Sunday, 25 July 2010
Recommended: Puzzle (2008)
The reason for the year in brackets after the title is due to the unfortunate coincidence of there being another series called “Puzzle”, broadcast the previous year. I haven't seen Puzzle (2007), but the synopsis makes it sound a bit like Battle Royale, but with less blood and more jigsaws.
The 2008 series is about a corrupt English teacher and three of her students who investigate mysteries. These normally start out as a simple attempt to find treasure or win a reward (the teacher's motivation in these stories is always greed) before the body count starts to rise and there's a murder to be solved.
I'm a sucker for these kinds of shows and although, in the era of mobile phones, the idea of people completely cut off from help is kind of far-fetched, with a little suspension of disbelief these stories work fine.
Ishihara Satomi plays the teacher, and despite being ten years too young for the part, pulls it off admirably. Her comedy timing is perfect, and she'd carry the series by herself even if nothing else was worth watching. As it is, everything else is fine. The stories are (apart from a dip in stories 6 and 7) excellent and intriguing, and the supporting cast are great too. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that the puzzle in episode one is pretty obvious if you speak English. This may give the impression that the series is a straight comedy propped up by some weak mysteries, but the would be unfair. This is a smart, funny show that anyone who likes a bit of Trick/Jonathan Creek style sleuthing should try.