I really like the Hamish Macbeth books by M.C. Beaton, so I thought it might be nice to watch the TV series which is based on the books.
There are three seasons and so far I am in the middle of season two and can compare books and TV series. Nothing could be further apart. As far as I can see, only the name of Hamish and the village Lochdubh, a few aspects of the plots and a very loose resemblance of some of the other characters remind us of the books.
Most of the names have been changed, there are many characters who never turn up in the books and the personality of Hamish is quite different. However, the series is quite good and cozy in its own right, just do not expect to find the books in it. And, oh, the Scottish accent is to die for.
Hamish’s looks are not at all like in the book. No tall, lanky and red-haired Hamish here. But this is not the only difference. Yes, he is rather indulgent when it comes to not abiding by the law, but on the other hand he shows some traits that are definitely not nice, not to say disturbing.
Like in the books he is jealous, but here his jealousy manifests itself in deliberately damaging other potential suitors’ cars and generally harassing the guys in a petty way.
Then there is one episode where his dog (Wee Jock, not Towser) gets killed in a car accident. A dog, by the way, that is so used to being fed by John McIver that he won’t even take food from Hamish. What does Hamish do? He goes out, follows the two convicts who ran Wee Jock over, befriends them, lies to them and lures them to a certain spot to kill them. Only the arrival of his Lochdubh friends stop him. Now, don’t tell me that he would not have been able to shoot them! It doesn’t change a thing.
Apart from the fact that at the time of their rescue the two men were only holding on to a rope and could have easily allen into an abyss, resulting in their death with Hamish not even shooting them, the idea that he planned to go after them with a gun in his pocket, becoming their friend and leader through the rough Scottish landscape, pretending to wanting to help them only to take them to a safe spot to kill them shows a rather nasty and evil disposition. The fact that that man is a police officer makes it only worse. And to top this all, the two men only killed his DOG by accident! I find this side of his personality rather disturbing and from that episode on I am not sympathizing with him anymore.
Priscilla is now called Alex and is not the beauty she is supposed to be. Also she is extremely jealous and behaves rather idiotic. Hamish and Alex are engaged by now (different situation but also rather awkward), but already one can see that this is not a match made in heaven.
Isobel is a new character that loves Hamish and that Hamish fancies in spite of his engagement with Alex. Tension everywhere.
There are many new characters that do not appear in the book.
- TV John McIver is Hamish’s “housekeeper”, part Hamish’s counsellor, part helper, part stand in for the seer Angus MacDonald with his premonitions.
- Rory, the shopkeeper, stand in for the Indian Patel. Obviously an Indian wouldn’t fit into the Scottish setting. Rory has an affair with
- Esme, the teacher. They are quite an interesting couple, those two.
- Barney and his wife Agnes are the pub/hotel owners.
- My favourite characters: Father and son McCrae. Lachlan and Lachie jr., the local entrepreneurs. Those two are so funny and make sure the necessary comic relief is there.
- Doc Brown, a young doctor instead of the old fellow, who is Hamish’s pot smoking buddie (yeah, really!)
I would recommend the series to everyone who likes cozy mysteries (not necessarily with murder) in an interesting setting. You don’t have to know the books, on the contrary, knowing the “real” characters you might even be disappointed a bit. But it is entertaining nevertheless. Do not forget to put on the subtitles on your DVD player, though!