Jonathan Creek is a magician's apprentice1. No, wait, he's the person who devises all the tricks for magician Adam Klaus' performances. His genius and knack for solving puzzles catches the eye - albeit inadvertently - of crime writer Madeline "Maddy" Magellan, who is investigating the murder of an artist. After he successfully solves the case, Maddy ropes him in to more and more bizarre criminal acts, each as impossible as the next. Maddy is eventually replaced by Carla Borrego, a former theatrical agent; she is, in turn, replaced by Joey Ross for the latest episodes.
This isn't a crime drama. It's a brain-teaser/comedy show that is disguised as a crime drama. Moreover, it's a crime drama that isn't a "whodunit", but more of a "howdunit". While traditional crime dramas focus on "whodunit", and a handful (such as Cracker) focus on "whydunit", Jonathan Creek is one of the first (if not the first) shows to focus on "howdunit". How does a man lock himself inside a nuclear bunker and shoot himself, when he has crippling arthritis? How does a painting mysteriously disappear, then reappear, without leaving the room? How does someone grow a full head of hair three days after having it all cut off?
Jonathan Creek combines the intrigue of seemingly impossible crime scenarios (and their subsequent head-scratching, suspenseful clues) with occasional classic thriller elements, and plenty of comedic moments. Jonathan's wry, cynical, and occasionally sardonic comments at the right points in the show make for an entertainment gem, and the puzzles make for some very interesting lateral thinking. Bungled romantic interludes and tension with Maddy and Carla (respectively) are used at the right moments of the show to dissolve some of the "thriller" parts of the show, and make it more accessible to a larger audience.
Unfortunately, the audience only gets 45 minutes to solve the case... thankfully, with the miracle of DVD, one can simply pause the show and figure it out from there.
Currently, four seasons of Jonathan Creek have been produced, along with a handful of Christmas/New Year specials. There appear to be no plans to make a fifth season, as the fourth season was produced in 2004... but then again, stranger things have happened. (And been subsequently solved.)
1I say this because it is very easy to confuse Jonathan for an apprentice, or - more correctly - an assistant.