Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries

Premise:  Mrs. Adela Bradley (Diana Rigg) is a wealthy, middle-aged, emancipated widow that dabbles in crime solving in the 1920s. In the pilot episode "Speedy Death", she attends the funeral of an ex-husband, followed by an engagement party at a country estate for her wheelchair-bound goddaughter Eleanor. The party gets off to a rocky start when Eleanor's fiance is found dead, apparently drowned in a bathtub. Mrs. Bradley, a famous author and psychoanalyst, solves this and other cases with the assistance of her loyal chauffeur George (Neil Dudgeon).

Running Time:  60 minutes (four episodes); 90-minute pilot film.

Status:  One season in 2000. It's available on DVD in the U.S.

Production Notes: Author Gladys Mitchell, a contemporary of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, wrote 66 Mrs. Bradley novels between 1929 and 1984. Her fictional detective's first appearance in Speedy Death pre-dates Miss Marple's literary debut in The Murder at the Vicarage (1930). In the Mrs. Bradley books, Mitchell's sleuth is assisted by her secretary Laura Menzies (who sometimes refers to her employer as Mrs. Crocodile). At the time she starred in The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries, Diana Rigg was serving as the host of PBS's Mystery!--which showed Mrs. Bradley in the U.S. Neil Dudgeon, who co-starred as George the chauffeur, would later play John Nettles' cousin on Midsomer Murders and eventually take over as that show's star.

Our Review:  Given the talent involved, we expected more from The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries. Even the marvelous Dame Diana Rigg fails to make Adela Bradley a convincing amateur detective. We'll blame the writers (after all, we love Dame Diana!). It is a handsome production, with the costumes and sets convincingly creating a 1920s atmosphere. And, yes, we'd love to be chauffeured around in Mrs. Bradley's Rolls Royce limo by George. However, this was an unexceptional series and it's easy to see why a second season wasn't commissioned.

Grade:  C.

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