The Good and the Not-So-Good of Case Histories

My sister and I just finished watching the first season of Case Histories, a BBC show based on the novels by Kate Atkinson. Set in Edinburgh, it follows Jackson Brodie, a brooding private investigator with a tragic past, as he solves three mysteries over the course of six episodes.

There are some things we really liked (the "good", and some parts that we felt could have been tweaked (the "not-so-good"). Here are three of each:

The Good

Jason Isaacs as Jackson Brodie

If you didn’t know, Jason Isaacs was Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, and he did such a fantastic job, it was almost hard to remember that you weren’t supposed to like the Malfoys. 

Like Benedict Cumberbatch, he has a delightfully deep voice, so for that alone it’s worth watching anything he’s in. He has the right sort of charm where he can be all gruff and unhelpful, but you’re still rooting for him because you know that deep down he has a good heart. And his relationship with his daughter, Marlee (played by the adorable Millie Innes) is just precious. 

Plus, he’s easy on the eyes, am I right?

Amanda Abbington as Louise Monroe

AKA Mary Morstan-Watson from BBC’s Sherlock. She’s the sassy female detective who Jackson may or may not have a thing for, and their chemistry is wonderful. Jackson is constantly asking her to help him out, and she grudgingly* obliges, even if it means interrupting her date with a surgeon. I want to watch the second season mostly to see if they end up together. 

*we all know you secretly love when he comes to you, Louise. DON’T DENY YOUR FEELINGS.

The location

Hello, Edinburgh! Scottish people are everywhere – and I’ve already mentioned how much I like Scottish accents – plus, of course, the scenery is gorgeous. I'm pretty sure I found the place where they filmed exterior shots of his office, and it's just as lovely in real life as it is on screen. 

The Not-So-Good

Flashbacks x a million

Jackson has a tragic backstory which involves his older sister drowning and his older brother’s attempted suicide. Naturally, this affected him very much, and it’s interesting to learn more about what makes him tick, but over the course of the six episodes, you don’t get very many answers. You see the same sequence of flashbacks over and over and, while they sometimes extend to show you the “after”, you – like Jackson – don’t get any answers. Why did she drown? Was she murdered first? Why did his brother feel so guilty? Where were their parents? And, if these painful memories are triggered by Jackson’s daily run (which seems to be the case), why doesn’t he find a new way to exercise?!?

How old is Jackson?

I couldn’t figure out how old anyone was. Which wasn’t that big a deal until the last story arc which left me questioning just how old Jackson was because he was involved in a big case 20+ years ago (I mean, I guess he could have been super productive in his 20’s). Also, how old was his daughter? She seemed at least 8, but her parents constantly carried her around like she was much younger. My 9 year old niece doesn’t let me cart her around like a sack of potatoes – trust me, I’ve tried – so I’m not sure why Marlee would?

So many people

Each mystery is divided over two episodes: the first episode introduces you to the new characters and starts to set up the mystery, and the second episode is the climax and resolution. That means that you spend the first half wondering who these people are and how they’ll be connected, before you finally get some sort of closure in the second half. It can be hard to follow along and according to my sister, the books were confusing for that reason - too many people, with too long a gap before an explanation. 

Would I recommend it?

Yeah, definitely! It's very character-driven so you get to learn a lot about Jackson in addition to watching him solve mysteries. For Jason Isaacs alone, it's worth it.