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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.