Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hamish Macbeth

Carlyle with Zippy as Wee Jock.
Premise:  Hamish Macbeth (Robert Carlyle) is the police constable in the rural Scottish town of Lockdubh. He and his wee dog Jock, a Westie, have their hands (and paws) full with maintaining the law among Lockdubh's quirky residents. Of course, sometimes Hamish bends the law himself, such as when he helps Major Maclean improve a poorly-staged fake theft. The young constable's cases range from illegal lobster sales to escaped convicts to murder. On a couple of occasions, Detective Inspector Bruce from Glasgow comes down to lend a hand (though he's not very helpful). Hamish's closest friend, TV John McIver, has the gift of second sight at times. Hamish is in love with novelist Alexandra "Alex" Maclean, but he also harbors feelings for Isobel Sutherland, a reporter for The Lochdubh Listener (and she is obviously smitten with Hamish).

Running Time:  50 minutes.

Status:  Hasmish Macbeth ran for three season from 1995-97, comprising a total of 20 episodes. It can streamed on Acorn TV.

Production Notes: Hamish Macbeth was based on a series of novels written by M.C. Beaton (a pseudonym for Marion Chesney). Beaton introduced the character in Death of a Gossip in 1985 and has written 34 Hamish Macbeth novels as of 2017. Beaton has also written several other book series, including the Agatha Raison mysteries. Robert Carlyle was on the cusp of stardom when he first played Hamish in 1995. He subsequently gained fame in Trainspotting (1996) and The World Is Not Enough (1999). Today, he may best be known as Rumpelstiltskin in the long-running American TV series Once Upon a Time. Two episodes from the first season of Hamish Macbeth were written by Danny Boyle, who later directed Trainspotting (starring Carlyle) and won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire.

Our Review:  Hamish Macbeth is not a traditional detective show, with some episodes focusing solely on Hamish's attempts to resolve conflicts among the town's residents. While the general tone is laidback, there are serious episodes such as "A Bit of an Epic," in which a team-building mountain climb turns deadly. Robert Carlyle is excellent in the lead role and grounds the show when it borders on becoming too eccentric. Shirley Henderson is delightful as Isobel and her character's longing for Hamish provide the series' emotional core. Danny Boyle wrote one of the best episodes, "Wee Jock's Lament," in which the death of Hamish's dog closes and opens doors in the lives of several people. Incidentally, the season 1 episode "West Coast Story," which features a local production of West Side Story, was omitted from some of the DVD sets because of copyright issues. It can be viewed on Acorn TV.

Grade: B+.

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