Appellate Judge James A. Stewart recommends takeaway for Pie in the Sky diners. It's safer.
Our reviews of Pie In The Sky: Series 1 (published May 21st, 2009), Pie In The Sky: Series 2 (published January 27th, 2010), Pie In The Sky: Series 3 (published August 15th, 2010), and Pie In The Sky: Series 5 (published July 14th, 2011) are also available.
"I keep meaning to bring the missus 'round to that caff of yours, Henry, but people will keep dying."
Danger in dining establishments expands beyond the confines of Pie in the Sky, cop/chef Henry Crabbe's temple of steak-and-kidney in Middleton, England, in Pie in the Sky: Series 4. Crabbe finds trouble at pubs, posh luncheons, and a Chinese restaurant.
Facts of the Case
Pie in the Sky: Series 4 features six episodes on two discs:
• "Devils on Horseback: Part 2": Henry's theory on the murders is dead, as is his suspect. Henry comes up with a new suspect; so does Margaret.
• "Chinese Whispers": There's a fire at a Chinese restaurant (surprisingly, not at Pie in the Sky). It gets Henry involved with his Chinese restaurateur friend's gambling problem. Meanwhile, the Great British Grub Competition sounds great to Margaret, but kind of grubby to Henry.
• "Breaking Bread": There's trouble at a big bakery (surprisingly, not at Pie in the Sky), where mimeographed death's heads, followed by a shower of shattering glass, greet the guests at an event to celebrate the bakery's new police canteen deal. Susannah Doyle (Ballykissangel) guests.
• "Gary's Cake": Trouble finally hits Pie in the Sky, as armed robbers invade a crowded dining room and make off with jewelry and watches. As Fisher worries about bad publicity, the investigating officer tries to pin the crime on ex-con chef Gary.
While viewers back in olden days (like 1996) might have been annoyed by two-parters, watching on a DVD makes it feel like a TV movie—and gives Pie in the Sky more than usual room to breathe. The series has a lot of underused characters—from DI Cambridge to chef Gary—and all get some good moments in "Devils on Horseback." Of course, Maggie Steed as Margaret, who always makes a strong partner for Richard Griffiths, gets the best moment, since she actually solves the murder.
With a great opener, Series 4 gets off to a good start and keeps going strong, ending with "Gary's Cake." The last episode puts dramatic focus on Gary's struggles with alcoholism. It also shows the impact one good cop—Henry Crabbe, to be more specific—has by taking viewers through the investigation twice. First, the inept DI Stringer does his investigation, repeatedly coming up with wrong answers, bullying suspects, and generally pissing people off. Then, Henry, facing a ruined business, decides to take matters into his own hands, patiently asking questions and pondering what people tell him to solve the puzzle.
Overall, the season is good at bringing out Henry's personality, showing that he can stop to admire the wild herbs while on a case and still be the one to puzzle things out (usually). This can be predictable; when he's admiring an attractive woman, you don't even have to wait for the punchline to know it's for her baking skills. It also can offer surprising chances at character development: In "New Leaf," Henry bonds with a witness in a discussion over favorite foods; a scene in "Devils on Horseback" shows that Henry is perturbed by letting him (almost) drive off with a bottle of salad dressing on his car roof. The season also balances the goings-on at Pie in the Sky with Henry's criminal investigations without giving either short shrift.
The picture quality is decent, with occasional flaws. There are no extras in this batch.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It must have looked like you couldn't get a bite to eat anywhere without mayhem ensuing to viewers of Pie in the Sky. The show's gimmick does allow the characters to shine, but it is a gimmick, and some viewers might not find it to taste.
By Series 4, Pie in the Sky has its familiar recipe down pat. If you've gobbled up previous seasons, this one offers some tasty morsels, opening and ending the season with episodes that would be among the series' best.
Not guilty. Savor it.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
Review content copyright © 2011 James A. Stewart; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.