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Case Number 20529

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Pie In The Sky: Series 4

Acorn Media // 1996 // 296 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // January 19th, 2011

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart recommends takeaway for Pie in the Sky diners. It's safer.

Editor's Note

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.

The Charge

"I keep meaning to bring the missus 'round to that caff of yours, Henry, but people will keep dying."

Opening Statement

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:

Disc One
• "Devils on Horseback: Part 1": There's a fight at a pub (surprisingly, not at Pie in the Sky). Henry (Richard Griffiths, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) and Margaret (Maggie Steed, Martin Chuzzlewit) are off to the races, where the chef's accountant wife is dealing with an important client. Henry sets off in pursuit of a suspicious character, and the body of one of the guys who was fighting in the opening scene turns up. Back at Pie in the Sky, there could be a fight brewing, since an old friend (Keeley Hawes, Ashes to Ashes) of waitress Nicola has taken an interest in chef Gary. Look for Jane Wymark (Midsomer Murders).

• "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.

Disc Two
• "New Leaf": ACC Freddy Fisher (Malcolm Sinclair, V for Vendetta) assigns Henry to protect a hidden witness. At least, Henry can practice his culinary skills on her, if she'll eat it—and if they both don't get killed.

• "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.

The Evidence

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.

Closing Statement

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.

The Verdict

Not guilty. Savor it.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 88
Audio: 90
Extras: 0
Acting: 95
Story: 93
Judgment: 93

Perp Profile

Studio: Acorn Media
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 296 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Crime
• Drama
• Foreign
• Mystery
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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