Each pair of eps adapts one Atkinson book, in chronological order — 2004's "Case Histories," 2006's "One Good Turn" and, because that deserves another, 2008's "When Will There Be Good News?" — so it's like watching three two-hour movies back to back. And it's bloody likely you'll want to.
Brodie excels at finding missing persons. In the first, it's a girl who disappeared three decades ago, and whose sisters presume is dead (shades of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"). In the third, it's a single mom with a worried nanny — and this one he pursues after getting hit by a train. And in the second, it's ... well, not so much finding as it is avoid being found; that may be why its plot of road-rage aftermath renders this one pretty good, as opposed to the others' pretty damned outstanding.
Weaved into these main stories are other whodunits and whatthehellhappeneds, involving a dead Russian hooker, a lawyer's daughter being slain on her first day at work, a junkie ragamuffin, the requisite cheating spouse and so on. There's also his dealings with his semi-toxic ex-wife (Kirsty Mitchell, TV's "New Tricks"), quality time with his adorable daughter (newcomer Millie Innes), squabbling with his secretary (Zawe Ashton, "Blitz"), and maybe a chance at love with one of his clients, a daffy actress (Natasha Little, "The Boys Are Back").
If it sounds like there's a lot going on, yeah, there is. But the creative team rises to the challenge by finding a quick but unhurried pace, and sticking to it. A sense of cohesion arises with Brodie's flashbacks to a childhood tragedy (perhaps too often, really), but each two-parter could stand on its own; I just can't fathom why you'd want to do that.
At its best, which is 70 percent of the whole, I'd put "Case Histories" up there at a "Sherlock" level of greatness. Isaacs nails his flawed hero so perfectly that when the six hours is up, it’s hard to say goodbye. —Rod Lott