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Above Suspicion: Set 2 DVD Review

Above Suspicion: Set 2 DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Above Suspicion: Deadly Intent (2011)
Season & DVD Details

Writers: Lynda La Plante (novel Deadly Intent & teleplay), Noel Farragher (teleplay) / Director: Gillies MacKinnon / Executive Producers: Lynda La Plante, Liz Thorburn / Producer: Hugh Warren

Cast: Kelly Reilly (DI Anna Travis), Ciarán Hinds (DCS James Langton), Shaun Dingwall (DCI Mike Lewis), Celyn Jones (DS Paul Barolli), Amanda Lawrence (Joan Faulkland), Stine Stengade (Julia Larson), Benedikte Hansen (Helga Nolan), Julian Sands (Damian Nolan), Richard Clothier (Pete Jenkins), Ray Fearon (DCI Sam Power), Richard Brake (Marshall/Alexander Fitzpatrick), Robbie Gee (Silas Roach), Andrew Woodall (David Rushton), James Clyde (Julias D'Anton), Tilly Blackwood (Sadie D'Anton), Kim Romer (Faber), Aliash Tepina (Andrej), Kirris Riviere (Joshua White), Enzo Squillino (Danny Petrozzo), Ashley George (Eddie Court), Marko Lens (Surgeon), Geoffrey Streatfield (Jeremy Webster), Callum Sutherland (Frank Brandon), Natalie Walter (Connie Short), Marjorie Yates (Mrs. Webster), Veronica Malins (Thusitha Jayasundera)

Running Time: 138 Minutes (3 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen; Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English; Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
UK Airdates: January 3-January 5, 2011
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99/ DVD Release Date: February 5, 2013
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9) / Black Keepcase

Buy Above Suspicion: Set 2 DVD from Amazon.com

There is no end to police procedural drama on television and the phenomenon is hardly unique to America. The UK has considerably more entries to the genre in number, but per their TV standards, most air in self-contained batches of just a few episodes, instead of meeting the week-in, week-out demands of the various incarnations of "Law & Order" and "CSI."

The British TV model lends itself to quick, timely reviews, except when shows get multi-disc sets combining seasons to maximize consumer value. "Above Suspicion": Set 2 had a running time of just over two hours and came on a relatively slow week, so I decided to give it a whirl, having not seen Set 1 or knowing much about the series, but being familiar with the work of lead actors Kelly Reilly and Ciarán Hinds, who have both repeatedly shown up on Hollywood's radars in recent years.
Reilly has appeared in Flight and both of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes movies, while Hinds' 21st century filmography is about as long and distinguished as any actor and includes turns in such films as There will Be Blood, Munich, Race to Witch Mountain, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and the Harry Potter finale.

"Above Suspicion" is based on a series of novels by English author Lynda La Plante, creator of the long-running, Emmy-winning "Prime Suspect" series that starred Helen Mirren. Launched in 2004, the "Above Suspicion" line adds a new book just about every year. Four of them were adapted into short television seasons (called "series" in the UK) on ITV, premiering in successive Januarys from 2009 to 2012. Last summer, ITV announced the program's cancellation. In March 2012, Acorn Media began releasing the show to DVD in the US, with Set 1 holding the first two seasons on two discs. Arriving next week, Set 2 curiously chooses not to follow suit and supply the final two seasons. Instead, it only holds the third season, titled "Above Suspicion: Deadly Intent", on a single disc, leaving US "Above Suspicion" fans in suspense and making them wait to complete their Region 1 DVD collection of the show.

Detective Inspector Anna Travis (Kelly Reilly) holds up a print-out on one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted criminals. A list of license plate numbers seems to distress Detective Chief Superintendent James Langton (Ciaran Hinds).

"Deadly Intent" centers on the murder of a retired DI (that's Detective Inspector), who is found dead in a known London crack house.
The case reunites DCS (Detective Chief Superintendent) James Langton (Hinds) and freshly promoted DI Anna Travis (Reilly), both of whom are determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, as their reputations are on the line. Their investigation leads to a fiancée, a Danish wife, the wife's sister and her husband, an upset neighbor family, a young drug user, a bold drug dealer, the potent and lucrative black market drug Fentanyl, and a long-missing fugitive on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.

Standard dramatic television, the show fixes on Anna Travis, who generates interest from all her male colleagues while her methods create some friction among her superiors. Realism clearly takes a back seat to sex appeal here. The daughter of a late, respected detective, Travis, who seemingly works around the clock and whose personal life we never see, somehow always looks stunning and perfectly made-up as she carries out her duties in tight tank tops and form-fitting skirts, while fending off flirtation, most persistently from her reliable go-to forensic scientist. I guess whereas in the US our tanned redhead, "CSI: Miami" star David Caruso, cracks a pun and puts on his sunglasses, in the UK, they expect theirs to look improbably glamorous on the job. Presumably, those who actually work in crime investigation don't have an appetite for this sort of thing and viewers expect to be diverted and have their minds occupied rather than getting a realistic taste of actual police work.

Reilly is a talented actress, as Flight made known. So, as his varied credits have illustrated, is Hinds. They're both clearly capable and deserving of better material than this, but they still manage to elevate the proceedings instead of playing down. The aesthetic is a bit different from US contemporaries (there's less humor, to be sure, and some profanity, which mostly doesn't fly on US networks), but the results are comparable. There are some turns and twists, though none that are able to take you completely by surprise, since you're always looking out for them. The procedure is slick and efficient, but overdramatic at times and not so tidily resolved.

I see potential harm and no benefit to synopsizing the episodes of a mystery as compact and serialized as this one. Presented with their recaps and/or previews intact, the episodes run as follow.

DI Anna Travis (Kelly Reilly) questions Julia Larson (Stine Stengade), the coy Danish wife of the slain former detective. While everyone is a suspect, those as recognizable as Julian Sands seem a little more so.

1. Part 1 (45:57) (Originally aired January 3, 2011)

2. Part 2(46:22) (Originally aired January 4, 2011)

3. Part 3 (45:57) (Originally aired January 5, 2011)

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Above Suspicion" has the look of PAL-sourced British digital video. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is good, but not without some minor limitations, most notably blurry motion. The Dolby 2.0 stereo mix is mostly fine and anyone stumped by the accents will be glad to find English subtitles included.

Gillies MacKinnon directs Danish actress Stine Stengade in a British car on the set of "Above Suspicion: Deadly Intent." Author, writer, and executive producer Lynda La Plante describes the plot of "Deadly Intent", the series' third season.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The disc's robust supply of extras begins with "Meet the Cast" (7:23), a featurette that has the lead actors discuss their characters and where they are this season. "Meet the Guest Cast" (5:57) allows the season's secondary actors to speak about their characters.

"On the Director" (3:49) finds producer Hugh Warren and the actors acknowledging the direction of Gillies MacKinnon. "Behind the Scenes" (9:51) shares Warren's reflections on production as well as some crew-hosted B-roll footage.

"Lynda La Plante Interview" (2:45) is really just a short speech, in which the author and teleplay writer describes the story this season tells.

The most recent page of Ciarán Hinds' filmography impresses, even with the omission of such films as "Race to Witch Mountain" and "Ghost Rider 2." Kelly Reilly and Ciarán Hinds look the part of TV cops in this shot from the Above Suspicion Set 2 DVD's main menu montage.

A "Photo Gallery" (0:42) sets nine publicity stills from the season to music.

Cast Filmographies for Kelly Reilly and Ciarán Hinds
display selected film and television credits for the two actors across five text screens. Finally, a Lynda La Plante biography sings the author's praises across eight screens.

The disc opens with a two-minute sampling of the many television series Acorn Media distributes to DVD in the US (most of them British dramas) plus show-specific promos for "Touching Evil": The Complete Collection and "Vera." None of these ads are available by menu.

The main menu plays clips within a small rectangle while score plays. Submenus are static and silent. An in-case insert advertises Acorn Media's online streaming television and social networking presence.

DCS Langton (Ciaran Hinds) and DI Travis (Kelly Reilly) respond to an unexpected development with a scowl and a nail bite, respectively.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"Above Suspicion" is a typical procedural cop drama. Its chief distinction as a British program is that the season unfolds in just three serialized episodes. They are engaging, though unremarkable, striking me as slightly less realistic and hard-hitting than the interminable drawn-from-the-headlines crime series found on network and basic cable TV in the US.

Acorn Media's Set 2 DVD is satisfactory, albeit asymmetrical, requiring a further wait for the show's final season.

Buy Above Suspicion: Set 2 on DVD at Amazon.com

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Related Reviews:
New: The Seven-Per-Cent SolutionLife's Too Short: The Complete First SeasonLove MeSeven Psychopaths
The Killing: The Complete First SeasonLife on Mars: The Complete Series (US) • Jesse Stone: No Remorse
Kelly Reilly: Sherlock HolmesSherlock Holmes: A Game of ShadowsFlight | Julian Sands: ArachnophobiaOcean's Thirteen

Ciarán Hinds:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2Race to Witch MountainThere Will Be BloodJohn Carter
Ghost Rider: Spirit of VengeanceMargot at the WeddingThe RiteStop-Loss

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Reviewed January 28, 2013.



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