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Case Number 18187

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Pie In The Sky: Series 2

Acorn Media // 1995 // 492 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // January 27th, 2010

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart considers this meat-pie maker/sleuth the anti-Sweeney Todd.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Pie In The Sky: Series 1 (published May 21st, 2009), Pie In The Sky: Series 3 (published August 15th, 2010), Pie In The Sky: Series 4 (published January 19th, 2011), and Pie In The Sky: Series 5 (published July 14th, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

"You had to be the avuncular DI Crabbe. That's your trouble. You've got to be liked by everyone."—ACC Freddy Fisher (who doesn't have that trouble)

Opening Statement

Actually, DI Henry Crabbe (Richard Griffiths, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) is a reluctant copper, pressed into service by ACC Freddy Fisher (Malcolm Sinclair, V For Vendetta) to handle touchy cases. Crabbe prefers making meat pies full-time at his restaurant, Pie in the Sky. It's a good thing that Crabbe does have years of experience as a detective, though, since you never know when a dead body might turn up at his restaurant. After all, this is Pie in the Sky: Series 2, the second series in a long-running British TV detective dramedy.

Facts of the Case

Pie in the Sky: Series 2 features ten episodes on three discs:

Disc One
• "Hard Cheese"
Just after Crabbe starts his investigation of an obscene caller, his wife Margaret gets a call from the same man. Meanwhile, a cheese man's marriage plans are breaking hearts throughout Middleton's restaurant scene.

• "Brown Bread"
"Making off with dead customers is a bit over the top, isn't it?" Crabbe says when his wife claims one was found in the bathroom and made off with. Meanwhile, an aggressive butcher tries to win the Pie in the Sky account.

• "The Policeman's Daughter"
This time, Fisher's assignment for Crabbe is personal: find the ACC's missing daughter, "a weekend hippie." Naturally, she and her friends turn up as squatters at farmer Henderson's sheep field.

Disc Two
• "The One That Got Away"
Even Crabbe's friend, the operator of a trout farm, isn't sure whether he killed his fiancee. Fortunately, Margaret is convinced of the man's innocence, pushing Crabbe into action.

• "Dead Right"
A medium's act might be a little too well-done, attracting a religious fanatic and a troubled young man who could be dangerous. At Henderson's suggestion, Margaret and the kitchen team switch the music tapes from classical to techno in the chicken coop.

• "Black Pudding"
With the help of Crabbe and a poet friend, a cookbook writer hopes to keep her last manuscript, reputed to be a saucy memoir, out of the hands of her nephew.

Disc Three
• "Swan in His Pride"
"I'm sitting here listening to a tape of a dead woman trying to seduce a psychopath," Crabbe says as he sifts through a case. The lady cop's colleagues say the serial killer suspect she was sleeping with was responsible for her death, but Crabbe's not so sure.

• "The Mild Bunch"
Crabbe doesn't just want to arrest two elderly women who've been passing bad checks; he wants the secret of their bread-and-butter pudding as well. He's also concerned about a wheelchair-bound cop, shot in the line of duty, as the perp's release from prison nears.

• "The Mystery of Pikey"
A well-heeled customer wants Crabbe's personal attention as a cop as well as a chef. Trouble is, he doesn't like what Crabbe finds out about the burglary of his house.

• "Lemon Twist"
While Crabbe's joining Cambridge and Fisher at a "management development seminar," Margaret's dealing with a sudden influx of customers, thanks to a favorable review of Pie in the Sky by a restaurant critic.

The Evidence

Pie in the Sky is a typical lightweight, character-oriented detective show, and Richard Griffiths as Henry Crabbe makes quite a character as the chef and detective. Who else would pack a "Dodgy Hotel Survival Kit," with culinary first-aid items such as olive oil and parmesan cheese, when going away on assignment, and would have his best conversations with his chickens? Griffiths balances the silly and serious well enough to handle both the seedy tone of corruption in "Swan in His Pride" and the lightweight, throwaway case in "The Mild Bunch." There, his interest in the culprits' pudding recipe added some laughs to an otherwise yawn-inducing check fraud caper.

Three episodes, "The Policeman's Daughter," "Dead Right," and "Black Pudding," are more character study than mystery, and the character relationships, sorted out with the help of the tough but softhearted Crabbe and his caring wife Margaret, carry the episodes well enough that you won't miss the usual crime solving. The detective struggling to overcome a disability in "The Mild Bunch" also has strong character moments, although the trivial case is a distraction.

Things seem to be pretty much the same as in Series 1, except that there's a different pretty waitress, farmer Henderson has a job in the kitchen—apparently so he can provide comic relief without much location shooting on the farm—and Maggie Steed has a little more to do, showing the human side of the business-minded Margaret and giving Pie in the Sky a warmer feel.

Pie in the Sky mixes set-bound restaurant scenes with shots of a mid-sized English city and its rural vicinity. The scenery isn't that big a part of the show, but it comes across well for the most part, as does the jazzy score. I did notice a freeze at one point.

A text bio of Richard Griffiths is the only extra.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Pie in the Sky is a good show, and I enjoy dropping in on Richard Griffiths' Henry Crabbe at his Pie in the Sky restaurant. However, you've undoubtedly seen everything on the menu before.

There's also a note on the DVD package, in small print, about music substitution, although the switch wasn't obvious.

Closing Statement

Richard Griffiths dives into Pie in the Sky with the zest Henry Crabbe puts into making a steak-and-kidney pie. If you're looking for comfort food television, you could find it tasty.

The Verdict

Not guilty, and you'll find some tips on making cucumber relish and bread-and-butter pudding in there, too.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 89
Audio: 90
Extras: 50
Acting: 95
Story: 85
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Acorn Media
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 492 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Crime
• Foreign
• Mystery
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Filmographies
• Biography


• IMDb

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