Pie in the Sky Series 3

Pie in the Sky Series 3 (DVD Cover)

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), Gary Palmer (Nicholas Lamont), Nicola (Samantha Womack), Henderson (Nick Raggett)

Director: Various

Original air date(s): 12/31/1995 to 02/04/1996
DVD Date: 09/07/2010

Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 294 minutes

Note(s): Several episodes were written by John Milne, author of the Jimmy Jenner mystery series.

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Pie in the Sky Series 3

Review: Fans of cozy-style British mysteries will be thrilled with the third series of Pie in the Sky. The series features Detective Chief Inspector Henry Crabbe, who is also a gourmet chef and runs the kitchen of a small restaurant called Pie in the Sky, owned by his wife Margaret. A running gag through the series is that Margaret can barely toast a slice of bread let alone cook a meal, and whose palate is so unrefined that she cannot discern between salmon pie and chicken casserole.

I (still) haven't seen the first season of the series, but the first episode of this season brings a storyline introduced in that first season to a close. Quite frankly, it's rather confusing and I confess I had to do a little background research to understand fully what was going on. Crabbe clearly wants to retire but has been prevented from doing so by a blackmail scheme involving his superior, ACC Freddy Fisher. The first episode here involves this blackmail scheme -- but if you aren't familiar with how it all originated, it's not clear you're going to understand how it's being played out. The episode ends with Crabbe still being unable to retire, this time because of changes in his pension.

Though all the episodes are very enjoyable, the best have a plot that involves both the restaurant and Crabbe's current investigation as a police officer. "Doggett’s Coat and Badge", in particular, stands out in this regard. It's cleverly written with a bit of a surprise twist at the end. Given that each episode is at most 50 minutes in length, there's a lot of depth to the storylines; credit the writers for keeping the plot focused and the directors for each episode's crisp direction.

There seem to be many more on-location scenes this season; on the one hand that adds interest and diversity to each episode, but on the other, it tends to take away from the series premise. Scenes set in the kitchen of Pie in the Sky, for example, are often the most entertaining.

The cast is clearly comfortable with other, and play to each other's strengths. There are, however, a couple of changes this season. Gone are Steve (the cook) and John (the waiter); new is Gary (the cook). The transition is handled seamlessly in the first episode.

Here's a synopsis of the six episodes in this series, provided by the studio:

Episode 1: "Money Talks"
Understaffed at the restaurant and under pressure from ACC Fisher for quick results on a surveillance case, Crabbe finds an out-of-work chef who may solve both his problems. The death of an arch criminal also gives him hope that early retirement is just a bit nearer.

Episode 2: "Game Pie"
ACC Fisher attends a pheasant shoot with fellow senior officers, and Crabbe handles the catering for the event. When Fisher fires a shot at a low-flying bird that appears to kill one of the estate hands, Crabbe is ordered to investigate.

Episode 3: "Irish Stew"
An American writer marries into a boisterous Irish family, who book Pie in the Sky for the wedding feast. After the author’s briefcase is stolen from his hotel room, Crabbe learns that the new husband has lost documents that he very much wants to keep secret.

Episode 4: "Doggett’s Coat and Badge"
At a celebratory lunch for a retiring police officer (alas, not Crabbe), DCI Doggett takes a keen interest in a fellow diner, one of the restaurant’s regulars. Intrigued, Crabbe decides to look into the link between the two men.

Episode 5: "This Other Eden"
Someone is stealing trees and shrubs from the yards of wealthy homes in the area. The police call in the National Horticultural Division, but Crabbe has an inside track for finding the green-thumbed thieves.

Episode 6: "Coddled Eggs"
Everywhere he turns, Crabbe feels bossed around. An officious food inspector tells him he must improve hygiene standards at Pie in the Sky or be shut down. And at his other job, Det. Supt. Chalmers dictates how to run his investigation of a stolen car ring.


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