Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Orson Welles, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O'Herlihy, Roddy McDowall, Alan Napier
Genre: Drama, History, War
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Runtime: 107 minutes

Hamish Macbeth may technically be a British mystery series, but the quirky BBC show, set in Scotland, is more Local Hero meets Northern Exposure than Miss Marple, as series 2 shows. The residents of tiny Lochdubh, Scotland, are an eccentric bunch, and actor Robert Carlyle, for better or worse, is the town's sole lawman/sheriff. Carlyle is in prime deadpan form in the role of Hamish Macbeth, who presides over the crimes and just plain weird happenings of the burgh. The series, based on characters created by M.C. Beaton, doesn't always even seem to feature a mystery, until the final moments of an episode, as in "A Perfectly Simple Explanation." The episode features slightly manic members of a fundamentalist sect, the Church of the Stony Path, and Hamish comes under their fire-and-brimstone curses for living out of wedlock with his insecure girlfriend, Alex. Then there's the new age cult leader who conducts his conversations on a particularly sloshy waterbed. The oddball characters come and go, and somewhere, woven around their interactions, is a plot that becomes strangely satisfying by an episode's finale, but which is not at all the reason for watching. The steadfast but affectionate take on the residents' quirkiness is compulsively addictive, and Carlyle proves again what a talented, multifaceted actor he is. As the blustery minister shrieks at Macbeth about the sin and wantonness of his town, Carlyle never lets Macbeth show he's ruffled. "If the Lord thinks so much of you," he says, when the reverend pauses to catch his breath, "then why is He lettin' me dog wee on your leg?" Visit Lochdubh and you'll likely never want to leave. --A.T. Hurley

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