Appellate Judge James A. Stewart is getting his flame-retardant sports coat out to dine at Pie in the Sky.
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 4 (published January 19th, 2011) are also available.
Henry Crabbe: "These lunchtimes are getting ridiculous."
After five series of doing something right in TV detection, Pie in the Sky: Series Five brings the adventures of Henry Crabbe (Richard Griffiths, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), the kindly cop and chef who runs Pie in the Sky restaurant, to a close.
At Pie in the Sky, waitress Nicola is gone, replaced by Sally (Marsha Thomason, White Collar). On the Barstock police force, PC Cambridge has left, replaced by constables Morton (Mary Woodvine, Space Precinct) and Guthrie (Derren Litten, The Catherine Tate Show). A police policy of hiring out cops for security details puts Crabbe in even more conflict than usual with ACC Freddy Fisher (Malcolm Sinclair, Casino Royale), his careerist boss.
Facts of the Case
Pie in the Sky: Series 5 features eight episodes on three discs:
• "Ugly Customers"
• "Pork Pies"
• "Return Match"
• "The Apprentice"
• "Smelling of Roses"
Henry Crabbe's adventures come to an actual close in the final episode, written by series creator Andrew Payne. Even though it's one that lets viewers know that Henry Crabbe will still be making steak-and-kidney pies, it's a wrap-up anyone who's invested in the first four series will want to see.
The final batch of Pie in the Sky has four entrees, er, episodes, worthy of note:
"Cutting the Mustard" takes a look at public school bullying, and also at Freddy Fisher, Henry's boss. Henry learns that Fisher was bullied as a schoolboy and, surprisingly, befriended one of the cooks at the school, becoming a kitchen fixture. It also gives Fisher a moment to show his sympathetic side, sharing his experiences with the bullied boy to persuade him to speak with the police. Since Fisher is especially obnoxious in this final series, it's a good change-up.
"The Apprentice" gives the fussy Henry a chance to show his softer side as he counsels a young suspect. There's an especially strong conclusion, as the young apprentice tries his hand at Henry's style of moral persuasion to defuse a tense situation that's come home to Pie in the Sky.
"In the Smoke" starts out looking like it's going to be another comic episode, but takes on an unexpected dramatic turn.
Lastly, "Smelling of Roses" deals with Henry's depression over his increasingly frustrating job and the toll it's taking on his life—even impacting his greatest joy, Pie in the Sky.
Through it all, the conflicts with Fisher grow; the security jobs mean that Henry's sharp police instincts aren't generally wanted. This conflict provides a thread running through the last season—sometimes absurd, as in "Squashed Tomatoes" and "Pork Pies," but more often dramatic. It gives Richard Griffiths one last chance to show that his food-loving character isn't a one-note joke. The one disappointment is that you don't get to see the same level of character development in the supporting cast, particularly Gary (Nicholas Lamont), whose alcoholism has been dealt with in previous seasons.
The picture and sound are decent for a '90s British TV series.
Just an aside: I'm still wondering whether Jones' undercover ID as a baker in a recent White Collar was a Pie in the Sky reference, given Marsha Thomason's role here.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The entire fifth series feels like it's Henry Crabbe's last, with a bit more character growth for the detective than expected. Series creator Andrew Payne left a little wiggle room for a sixth series or a TV movie, but those things never turned up. If you wanted Crabbe, the Barstock police force, and Pie in the Sky to stay the same forever, you might want to skip it and rewatch earlier adventures. This set, naturally, is also a bad place for newcomers to start.
There are no extras. Chances are more people know where Richard Griffiths is now than knew where he was then, but it would still be nice to hear him and other cast members look back on Pie in the Sky in a commentary or other feature.
Somewhere in here, there's a musical change noted, probably with "In the Smoke," which takes the Crabbes to a jazz club.
Between Richard Griffiths' role in the Harry Potter films and the increased interest in foodie personalities such as Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain, Pie in the Sky has probably drawn a few new fans on DVD. While hardly unique (Marsha Thomason didn't land in that different a show with White Collar), it is a solid show that could grow on viewers.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
Review content copyright © 2011 James A. Stewart; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.