Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hetty Wainthropp Investigates

Robert, Hetty, and Geoffrey.
Premise:  A retired, 60-year-old housewife, Henrietta "Hetty" Wainthropp (Patricia Routledge) acquires a license as a private investigator after looking into the death of an elderly pensioner. Since her low-key husband lacks her desire for crime-solving, she takes on a young shoplifter, Geoffrey Shawcross (Dominic Monaghan), as her sleuthing partner. Hetty's job isn't just to pass time; the extra money helps she and husband Robert (Dirk Benefield) pay the bills.

Running Time:  45 minutes (26 episodes); 74-minute pilot film.

Status:  There were four seasons broadcast between 1996-1998. They’re available on DVD in the U.S.

Production Notes:  Patricia Routledge was already a star in Great Britain for portraying Hyacinth Bucket (that pronouced "Bouquet") in the popular sitcom Keeping Up Appearances (1990-95). Dominic Monaghan would later gain fame for playing the Hobbit Meridoc "Merry" Brandybuck in The Lords of the Rings trilogy and as one of the survivors on TV's Lost (2004-10). The Hetty Wainthropp Investigates series was loosely adapted from the 1986 novel Missing Persons by David Cook. Prior to the series, Cook's book was made into the 1990 movie Missing Persons, which first featured Routledge as Hetty. However, the film's other cast members were different from the later 1996-98 series and Hetty was a more flamboyant character than in the series.

Our Review:  The 1996 pilot film is a lot of fun. Routledge and Monaghan have a nice rapport and Benefield provides just the right amount of humor as Hetty's initially befuddled husband. However, by the third episode of the regular series, the formula has already worn thin. The introduction of some new characters injects a little life, but there's nothing compelling about the plots nor the Lancashire locations. If you're as fan of the "cozy mystery" subgenre, you might enjoy Hetty Wainthropp Investigates. Otherwise, we advise you to spend your viewing time on better British detective series.

Our Grade:  C.

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