Adventures in Netflix! Episode 9: Rosemary and Thyme (with guest EmotedLlama)

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Hello and welcome to Adventures in Netflix! Today EmotedLlama and I will be discussing Rosemary and Thyme, a 2003 British mystery show.

The show follows Laura Thyme (Pam Ferris), an amateur gardener who’s recently divorced, and Rosemary Boxer (Felicity Kendal), a University lecturer on horticulture who’s recently out of a job. Because of a shared connection to a sick, rich businessman, Daniel (David Mallinson), they both become entangled in a plot that ends the life of Laura’s friend and threatens the life of the businessman.

Alee-see-ah, I want you to give all my money to that nice university my old friend runs.

As both EmotedLlama and I have somewhat conflicting opinions of the show, we’ll each take turns discussing each element (music, acting, story, etc.). First off, the music:

EmotedLlama: I thought the music was mostly good. It derives itself directly from the song Scarborough Fair, and is occasionally a bit heavy for the subject material (a relatively light mystery). It’s got some nice strings, though, and overall suited the work strangely well.

NekoShogun: I liked the music too; the instrumental version of Scarborough Fair that they used for the opening was very pretty, and the rest of the music, most of which was just a riff of the main theme, was equally nice. I disagree that it was too heavy though: I would argue that it was actually spot on tonally and that some of the acting made it seem too light, but more on that later.

"Don't mind me, I'm just fixing this car with my wrench."

Next, the plot:

NekoShogun: I have mixed feelings about the plot; the actual elements of the mystery were decent, but the presentation of the clues felt a bit too heavy handed a lot of the time, and there were no red hearings to speak of, so it was always pretty clear what was important and what wasn’t. I felt like the core concept was pretty interesting, but that the execution was a bit amateurish.

EmotedLlama: While I agree it felt amateurish and that the clues were always obvious, I thought that it was a perfectly fine system when the audience didn’t have the entire cast of suspects ready at any particular moment; since I had no one to suspect, I had no one to pin the evidence on and thus no way to figure out the mystery. However, that has its own problem: while it wasn’t till the end, slightly before it was revealed to the characters, that I figured it out, I felt as if it was impossible to actually do so. It made contextual sense, since the protagonists aren’t detectives, but it made for a weak mystery. Other than the mystery itself, I did like the plot: it kept moving at a nice pace that felt safe in taking time to establish the mystery, and nothing seemed to drag on too long or get sped through–even if I was sometimes confused as to what everyone’s relations were to each other.

"Men. Suck."

NekoShogun: I did like that the story took its time setting up the mystery, but I didn’t think it made particularly effective use of said time. True, things never seemed rushed, but there was never a sense of urgency either (partly because I wasn’t invested in the characters). In the time the mystery was being set up I should have become invested in the characters, especially the protagonists, so that later on I might actually worry for their safety. But because I wasn’t invested, and because the story itself never manifested a sense of peril, I felt indifferent about the resolution of the mystery.

EmotedLlama: I don’t think a sense of urgency fit the story, and if I recall correctly it wouldn’t even have been necessary until the very end. Nor do I see a reason that the story itself would have a sense of peril, when there was no peril to be sensed.

NekoShogun: I just felt like things started to set up, or tried to set up, a bit of danger here and there, and then never followed through properly. I felt like I was being promised peril and then I never got any.

EmotedLlama: Fair enough.

This old lady with a knife is the most threatening part of the show.

Characters and acting, now:

EmotedLlama: Though they were understandably sketches, given the fact that it was just a single episode, I thought the characters were good enough. The minor characters were well-defined and memorable (in the sense that I could keep track of them easily), and the two protagonists felt very realistic (save for one being completely unperturbed that her friend died). Their somewhat-friendship was naturally developed, and by the end I thought they had grown closer in a completely real way.

Unfortunately, their acting wasn’t always great; that aforementioned death, where Laura had barely a hint of sadness that her friend had died, and Rosemary’s acting when she was supposed to be afraid, which came off as more humorous than anything.

NekoShogun: I agree completely. With the exception of the afore mentioned death I thought the characters were mostly well written, and the burgeoning friendship between the two protagonists felt very natural and realistic. I did think there was a bit of “I’m Asking All These Questions Because This is a Mystery Show” mentality behind some of the scenes, but I think it can be forgiven considering it actually is a mystery show.

The acting on the other hand wasn’t very good. A lot of the dialogue, especially anything that was supposed to be emotional or meaningful, was rendered almost comical by the flat, dull, uninteresting delivery of most of the actors. I thought Felicity Kendal was hilarious in The Good Neighbors, but she, and everyone else, was pretty boring here.

"Hello, I am Alicia, and this is my bra."

Final opinions:

EmotedLlama: I liked it. I thought it had a pleasant, low-key air to it, and though there were some fumbles in the acting and storytelling departments it didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment. It’s not necessarily a show I’d continue watching (I’d probably try one or two more episodes to see if it gets better, then make my judgement), but I felt as if I enjoyed the 50 minutes I spent with the show.

NekoShogun: Let me put it this way: if I happened upon this show while flipping channels, I might stop to watch it, but I’d never go out of my way to see it.

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