BBC Video // 1994 // 479 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // November 19th, 2009
"I'll give you an answer when I'm sure you mean the question." -- Charlotte Cavendish, giving a non-answer to Lovejoy's marriage proposal
It looks like Lovejoy and Charlotte will find happiness together toward the season's end, but viewers never got to see it: Season Six was the swan song for this show about the East Anglia antiques dealer who too often finds himself "helping police with their inquiries." Based on the novels by Jonathan Gash, Lovejoy had a run of seventy-five episodes, a rare feat in British television. Thus, it's worth a look at Lovejoy: The Complete Season Six.
Lovejoy: The Complete Season Six has ten episodes on three discs:
* "Fair Exchange"
Lovejoy's in the frame for the theft of a painting from Charlotte (Caroline Langrishe, Pulaski). His rival for her affections wants her to believe the divvy guilty. Fortunately, Beth (Diane Parish, EastEnders) is leading the investigation.
* "Day of Reckoning"
Lovejoy never liked games as much as Max Hunter, an antiques dealer who murdered his wife, believing she slept with Lovejoy. However, Max has kidnapped Charlotte, making this chess match a game of life and death.
* "Somewhere -- Over the Rainbow?"
Lovejoy is tracking down a missing Tinker, who was awfully distracted before he took off. It has something to do with an old postcard.
* "Double Edged Sword"
The woman (Julia Sawalha, Absolutely Fabulous) who stole a samurai sword from a shady client wants a confrontation with Lovejoy.
* "Guns and Roses": Lovejoy's antique gun is found at the scene of a robbery. The gun was in the shop, which could create a problem for Lovejoy's gunsmith friend.
* "The Last of the Uzkoks"
Charlotte hires Lovejoy to value part of a communion set; she minds when he takes on a few extra clients for the same task. Meanwhile, Charlie Gimbert's father turns up.
* "Breaking the Broker"
A too-enthusiastic copper pinches Tinker for possessing obscene figurines, setting in motion a chain of events which finds Lovejoy and friends stinging a shady pawnbroker.
* "Fruit of the Desert"
A diplomat wants $100,000 cash for some antiques that he admits should have gone to the Foreign Office. Lovejoy could make a quick profit, but he sees the chance for a big score.
* "Holding the Baby"
Lovejoy outwits a house clearance client and a rival dealer to get a bargain on a side cabinet, but there's payback in the air. Meanwhile, Charlotte's maternal instincts come out when she babysits her godson.
* "Last Tango in Lavenham"
As the impending sale of Felsham Hall threatens to put Lovejoy out in the cold, Sam Cavendish and Tinker Dill urge him to marry Charlotte. There really is a last tango, since Lovejoy and Jane Felsham (Phyllis Logan, The McGuffin) meet up again at a dance.
I'll have to admit that I didn't care for "Last Tango in Lavenham," the episode that finishes the long-running series. It's not just because, after listening to Lovejoy and Charlotte argue so much throughout the season, it's hard to believe that he would propose, or that she would accept. It's more the abruptness of the ending, which even has Lovejoy standing in front of Felsham Hall, simply telling us how the story ends. When I first saw it, I thought it must have been a cliffhanger to be resolved in a season that never happened. It could also be that the writers were trying to fudge, since Lovejoy has risen from the TV graveyard before (Series One was in 1986; Series Two didn't arrive until 1991).
Season Six starts out strongly, though, with Beth, Lovejoy's new assistant, taking the lead in clearing Lovejoy's name after he's framed for a robbery. While she's normally honest and even blunt, she's willing to lie to give her boss an alibi. When that fails, she heads out on her own to investigate, and even takes charge of Lovejoy and Tinker. It's interesting that Charlotte Cavendish, unlike Lady Jane Felsham, Lovejoy's previous partner-in-borderline-crime, immediately suspects him of stealing a painting he coveted from her home and hitting her with a door. Even Dennis, the requisite skeptical copper, has more faith in the shady antique dealer's character than that.
Throughout the series, Charlotte's emotions toward Lovejoy run a wild range, from explosive to tender, and she's always ready to trade notes with other women, particularly Lovejoy's past romantic interests (including Phyllis Logan's Janie), on his shortcomings. It's often funny, but it does wear thin, despite Caroline Langrishe's expert balancing act in keeping Charlotte believable and likable. Of course, Ian McShane's Lovejoy isn't all innocent. He's greedy -- even risking his daughter's flat on a big score at one point -- and often ill-tempered when things go wrong. In typical TV detective show fashion, though, his antics are tempered by his loyalty and determination; when Sam Cavendish, Charlotte's father, is attacked by robbers at an archaeological dig, he's the one who tracks down the culprits.
For the most part, Season Six juggles humor and mystery well. "Day of Reckoning," which puts Lovejoy in a classic race against time, is especially compelling on the mystery front, and "Somewhere -- Over the Rainbow?," "Double Edged Sword," and "Breaking the Broker" provide strong character moments. The last three episodes are weaker as the series turns to giving Lovejoy and Charlotte internal revelations designed to push them toward matrimony. As usual, the endings are a bit miraculous, with the discovery of a rare antique or some other deus ex machina at precisely the right moment.
The transfer is decent; there are no glaring flaws that drew my attention.
In his extra, "Ian McShane Talks About Lovejoy, Part Six," the actor talks about starting work on Deadwood and the possibility that it could last six seasons as well. I'd have probably clipped that part from the interview, since it didn't quite pan out.
If you're not already a Lovejoy fan, Lovejoy: The Complete Season Six is hardly the place to start. The show's winding down toward a finale that's not all that good. I'd suggest going back to Series One if you're a purist, or Series Two if you want to see Lovejoy as it found its natural rhythm. If you've seen the first five seasons, though, it should be worth watching how it turned out.
The ending's a bit of a letdown, but Lovejoy manages to wriggle off the hook one last time. Not quite guilty.
Review content copyright © 2009 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 479 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated