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Jack Taylor: Set 1 DVD Review

Jack Taylor: Set 1 DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Jack Taylor: Set 1 (2010-11)
Season & DVD Details

Writers: Ken Bruen (novels); Marteinn Thorisson, Tom Collins, Anne McCabe, Ralph Christians (screenplays) / Director: Stuart Orme / Producer: Clodagh Freeman / Executive Producers: Ralph Christians, Dirk Schweitzer, Richard Price, Klaus Bassiner, Wolfgang Witt

Regular Cast: Iain Glen (Jack Taylor), Nora Jane Noone (Garda Kate Noonan), Killian Scott (Cody Farraher)

Recurring Characters: Tara Breathnach (Anne/Ann Henderson/Hennessy), Paraic Breathnach (Father Malachy), มine Ni Mhuiri (Mrs. Taylor), Frank O'Sullivan (Superintendent Clancy), Nick Lee (Detective Sergeant Dave Kavanagh), Sํghle Nํ Chonaill (Mrs. Bailey), Midie Corcoran (Jeff)

Notable Guest Stars: Ralph Brown (Sutton), David Heap (Trevor Lanpert), Dessie Gallagher (Ted Buckley/ Pikeman 1), Sam Keeley (Frankie Buckley), Eamonn Draper (Mr. O'Shea), Macdara O'Fatharta (Bar Fly Pat Young), Paul McCloskey (Garda Doherty/Pikeman 2), Ann Marie Horan (Mrs. Farraher), Camille Yourell (Albert "Bertie" Nolan), Moya Farrelly (Sorcha Buckley), Liam Carney (Bill Cassell), Dairine Ni Dhonnchu (Maggie McCarthy), Connor Nolan (Casey Meehan), Sarah O'Toole (Young Lucifer), Sean O Maille (Brendan Flood), Josie Carlin (Mary Catherine Kerrigan), Murieann Bird (Geraldine Joanne McCarthy), Conor Delaney (Paddy Taylor), Stella McCusker (Rita Munro - uncredited)

Running Time: 272 Minutes (3 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen; Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Not Closed Captioned
Episodes Originally Aired August 2, 2010 - September 22, 2011
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99 / DVD Release Date: June 25, 2013
Three single-sided, single-layered discs (DVD-5s) / Black Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover

Buy Jack Taylor: Set 1 DVD from Amazon.com

Given all the detective mystery television series out there, especially the many originating in the British Isles,
you'd think that each show needs a unique angle to distinguish it from the pack. "Jack Taylor" seems to believe otherwise.

This Irish drama is adapted from the ongoing series of Ken Bruen crime novels that began in 2001. Played by Scottish actor Iain Glen ("Game of Thrones", Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), the titular lead character is a balding, blue-eyed, lightly bearded middle-aged Galway man who, fired from Ireland's national police guard, becomes a "finder" (private investigator). Deductive and literate, Jack Taylor is not always by the book, prone to the occasional drinking spell, and known to leave a mess that requires cleaning up. Proudly still wearing the Garda greatcoat he has technically stolen, Taylor is rugged, sly, and a tad old-fashioned, but he's not an especially dynamic personality and when he's placed at the center of a humdrum mystery (as he typically is), it makes for less than riveting television.

No source isn't credible to finder Jack Taylor (Iain Glen). Jack's young sidekick Cody Farraher (Killian Scott) breaks into church archives to solve an old crime.

The series isn't as dark as it could be and violence is featured sparingly. The show might be comparable to the senior-attracting dramas of our own CBS, if not for some profanity (including plenty of F-bombs). Taylor's thoughts are sporadically conveyed by corny voiceover. There are bursts of style (mostly bold color timing in passing), but despite a few striking compositions, you'd never mistake this for cinema. A number of characters recur, as new episodes build upon and reference the events featured in previous ones.

"Jack Taylor" mysteries fill two hours of airtime on the Irish station TV3. Without commercials, each boasts a feature length runtime of around 90 minutes. Comparable to most English mystery series and CBS' Jesse Stone TV movies, episodes are staggered and not part of a clearly-defined, self-contained season. The first three mysteries, which premiered in Ireland from 2010 to 2011 and finally reached the UK winter 2013, come together to form Set 1, a three-disc DVD released to Region 1 today by Acorn Media.

Jack Taylor (Iain Glen) runs afoul of masked vigilantes calling themselves The Pikemen in "The Pikemen." Jack Taylor (Iain Glen) narrowly escapes death at the hands of an ailing former classmate (Liam Carney) in "The Magdalen Martyrs."

1. "The Guards" (1:25:47) (Originally aired August 2, 2010)

For the fourth time in recent days, a Galway girl is discovered drowned in an apparent suicide. Jack is hired by Anne Hennessy (Tara Breathnach), a young mother who fears her missing teenager may be the next to turn up dead.

While there is nary a trace of the missing Sarah, her mother emerges as both a love interest to Jack and a potential suspect.

2. "The Pikemen" (1:33:57) (Originally aired September 1-8, 2011)

A year after the previous episode, Jack returns to Galway, where he investigates the suspicious death of a young man declared a suicide. Jack is reluctantly aided by Cody (Killian Scott), a teenaged admirer who would like to be his partner. Their work points to a secret society of masked vigilantes as well as a real estate developer with friends in high places. The case is complicated when Jack is framed for murder.

3. "The Magdalen Martyrs" (1:32:28) (Originally aired September 15-22, 2011)

To the dismay of an ailing drug lord (Liam Carney), Jack and Cody investigate a 50-year-old murder at a girls' home run by sadistic nuns, an incident that hits close to home for Jack's mother (มine Ni Mhuiri). In addition, teenaged children of a former guard are killed in what appears to be targeted retribution.

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Jack Taylor" is shot on digital video unbefitting of the material. Still, the DVD's 1.78:1 widescreen picture is sharp and untroubled. Offered exclusively in Dolby 2.0 stereo, the sound is basic but fine. A series like this could have sprung for 5.1-channel audio, but that apparently still isn't the norm for Irish TV. Viewers challenged by the cast's brogues will appreciate the yellow English SDH subtitles, which for some reason are activated by default.

Each episode is treated to a photo gallery, but that's it for extras. Each disc's main menu synopsizes the featured episode.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Each disc includes a photo gallery,
or rather a scored 1-3-minute, hands-free slideshow displaying images from that disc's installment.

Disc 1 opens with a two-minute promo for other Acorn Media-distributed TV shows (most of them British mysteries) and individual trailers for "Single-Handed": Set 1 and "Murphy's Law": Series 2.

Each disc's briefly-animated main menu recycles cover/disc art imagery, adding theme music and an episode synopsis.

The three discs occupy a standard-sized keepcase, topped by a plain slipcover and holding an insert advertising Acorn's social network presences and streaming service.

Young Cody Farraher (Killian Scott) and old-school, hard-nosed Jack Taylor (Iain Glen) make an unlikely team of crime-solvers in the Irish mystery series "Jack Taylor."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There isn't much to distinguish "Jack Taylor" from other TV mystery series. The hero is relatively unremarkable and his cases aren't too gripping. It's passable, but familiar entertainment that likely requires an appreciation for either Ken Bruen's books or Irish culture to enjoy with any passion.

Acorn Media's DVD is serviceable, but skimpy on extras and relatively high-priced. It's not a recommended sight unseen purchase, but those entering with modest expectations or an insatiable appetite for the genre may be satisfied.

Buy Jack Taylor: Set 1 DVD from Amazon.com

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Related Reviews:
Above Suspicion: Set 2 • Dirk Gently • Life on Mars (US): The Complete Series • The Killing: The Complete First Season
Jesse Stone: No Remorse • The Guard • Stand Off • The Anderson Tapes & Physical Evidence • Priest of Evil • In the Cut & Trapped
Castle: The Complete First Season • The Iron Lady • A Good Day to Die Hard • Upside Down • Jack Reacher • Edge of Darkness • Quartet • Pusher

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Reviewed June 25, 2013.



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