PBS' 'Hetty Wainthropp,' sleuth-housewife, debuts At a glance

October 09, 1997|By David Zurawik

She's not ready to play in Miss Marple's league, but I'll take her over Jessica Fletcher any day.

I'm talking about the amateur sleuth Hetty Wainthropp (Patricia Routledge), who makes her debut tonight in "Hetty Wainthropp Investigates" (9 p.m.-10: 30 p.m., MPT, Channels 22 and 67) on PBS' venerable "Mystery" series.

Wainthropp is a sixtysomething English housewife who decides she's had it with retirement and winds up with her very own detective agency. Not much of an agency actually -- a bicycle, a phone, a teen-age assistant (Dominick Monaghan) and a stack of business cards whose cost her husband rags her about. But it gets her out of the house and off chasing criminals.

Novelist David Cook, who created the Wainthropp character, is doing his first television series, and it shows. There's a problem with pacing. But Routledge, who stars in "Keeping Up Appearances" on PBS, is a delight. The series will air on Thursdays though Oct. 30.

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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