Review: ‘Agatha Raisin’

(Photo: Ashley Jensen and Jamie Glover in “Agatha Raisin,’ courtesy Acorn TV)

Acorn TV touts its latest Agatha Raisin mystery as a Halloween episode, largely due to its title: Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House. But don’t expect to be spooked much.

The movie-length episode, dropping Monday, October 28, had us jumping in fright only once. That moment appears in the show’s trailer, so…spoiler alert…here it is:

As you can tell from the trailer, Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House provides more laughs than scares. Alas, those humorous bits prove the saving grace as the mystery itself gets more and more convoluted as the nearly 1 hour, 45 minute episode drags on and on.

For anyone new to Agatha Raisin, we’d strongly recommend any of the 12 previous episodes over this one. Scottish actress Ashley Jensen (Catastrophe, Ugly Betty) stars as the late-40ish Agatha who’s left her life as a high-powered London public relations executive to start a relaxing retirement in the Cotswold town of Carseley. Instead, she finds herself playing detective once the formerly peaceful locale begins experiencing murder after murder.

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House marks the start of the show’s third season, with Agatha now a full-fledged, licensed private eye with her own agency.

It should come as no surprise to any fan of cozy mysteries, no spoiler alert needed, that the title house isn’t really haunted — nor, we suppose, that the woman being haunted will be murdered.

It should also come as no surprise to viewers of previous Agatha Raisin episodes, myself included, that Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House is based on a novel by M.C. Beaton, that the locals engage in quirky activities (in this case, a costumed reenactment of a historical battle called Titney’s Knob), that Agatha finds herself in mortal danger during the show’s final minutes, and that there’s eventually a second murder to solve. But wait, this episode is so long that a third murder takes place!

(Jodie Tyack, photo by Alexandra Guelff, source IMDb)

On the other hand, perhaps because she’s now a real private investigator rather than an amateur sleuth, Agatha no longer wears heels when undertaking her toughest tasks, nobody sets a fire to put her in danger during those final minutes, and a refreshing new character joins the cast: Jodie Tyack as Toni Gilmour (perhaps a nod to the equally quirky folks in The Gilmore Girls?) who starts out as a totally inept housekeeper but proves to possess remarkable detective skills.

The rest of Agatha’s team? Since Scooby-Doo is actually referenced in the episode, we feel safe in saying that she and her sleuthing cohorts do seem at times to resemble Scooby and his gang.

Of course, all the murders get solved by show’s end. Just don’t ask me how. Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House is the longest episode yet in this series (or does it just feel like it?) and, as with the previous four super-sized episodes, it could have used some trimming down.

Three more episodes will arrive in 2020:  Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance, Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell, and Agatha Raisin and the Pig That Turned.

When they do, you’ll find them, along with Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House and all previous episodes, at acorn.tv/agatharaisin.

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About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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