Based on the novels by Kate Atkinson, Case Histories: Series 2 takes audiences back to the world of Jackson Brodie once more.
When you look before you leap, you may just land somewhere worse. That could very well be the summation of the three episodes of Case Histories: Series 2 which see Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) once again return as Jackson Brodie, the former policeman turned private investigator. Between the end of series 1 and series 2 Brodie has left Edinburgh and accepted a risky job, which goes poorly. Returning home we learn he is avoiding his daughter, Marlee (Millie Innes, Dani’s House), and has been out of touch with everyone for weeks. But that doesn’t stop him from jumping right back into the swing of things, once again accepting cases he has little hope of receiving payment for, outside of possibly making a difference.
A quick recommendation: If you enjoyed Series 1, get Series 2.
Isaacs’ performance is once again the lynchpin of the show and keeps the audience invested. He plays Brodie as a man it’s increasingly harder to root for. We ask ourselves why he continues to push everyone who has a chance of caring for him away, why he must sabotage every relationship which matters. However, we do understand why, even if we struggle to accept it. Brodie is a man who does what needs to be done and sometimes that’s very messy and can hurt people more than it helps. Throw in his unresolved childhood trauma and accompanying issues and it just complicates things even more.
This series of episodes explores even further his Achilles’ heel of children and mothers, with three somewhat interconnected episodes. Each finds Brodie struggling to do what’s right when faced with the limitations of the law. I really enjoy Case Histories and Isaacs’ portrayal of Jackson Brodie is what drew me back to the show.
However, I will readily confess I have reached a crossroads. While I do recommend the series overall, and Case Histories: Series 2 in particular, I’m not sure I’ll come back for Series 3. There’s only so much pain I can watch the character of Jackson Brodie go through without knowing there’s redemption at the end of the story. I understand why each and every episode contains at least one point of heartbreak and those moments rank among my favorites. But still, I may have reached my limit of how many of those moments I can stomach.
Case Histories is a true character drama in every way. The show only works if Jason Isaacs is absolutely convincing as Jackson Brodie. I’m pleased to say, even after a couple of years away from the character, Isaacs is in fine form and sells the series once again.
The technical specs are not the best this time out. The audio in particular is rough. I had to turn my system up to the halfway mark just to be able to hear some of the stream, and I found myself rewinding and putting the subtitles on at certain points where that wasn’t enough. There are very deliberate song choices and while I appreciate their placements I am frustrated by the hollow track. It’s Dolby 2.0 Stereo and I really wish it was remastered or upgraded. The video is better but there’s definite grain, highlighted during the night scenes. The 1.78:1 widescreen transfer serves it well but a bit more color timing would not go amiss. I understand the somewhat flat palette mimics the darker aspects of the story, but I would prefer a dynamic palette which changes with Brodie’s arc.
There are more special features than I expected. There’s a behind-the-scenes featurette and it’s paired with a series of interviews with cast and crew. For a genre which usually forgoes such things, this is a pleasant surprise.
I recommend Case Histories: Series 2 for those who enjoyed series 1 of the show and fans of Jason Isaacs. This is a character drama with a lead character it’s easy to understand, yet, at times, hard to find sympathetic.