This three-disc set collects all eight episode from the last season of the BBC series Pie in the Sky. The show, which ran from 1994 to 1997, featured Richard Griffiths as Detective Inspector Harry Crabbe, a police detective whose real passion is in the kitchen, not the crime scene. Through machinations explained in season one, Crabbe is forced to remain on the force on the eve of his retirement. He splits his time between managing his restaurant, the titular Pie in the Sky, and solving mysteries to make his boss, Freddy Fisher, look good.
As the season begins, Crabbe finds himself on Fisher’s newly formed Public Duties squad, a for-hire arm of the police force. This leads to a series of weak and unsatisfying cases that gets the season off to a slow start. The first episode sees Crabbe playing security guard for a housing development. In the second he’s watching a sequestered jury, and in the third episode he’s watching protesters. Hardly riveting stuff.
Things pick up with disc two. In “Cutting the Mustard,” Crabbe must investigate wrongdoings at Fisher’s old boarding school. The episode shows the usually slimy Fisher as an actual human. Malcolm Sinclair does a wonderful job as Fisher, the uptight conforming careerist whose pursed lips sometimes show the hint of a smile.
In “Return Match,” Crabbe is forced to babysit an alcoholic ex-soccer star who is Fisher’s ringer for a match between the police and a corrupt local security firm. This was one of the stronger episodes of the season, with Crabbe helping the soccer star face his demons, and his assistant chef Gary (played by Nicholas Lamont) talking about his own struggles with the bottle and prison. This also marks the point where the season takes on a darker tone from its usual lightweight and light-hearted approach to crime.
“The Apprentice” sees Crabbe taking in a troubled teenager who has fallen in with a violent street gang. “In The Smoke” has Crabbe testing the limits of loyalty as he investigates the disappearance of a friend while vacationing in London. The season and show ends with “Smelling of Roses,” in which Crabbe investigates a local businessman who Fisher seems to have a vendetta against. Fans of the series will no doubt be somewhat disappointed by the abrupt conclusion to the series, which makes it seem as if the writers found out while they were filming that it was to be the last episode.