1. THE IMPOSSIBLE BODY
Series 1 Episode 2 "An Advancement of Learning"
The bones of a dead woman are discovered during a seemingly ordinary dig at a university car park. Sounds like a pretty standard starting point for a murder mystery, you might think. But here's the rub: the dead woman, once the head of the university, had actually perished while holidaying in Austria many years before, when her hotel coach skidded into a ravine and erupted in flames. Her body had apparently been obliterated in the catastrophe.
So what on earth are her bones doing buried beneath her university grounds, underneath the very memorial erected in her memory? It's quite the enigma, and the campus context gives Dalziel plenty of excuses to take pot shots at people who have degrees (including one Peter Pascoe). Suffice it to say, things get even odder before they get any clearer...
2. THE BUSMAN'S HOLIDAY
Series 1 Episode 3 - An Autumn Shroud
Having given a touching, if drunken speech at Pascoe's wedding ("I've always tried to give a him a leg-over... I mean, a leg-up"), Dalziel decides to take some well-deserved time off while his partner is on his honeymoon. As you might imagine, holidays aren't exactly Dalziel's forte, and the cranky workaholic is soon cursing and spluttering after his trip to the countryside is curtailed by a vicious flood.
When his car gets stranded in the middle of nowhere, a bedraggled Dalziel is rescued by... a funeral procession. Things get progressively more surreal when the deceased chap's widow - a rather elegant and beautiful lady - takes a liking to our favourite grumpychops copper, and lets him take refuge in her country home, where he's soon embroiled in a murky saga of family intrigue and wicked schemes amid the flood-soaked surroundings. It quite literally never rains but it pours.
3. A QUIET MASSACRE
Series 2 Episode 1 - Ruling Passion
How does Dalziel greets the country copper who calls him up to inform him that Peter Pascoe has chanced upon a crime scene far from his usual beat?
Sgt Pascoe? He's one of mine. What's he been doing, exposing himself on the street again? And he did promise the magistrate.
Actually, "chanced" isn't quite right: Pascoe and his wife have driven to the home of an old friend, only to find three people shot dead on the premises.
A shocking massacre, but that isn't going to stop Dalziel from making his usual quips ("I didn't know Pascoe had enough friends to spare three"). At the same exact time his partner is dealing with such a hideous triple murder, Dalziel has to content with his own case, featuring an antiques thief who has "micturated in a kitchen utensil". That's Pascoe-speak for urinating in a kettle. And so the hunt is on for the Wetherton Micturator...
4. ALAS, POOR PASCOE
Series 2 Episode 2 - A Killing Kindness
Colourful serial killers who give creepy clues to the media are a staple of glossy American crime shows, but in Wetherton? Really? Dalziel and Pascoe are suitably surprised when one such flamboyant murderer starts preying on local women, punctuating each crime with a Shakespearean phone call to the local paper. By which we mean, he recites lines from Hamlet to the baffled editor.
This means two things. First, Peter Pascoe can show off his command of Shakespeare (seriously, the man would put Sir Ian McKellen to shame). And second, Pascoe can seriously annoy Dalziel, even more than usual, by meeting with a local fortune teller who literally uses a crystal ball to channel the thoughts of one of the deceased women. Cue much embarrassment when the press get wind of it, and print a headline about baffled coppers consulting clairvoyants. "Look at me sunshine," Dalziel asks Pascoe, "do I look baffled?" No. Just very, very grumpy.
5. THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNS
Series 3 Episode 2 - Child's Play
Picture the scene: the funeral of an evil old crone. We're only going by the words of the distinctly un-upset mourners, including the family member who relishes never having to suffer through the dead lady's "watery tea" and "barmy ideas on blacks and the bloody Empire". Fair enough. But then a very strange figure enters the scene: a dapped older gent in a dashing white suit, who claims to be the deceased's long lost son.
How long lost? Well, he had gone missing in action back in 1944. Now, after all these decades, he has apparently returned with an eye on his inheritance, much to the fury of the other relatives. Dalziel and Pascoe are soon called to solve this peculiar puzzle - not because of the issue of possible fraud, but the issue of very definite murder...
6. DEJA DEATH
Series 11 Episode 3 - Demons on Our Shoulders
It's fair to say mind control experiments and secret devil worshipping sects don't tend to play a big part in homicide cases. But Dalziel and Pascoe have another bonkers mystery on their hands when a woman is shot dead in his own bedroom, apparently by her husband. It turns out he had already "killed" her in such a way before, during a Halloween magic show when hubby had been hypnotized by a stage magician to use a toy gun on his wife.
The dead woman's daughter is convinced that this hypnosis has led to the current, very real murder, and that the magician is to blame. Then, before you can saw abracadabra, the daughter is herself found dead. And not just normal-dead, but missing-half-her-body dead. Add to that nighttime rituals, dark dreams, and other occult goings-on, and you have a story that would give anybody nightmares.