Rosemary & Thyme calls
for a dash more than the usual suspension of disbelief. We have the
usual issue of amateur sleuths, which is that bodies turn up
underfoot wherever they go (yet they still get invited to
parties...). In addition, in this case, our protagonists are a pair
of gardeners called Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme. Silly? A tad. But
it's consistent with the tone of the series, which offers viewers a
generally light-hearted approach to the murder mystery.
A point in favor of the slightly
absurd premise of flowery-named-gardeners-turned-sleuths is that our
two amateur detectives are gardeners as their second career, bringing
savvy from previous careers as a university professor and a police
officer to their detecting work. Another nice thing about our
protagonists is that they give us middle-aged women in a thoroughly
positive light: they're active and interesting figures who stand up
well in a genre that is mainly populated by male detectives (except,
of course, for the archetypal spinster detective).
It's actually rather curious how the
murder mystery has become such a staple of popular fiction and film
that it can cross over from drama to comedy. In the case of Rosemary
& Thyme, the murder plots themselves are handled seriously
for the most part, with a touch of the melodramatic. The main stories
follow the standard operating procedure of mystery episodes: a dead
body turns up, and as the police and our fearless gardeners dig
deeper into the goings-on, more dark doings come to light, with
various people as potential suspects. (Needless to say, the obvious
suspect is the obviously not-guilty one.) The plots are a bit of a
stretch, but well within the norms of mystery television.
The stories are lightened up by the
characters of Rosemary and Laura, who take a wry and humorous look at
everything they run across. Their banter livens up the episodes, and
their foibles are used for the occasional comic interlude, as when
they debate whether to buy new clothes for a special visit from the
Queen. The overall effect is to give Rosemary & Thyme a
gentle and agreeable flavor: perhaps not so strong as to be
memorable, but going down easy.
In Series Three, viewers get a touch
of glamor. In addition to the episodes set in England, we also get
episodes that have our intrepid gardeners traveling to Spain for a
pair of adventures. "Agua Cadaver" mixes murder with
Moorish gardening and a rekindled romance for Rosemary; we get a
return to sun-drenched Spain in "Raquet Espanol," which
gives us death among professional tennis players. The episodes back
in the home country are set in a variety of locations as well,
including a not-so-peaceful monastery in "In a Monastery
Garden," English vineyards in "The Cup of Silence,"
and Regents Garden in "Three Legs Good." We get a total of
eight 45-minute episodes in the set.
Rosemary & Thyme: Series
Three is a three-DVD set, with the discs in ultra-slim plastic
keepcases inside a glossy paperboard slipcase.
The episodes in Series Three are
presented in anamorphic widescreen, making for a boost in image
quality for an otherwise fairly ordinary transfer. Colors are bright
and attractive, and contrast is handled reasonably well. Closeups
look clean, but middle- and longer-distance shots look a bit blurry.
There's a substantial amount of noise and shimmer in many scenes, as
The stereo soundtrack is adequate,
providing clear dialogue and a generally satisfactory audio quality.
The modest special features section
includes a photo gallery, notes on the locations, and cast
If you liked the earlier seasons of
Rosemary & Thyme, it's a safe bet that you'll enjoy Series
Three. The characters continue to be appealing, and though the
episodes seem a bit formulaic, they offer up enough charm to make
them a pleasant viewing experience. I"ll suggest the set as a
rental if you haven't seen the series before, and as a recommendation
for continuing fans.