'Father Dowling Mysteries: The First Season'
(Tom Bosley, James Stephens, Tracy Nelson, Mary Wickes, et al / DVD / NR / 2012 / Paramount)
Overview: An amiable, inquisitive Chicago priest moonlights as a detective and is assisted by a rather worldly, lock-picking nun!
DVD Verdict: The mystery solving parish priest Father Brown was the creation of converted Catholic, G.K. Chesterton. It got an American makeover in the most American of cities, Chicago for these wonderful 'Father Dowling Mysteries.' My goodness, the man certainly got himself involved in more situations that were not necessarily related to his calling!
I guess, given that in each episode he's digging for clues after stumbling across murderse each week would make that statement redundant! But, amazingly, and for my money, each episode was captivatingly interesting. Tom Bosley as Father Dowling was great too - not only for the Catholic Archdiocese and the Police Department, but also us, the avid viewer.
In truth, unlike Chesterton's detective Dowling did not dwell too much on Catholic dogma. Tracy Nelson, as Sister Stephanie was a young nun who shared Dowling's taste for mystery and adventure and her being a nun and all that that entailed put her in some interesting situations as Dowling's left hand man, so to speak.
Father Dowling's way of observing the facts is family fun all the way down the line. Each episode made me laugh, mainly because Bosley is just so good in his role. Never taking it too seriously, he and Sister Stephanie are the perfect religious double act!
Sadly though, and sooner rather than later, the show did run out of creative ideas, and even had an infamous jump the shark moment ... when Father Dowling confessed to fathering a child before taking his vows of celibacy! Now, of all the crimes committed, of all the crimes solved in this series, I never saw that one coming! After its first season the show left NBC and ABC took the show for a further two seasons. In total 'Father Dowling Mysteries' had one TV movie (the first episode here, Fatal Confession - otherwise known as the pilot), and 43 episodes in three seasons. These are both Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs that comes with Episodic Promos for each episode.