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Above Suspicion: Set 3 DVD Review

Above Suspicion: Set 3 DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Above Suspicion: Silent Scream (2012)
Season & DVD Details

Writer: Lynda La Plante (novel Silent Scream & teleplay) / Director: Catherine Morshead / Executive Producers: Lynda La Plante, Liz Thorburn / Producer: Cherry Gould

Cast: Kelly Reilly (DI Anna Travis), Ciarán Hinds (DCS James Langton), Shaun Dingwall (DCI Mike Lewis), Michelle Holmes (DC Barbara Maddox), Celyn Jones (DS Paul Barolli), Amanda Lawrence (DS Joan Faulkland), Geoff Bell (Harry James), Dara Devaney (Sean O'Dell), Samantha Coughlan (Helen Mitchell), Jack Fortune (Mr. Delany), Bryony Hannah (Felicity Turner), Kate O'Flynn (Jeanie Bale), Alex Price (Dan Hutchins), Leo Gregory (Lester James), Ray McCallan (Tony James), Michael Simkins (Deputy Commissioner Walters), Sara Stewart (Andrea Lesser), Joanna Vanderham (Amanda Delany), Lucy Whybrow (Mrs. Delany), William Miller (Rupert Mitchell), Tom Wisdom (Scott Myers), Philip Arditti (George Peroz), Danny Webb (Josh Lyons), Ray Fearon (DCI Sam Power), Nyasha Hatendi (David Edwards), Thusitha Jayasundera (Veronica Malins), Eve Ponsonby (Emma Field), Georgina Sutcliffe (Fiona Myers), Paul Thornley (Mike Reynolds), Simon Treves (Mr. Thompson)

Running Time: 140 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 9-23, 2012
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99/ DVD Release Date: February 25, 2014
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9) / Black Keepcase

Buy Above Suspicion: Set 3 DVD from Amazon.com

Mystery series make up a considerable amount of the United Kingdom's scripted television programming.
It's not hard to understand why. They're relatively easy and inexpensive to make. People generally enjoy watching them. And there is absolutely no shortage of novels that can be adapted to fit the nation's short season mold.

Lynda La Plante knows this as well as anyone. The 70-year-old former actress has been writing simultaneously for print and television for over thirty years. Her best-known creation would be "Prime Suspect", a Helen Mirren vehicle that began in the early 1990s and continues to be revived every once in a while, most recently in 2006. A US version NBC introduced in the 2011-12 season did not take. La Plante nonetheless remains in demand back at home, where she just announced she's writing a "Prime Suspect" prequel.

La Plante's latest of numerous works outside that franchise is "Above Suspicion", a series in the prevailing genre. It will not rival "Suspect" in longevity, for its latest outing, its fourth series of three installments broadcast in successive Januarys, was determined to be its last. This British show doesn't seem to have made much, if any, impression in the United States, despite the fact that it stars two actors who are familiar to many American moviegoers: Kelly Reilly of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes series and Flight and Ciarán Hinds of so many films (among them, There Will Be Blood, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, where he played Dumbledore's brother).

Detectives Langton (Ciarán Hinds) and Travis (Kelly Reilly) have the good fortune to spot the very crucifix found at the crime scene in one of the deceased's movies.

The two play London Metropolitan police detectives, whose work is their entire lives, as far as the series is concerned. Subtitled Silent Scream after La Plante's novel of the same name, the fourth batch of this procedural requires no prior viewing. It's not taking time to introduce these characters, but then they are always secondary to the plot. This time out, DCI James Langton (Hinds) and DI Anna Travis (Reilly) are investigating the death of Amanda Delany (Joanna Vanderham), a 24-year-old film actress.

Stardom has been a curse for Delany, who used cocaine and other hard drugs, had a history of promiscuity, and was a nightmare to work with. Delany's murder at home by multiple stab wounds is a puzzle for Langton, Travis and company to solve. Langton has something else on his mind too: he's surprised and devastated to have been passed up for a promotion to commander, hurt by the botched Fitzpatrick investigation (dramatized in the third series Deadly Intent). He buried the embarrassing oversights of that case and now believes that a colleague brought it to the attention of his superiors. As such, no co-worker is, ahem, above suspicion for the embittered Langton, not even the trusted Travis.

Travis, it bears repeating from my last review, is a most unconvincing portrayal of a dedicated homicide detective. She endures these emotionally taxing endless days and nights in tight blouses, high heels, short skirts, her extensive make-up, tan, and fiery red hair always perfect. I suppose you don't cast Reilly to ugly her up, not for anything less than an Oscar bid, which she doesn't seem to be making anytime soon, having moved to headlining the ABC medical drama "Black Box" that will debut in late April.

The troubled existence of slain film actress Amanda Delany (Joanna Vanderham) takes shape in flashbacks. Amanda's death adds depression to the woes of her broke old roommates.

"Above Suspicion" isn't a show you watch to bolster your appreciation for criminal investigators or to deeply empathize with what they do. It's an airport paperback page-turner translated to the small screen with entertainment value the top priority. It does a decent job of realizing that goal. It makes for fast, engaging viewing you're likely to forget in a matter of weeks, if not days.
Hinds and Reilly have no difficulty with the average material, which is capably directed by longtime small screen veteran Catherine Morshead. The proceedings never get too grisly, dark or dramatic. They're plenty contrived and routine, but that doesn't make you stop watching or eager to finish.

Langton, Travis and their colleagues look into leads: actors Delany had affairs with, her broke and struggling old flatmates, her dubious agent, the driver who found the body, and the publisher who was considering her memoir. Conveniently, everyone is hiding something and the detectives will uncover just what before these 3 hour-long commercial broadcasts are finished. A critical piece of evidence is incredibly spotted as a crucifix prop from one of Delany's movies. The would-be illuminating CCTV feeds from across the street require patience, having been captured by cameras owned by vacationing Russian diplomats. You could be insulted by such transparent devices, but the show is far too innocuous to warrant such scorn.

For much of the runtime, this remains a compelling mystery that keeps you guessing even while calling your attention to some obvious clues. It suffers from another slightly unsatisfying resolution, not to the degree of the prior installment but complicated by the utter lack of finality which the subsequent cancellation retroactively demanded.

Since Acorn Media bundled the first two seasons as "Set 1" and then released the third on its own, season/series four becomes Set 3, a single-disc DVD released earlier this week, four months after appearing in the company's subscription streaming service, Acorn TV.

DCIs Lewis (Shaun Dingwall) and Langton (Ciarán Hinds) mean business. Jeanie Bale (Kate O'Flynn) seems to be hiding something.

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Above Suspicion"'s latest and final disc squarely meets expectations for a new television series on DVD. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen picture is fine, untroubled by what seems to be above-average compression and plagued by nothing worse than infrequent shimmering, depending on your player. The sound is presented only in 2.0 stereo instead of full 5.1, but it doesn't pose any problems and if the accents elude your American ears, you can always consult the yellow English SDH subtitles included, which for some reason are turned on by default.

Ciarán Hinds discusses the character he's portrayed many times over. These three actors discuss The James Brothers, the unit-driving siblings they portray.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The DVD's numerous low-def extras begin with "Meet the Main Cast" (9:29), which has the returning lead actors discuss their characters and their duties this time around.

"Meet the Guest Cast" (11:35) has Joanna Vanderham and the series' other notable newcomers provide similar description for their supporting roles, again complemented by some behind-the-scenes footage.

"The James Brothers" (4:38) captures thoughts from the three actors playing the series' sketchy unit drivers.

Author Lynda La Plante discusses the plot of "Silent Scream." The almost-romance of Travis and Langton features in this publicity still from the DVD's photo gallery.

Another interview finds Author Lynda La Plante explaining (2:44) how she
drew from her own acting experiences to write about Silent Scream's movie star murder.

Director Catherine Morshead (4:26) addresses joining this series and the cast, some of whom she's worked with before and some of whom she hasn't.

Cherry Gould gets the chance to speak at length (6:31) about her experience as the series' producer, which she uses to celebrate her cast and crew.

Finally, a photo gallery (1:11) offers a slideshow of publicity stills set to score.

The disc opens with Acorn Media's standard two-minute library promo followed by trailers for "The Fall": Series 1 and "Falcón."

The menu animates the backdrop behind the cover art while playing score. As usual, Acorn equips each episode with an on-disc synopsis and scene selection list.

An insert promoting Acorn TV and the company's social network presences are all that joins the plain disc inside the unslipcovered black keepcase.

Even the tech-illiterate DCI James Langton (Ciarán Hinds) recognizes the importance of securing closed circuit television tapes of the crime scene.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Uninterested in shocking or subverting, "Above Suspicion" is nothing out of the ordinary, but it is at its end a polished and consistently engaging mystery series. It's the kind of thing you can watch once, enjoy, and never have a desire to revisit or to even see the other seasons. That makes it more suited to rental or stream than a purchase, but Acorn's DVD has enough bells and whistles to make it preferable and worthwhile for those who still find it the best and easiest way to watch something on their own schedule. If you like the British institution of procedural mystery television and/or these actors, I think you won't regret giving this fine yet unremarkable program a look.

Buy Above Suspicion: Set 3 DVD at Amazon.com

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Related Reviews:
Above Suspicion: Set 2 | New: The Broker's Man: Series 1Under CapricornWatchtowerNebraska
Ciarán Hinds: There Will Be BloodHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2Race to Witch MountainThe Rite
Kelly Reilly: FlightSherlock HolmesSherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows | Joanna Vanderham: What Maisie Knew
Acorn TV: The Fall: Series 1Jack Taylor: Set 1Jack Irish: Set 1Dirk GentlyTales of the City: 20th Anniversary Edition
Shadow DancerCastle: The Complete First Season | More Ciarán Hinds: John CarterGhost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

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Reviewed February 28, 2014.



Text copyright 2014 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 La Plante Productions, ITV Studios Global Entertainment, and 2014 Acorn Media and RLJ Entertainment.
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