Frank Hathaway & Lu Shakespeare (Shakespeare & Hathatway)

Created by Paul Matthew Thompson & Jude Tindall

In the cuter-than-thou sweepstakes, the easy-going 2018 BBC comedy/drama Shakespeare and Hathaway: Private Investigators is surely a contender.

It’s not enough that former Detective Inspector turned private eye FRANK HATHAWAY shares the family name of the Bard’s wife and works in Stratford-upon-Avon. That alone would race at least a few skeptical eyebrows. But then he goes and partners up with ex-hairdresser LUELLA “LU” SHAKESPEARE.

And then, in case anybody misses all this wink-wink, Frank’s only other employee, Sebastian Brudenell, is a struggling young actor who trained with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and frequently calls upon his skills to go undercover, and Frank’s former partner on the police force is Detective Inspector Christina Marlowe.

How they missed having a cute puppy hanging around the office called “Francis Bacon” is beyond me.

Still, the show has it’s moments, particularly for fans of the BritCrime Industrial Complex. Frank is prickly, cynical and slightly over-the-hill, in a rumpled “really needs someone to look after him” way, while Lu is younger (but not too much younger) and vivacious. There are a lot of fawning shots of Stratford-upon-Avon, and plenty of local oddball suspects to sort through in every case, à la Midsomer Murders and the like, but if you’re looking for hard-boiled grit, UK style, this ain’t it.

The cases are more of the Golden Age variety, with a discreet murder, a closed set of suspects, a little bit of detecting and even an occasional gathering of suspects. The chemistry between slovenly, cynical Frank and perky, practical Lu works, but what makes this work, for me, is Sebastian, whose flamboyance and catty, smart ass remarks (think Rufus Wainwright after a few martinis) raises it all a much-needed notch.

TELEVISION

  • SHAKESPEARE AND HATHAWAY: PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS
    (2018-19, BBC One)
    10 44-minute episodes
    Premiere: February 26, 2018
    Created by Paul Matthew Thompson & Jude Tindall
    Directed by Allen Baron and Robert Day
    Produced by Ella Kelly
    Executive producer: Will Trotter
    Starring Mark Benton as FRANK HATHAWAY
    Jo Joyner as LUELLA SHAKESPEARE
    and Patrick Walshe McBride as Sebastian Brudenell
    Also starring Amber Aga as Detective Inspector Christina Marlowe
    Tomos Eames as Detective Sergeant Keeler
    and Roberta Taylor as Gloria Fonteyn
    Guest stars:

    • SEASON ONE Buy the DVD Buy the Blu-Ray Watch it now!
    • “O Brave New World” (February 26, 2018)
    • “The Chimes at Midnight” (February 27, 2018)
    • “This Promised End” (February 28, 2018)
    • “This Rough Magic” (March 1, 2018)
    • “Toil and Trouble” (March 2, 2018)
    • “Exit, Pursued By a Bear” (March 5, 2018)
    • “The Fairest Show Means Most Deceit” (March 6, 2018)
    • “The Chameleon’s Dish” (March 7, 2018)
    • “The Rascal Cook” (March 8, 2018)
    • “Ill Met By Moonlight” (March 9, 2018)
    • SEASON TWO Buy the DVD Buy the Blu-Ray Watch it now!
    • “Outrageous Fortune” (February 25, 2019)
    • “The Play’s the Thing” (February 26, 2019)
    • “This Cursed Hand” (February 27, 2019)
    • “Beware the Ides of March” (February 28, 2019)
    • “No More Cakes and Ale” (March 1, 2019)
    • “The Offered Fallacy” (March 4, 2019)
    • “Nothing Will Come of Nothing” (March 5, 2019)
    • “In My Memory Lock’d” (March 6, 2019)
    • “The Envious Court” (March 7 2019)
    • “Too Cold for Hell” (March 8, 2019)
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, with a tip of the fedora to Film/Television editor Chris Baldemor.

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