DVD review: “Agatha Raisin – Series One & Two” (2014 – present)

“Agatha Raisin – Series One & Two” (2014 – present)

Thriller/Comedy

Running time: 123 minutes

Produced by: Barry Ryan, Michele Buck and David Walton based on Agatha Raisin by M. C. Beaton

Featuring: Ashley Jensen, Katy Wix, Matthew Horne and Jamie Glover

Agatha Raisin: “When confronted with someone who appears to be in a perpetual state of outrage, it is tempting for other people to wind them up. Besides, I have always found the most vociferous guardians of morality on matters of sex are those who aren’t getting any.”

Released recently on DVD is the comedy/thriller/whodunnit series “Agatha Raisin – Series One & Two” (2014 – present) based upon the novels by M.C. Beaton that moves the traditional detective story into a modern setting in a small village in the Cotswolds with an original character who used to run a PR company in the form of the titular Agatha Raisin.

Agatha is full of contradictions. In her professional life, she expertly helped clients navigate the treacherous waters of fame, but at the personal level she’s awkward and something of a dingbat, desperate to fit into her adopted community.

There are a few parts of “Agatha Raisin – Series One & Two” to really enjoy, firstly is the casting of the titular character with comedian Ashley Jensen who has proven over the years on both sides of the Atlantic that she knows how to tailor a performance for not only a given character but also the kind of project she is appearing in. Here she Jas to balance a person who is totally out of balance as a whole but is in control when she compartmentalises her own narrative which is one of the reasons to watch this series and why it is so successful. The fact that Agatha has visits from her pals in London assists not only the storytelling but helps to give the main character a true backstory without pushing it so that it becomes artificial. Of course the stories help as does the aspect of who is the killer in each story and of course we are exposed to different parts of small town life real or imagined it does not really matter or detract from the entire series.

Of course the fact that such a small town has such a high murder rate never comes into play as does the fact that the local constabulary are always incorrect in their conclusions but again does that hinder the enjoyment of this series? Not one iota, as it concentrates on what it means to be living in a small town, seemingly knowing more than the locals, although always relying on them to help in the solving of many mysteries.

If you enjoy eating a series that is not all doom and gloom, in fact is anything but, except for the odd murder, then this is the show for you. It is more or less violence free with a healthy does of humour and could be considered family viewing as it is on the low end of scary or offensive. It tells a story that is becoming more popular that is people leaving high stress jobs, busy cities for a quieter life, which some would argue does not really exist.

Episodes:

Series One

The Quiche of Death: A public-relations agent leaves London for a seemingly idyllic village in the Cotswolds, and soon finds herself a suspect in a murder case involving a poisoned quiche.

The Walkers of Dembley: Agatha and James must pose as a married couple and infiltrate a local rambling group, hoping to unearth a murderous secret.

Hell’s Bells: A woman is accused of strangling another villager to death with bell-rope. Agatha Raisin is hired to crack the case.

The Wellspring of Death: Roy lures Agatha back into the world of PR. She represents a local mineral water company — but a murder there throws a spanner in the works.

The Potted Gardener: On the eve of the village’s best kept garden contest many of the entrants’ gardens are sabotaged. Shortly afterwards James’ other half Mary, a keen contestant, is murdered, following a row between the couple. Since Mary’s garden was left virtually untouched Agatha initially suspects one of the other contestants, all of whom hated her, but switches her opinion upon meting Mary’s spoilt daughter and sole heir, Beth., being wrong on both counts. However a new lead is opened up on the discovery that Mary used to be a singer and music provides a clue to Agatha solving the …

The Vicious Vet: Agatha dates handsome vet Paul Bladen but next day he is murdered, injected with an overdose of horse tranquillizer whilst at Lord Pembury’s stable. Agatha spots that Pembury has a motive, as do Percy Parr, whose wife Harriet was seeing Paul, and spurned receptionist Chloe Mabbs. Then a villager about to divulge a secret about the deceased to Agatha is also killed in the same way. When the murderer kidnaps Agatha’s cat in an effort to get her to back off with her investigation this inadvertently provides a clue, enabling Agatha to solve the killings.

The Day the Floods Came: The day after Kylie Stokes’ wedding to Zac Leeson the bride is murdered and Agatha promises her mother Freda she will find the killer. There are many intrigues surrounding the bridal party, including Kylie’s affair with an older businessman whom she was seemingly blackmailing, a mysterious money gift given by Charlie Fraith and a jealous bridesmaid who apparently hated Kylie for stealing Zac from her . However it is an old photo in a local art exhibition which puts Agatha on the road to unmasking the killer.

Witch of Wyckhadden: Wrongly assuming it is a spa weekend Agatha attends a Special Paranormal Activity group at a forbidding castle, meeting local witch and clairvoyant Francie Juddle, whose taro card reading foretells Death though it is Francie who dies and Agatha discovers her murdered body clutching a card which reads Justice. Joined by her friends Agatha sees this as a sign for her to solve the crime and questions the castle’s staff and guests who recently contacted Francie. The dead woman’s sister Janine, who also claims to be clairvoyant, holds a séance to unmask the killer but it …

Murderous Marriage: Agatha’s wedding to James is interrupted by her first husband Jimmy, a down and out Agatha had assumed to be dead and who agrees to a divorce – for a financial price. Next day he is found dead and Agatha, seen arguing with him by incomer Karen Hardy, is the prime suspect. Roy’s sleuthing reveals that Jimmy was a blackmailer and an alcoholic who stayed at Hunter’s House, a rehabilitation clinic not far from the village. 

Series Two

The Wizard of Evesham: Agatha Raisin returns to the Cotswolds. At an appointment with her new stylist, the hair wizard is found dead. 

The Fairies of Fryfam: Looking to get away for a few days Agatha rents a cottage in Fryfam, a village where mythical fairies are said to live. Before Agatha can start relaxing, however, she is employed, by a local woman to prove that her wealthy husband is having an affair. But the husband winds up dead.

The Curious Curate: When a handsome and popular new curate is murdered, Sarah is arrested, and Agatha must dig into his unsavory past to clear her friend’s name.

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