Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Touch of Frost

Premise: Detective Inspector William "Jack" Frost (David Jason) is a cynical, gruff veteran in the Denton Police Department. In the pilot, we learn that he was on the verge of leaving his wife when she became terminally ill (she dies in the same episode). The middle-aged Frost hates paperwork, pays snitches for potential leads, and doesn't hesitate to bend rules (e.g., he interviews a three-year-old-- without anyone else present--as they play with toy cars). He also has the disgusting habit of taking sips from other people's beverages. Still, he's a sharp, persistent detective who is well respected by his peers and subordinates. Frost's admirers do not include the overly ambitious Superintendent Harry Mullet. The feeling is mutual, of course, with Frost displaying open contempt toward "Horn-rimmed Harry," even to the point of mounting a plastic fish--a mullet--on his office wall.

Running Time:  90-100 minutes (42 episodes).

Status:  15 seasons broadcast between 1992 and 2010.

Production NotesA Touch of Frost was based on a series of Frost novels written by R.D. Wingfield, starting with Frost at Christmas (1984). Prior to A Touch of Frost, David Jason was best-known for the popular 1981-91 British sitcom Only Fools and Horses, in which he played market trader (and notorious liar) Derek "Del Boy" Trotter. Jason has won numerous awards for his performances in that show and A Touch of Frost. He was knighted in 2005.

Our Review: David Jason makes DI Frost a colorful, three-dimensional character and there's a grittiness to episodes like "A Minority of One" (1994), which examines racial tensions in a Denton slum. However, we found the plots to be slowly-paced and unimaginative. Frankly, it was a bit of a slog to finish some episodes. We only viewed the first few seasons, so maybe A Touch of Frost evolved into a better-written show. It certainly has its fans and ended only because David Jason, then in his late sixties, decided it was time "for Frost to hang up his coat and scarf."

Grade:  B-.

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