend. More of a danger, though, is a wheelchair-bound police officer, armed with a gun and awaiting the prison release of the man who shot him. Crabbe strives to solve one crime and prevent another.
Episode 9: "The Mystery of Pikey"
When a wealthy customer’s home is robbed while he and his family dine at the restaurant, suspicion falls on a young motorcycle rider. The teenager has a history of run-ins with the law, but Crabbe suspects that the burglary might have been an inside job.
Episode 10: "Lemon Twist"
After a leading food critic writes a good review, business takes off at Pie in the Sky. Margaret makes a few changes at the restaurant while Crabbe a three-day management development seminar. However, they may pay a price for success.
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