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Grantchester - Series 1 [DVD] [2014]
Grantchester - Series 1 [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ James Norton
Price: £7.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More, please!, 5 Jan. 2015
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Grantchester is a detective drama taking place in the 50s, near Cambridge, and featuring a detective duo: a professional (Robson Green as Inspector Geordie Keating) and an amateur (James Norton as vicar Sidney Chambers). There are six episodes, almost one hour long each, Englih subtitles and a lot of extras (the making of, interviews with the cast, material on 'women in sidney's life', deleted scenes, almost an extra hour there as well).

The stories are old-fashioned riddles, where there is a small circle of suspects, most of them well-to-do, some of them good-for-nothing. The stories are not naive, though, and solutions usually surprising. The idea to have a clergyman investigating crime is not new (Father Brown!), but Sidney, being young, handsome and Protestant, gives some scope for what we may miss in Chesterton books - a little bit of romance.He has a close friend in Amanda Kendall (very elegant Morven Christie, whom I would love to see more of in period dramas), it is obvious that they are in love with each other, but she is rich gentry and he a poor vicar. It sounds banal, but is actually not that at all, because both Sidney and Amanda are complex personalities, and sometimes, their own enemies.

There is true friendship in Sidney-Geordie relation, even though it is built on contrasts, there is no envy on the policeman's part (as we see in Father Brown), there is something of Lewis-Hathaway bond there. Also supporting characters are great, formidable mrs Maguire and lovely, vulnerable vicar Leonard. And having just watched Happy Valley I can only marvel at James Norton's talent, he is as convincing as an unorthodox and likeable vicar as he was as sadistic junkie.

There is to be a second series, which I am waiting for impatiently!

Jamaica Inn [DVD]
Jamaica Inn [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jessica Brown Findlay
Price: £6.30

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jamaica Inn, 29 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Jamaica Inn [DVD] (DVD)
It has been over 30 years since the last dramatisation of Daphne du Maurier's Jamaica Inn with Jane Seymour and Trevor Eve. This mini-series (3 episodes) stars Jessica Brown-Findlay and Matthew McNulty as Mary Yellan and Jem Merlyn. The plot in this production has been somewhat changed from the book and many events are 'sexed-up' (for want of a better term), also the motivations of some characters are rather different both from the book and the previous dramatisations (most notably Mary's aunt, Patience, is a much more complex character here, but even Joss Merlyn is treated with more compassion than in other versions).

There have been many complaints of the actors' use of regional speech and their 'mumbling'. It is true that some characters are difficult to follow, especially Sean Harris, but there are subtitles, so if you don't mind turning them on it is absolutely fine to watch. There are some extras also (interviews with the crew).

I really loved it. Jamaica Inn is one of my favourite novels and I think this series does it justice. Both the plot and the characters are reinterpreted for a modern viewer, also, the writers have gone far beyond the romantic storyline (which is great but dominates the 1983 adaptation much more than it does the book) and this is well done.

Recommended to all costume drama fans!

Happy Valley [DVD]
Happy Valley [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sarah Lancashire
Price: £7.00

5.0 out of 5 stars psychological insight, powerful personalities, 24 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Happy Valley [DVD] (DVD)
Happy Valley is a 6-part police series with Sarah Lancashire starring as sergeant Catherine Cawood and Steve Pemberton in the role of Kevin Weatherill, an unwilling and unlikely black hat.It is a must-see for following reasons:
- brilliant acting from all, particularly the two leads. I have recently seen Sarah Lancashire in Last tango in Halifax and The Paradise, in very different roles from this one and I cannot begin to describe how marvellous an actress she is.
- there are characters that are whitish and those that are blackish, some are darkly and completely black, however, with most, you are torn between compassion and revulsion
- for me this series was more a psychological drama than a police series; shows how easy it is to become evil, while all the time actually acting for good reasons or at least deluding yourself that you are.
The dvd comes with English subtitles (lucky for us that have troubles following non-standard varieties of English!).

Blue Murder - Complete Series 1-5 [DVD]
Blue Murder - Complete Series 1-5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Caroline Quentin
Price: £18.40

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feel good detective series, 21 Jan. 2014
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This is a complete collection of a 5-season long detective series. There is little extra material (with season 3, an interview with some of the cast), but the dvd is well-made, the box seems durable, and there are subtitles with all episodes.

The seasons are of varying quality and length, season 1 has episodes that are well over an hour long each, which gives the stories time to unravel properly, while by season 5 we are down at 45 minutes, which is a bit short to get involved with the characters. On the other hand, season 1 is actually just one story (over two episodes), while season 5 has 6 episodes.

The greatest asset of the series is the main character, DCI Janine Lewis, played brilliantly by Caroline Quentin. She is a single mother (the husband has done a bunk, though he weaves in and out of her life throughout the seasons) with four children and it is quite clear that she is not really coping. But she can take it in her stride, with humour and confidence. I admired her particularly when her children yelled at her that her job, keeping her away from them, is stupid, and she calmly retorted that if something happened to them, they would probably like her to have this particular job. She really believes that what she does matters.

I also liked the optimistic storyline which follows through all seasons, with Janine and her colleague, Richard, constantly on the verge of romance. Like other stories, it is lighthearted and joyful.

Britain's Serial Killer Box Set: A Is For Acid / Harold Shipman Dr Death / Brides In The Bath/This Is Personal: The Hunt For The Yorkshire Ripper [DVD]
Britain's Serial Killer Box Set: A Is For Acid / Harold Shipman Dr Death / Brides In The Bath/This Is Personal: The Hunt For The Yorkshire Ripper [DVD]
Dvd ~ Harry Bradbeer
Price: £11.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four films and much joy, 14 Oct. 2013
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The box contains four separately packaged films (one of them, 'This is personal: the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper' is almost a mini series, 3 hours long). All of them were made at roughly the same time (2002-2004), but cover very different periods: 'The Brides in the Bath' early 1900s, 'A is for Acid' 1930s and 1940s, 'Harold Shipman Dr Death' and 'This is personal' late 1900s.
Each of the films is very well made, well written, superbly acted (Alun Armstrong in This is personal!!!). Each is worth watching in its own right, but putting them together creates an even better effect, of a bizarre series following the most notorius felons in Britains history. Not to mention the financial aspect - the box costs hardly more than each of the individual films..
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 12, 2014 12:17 PM BST

Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe [DVD] [1985]
Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe [DVD] [1985]
Dvd ~ Ben Kingsley
Price: £5.50

5.0 out of 5 stars haunting, 14 Sept. 2013
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An excellent dramatisation of a less known novel by George Elliott, with wonderful cast (Ben Kingsley in particular).

An additional bonus is a one-hour long film about George Elliott, a sort of para-documentary, starring Harriet Walter as George Elliott, very informative and well-done, adds to the value of this dvd.

Far From The Madding Crowd [DVD]
Far From The Madding Crowd [DVD]
Dvd ~ Paloma Baeza
Price: £3.30

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars marvellous!, 10 Sept. 2013
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I was hooked from the first moments. This is a beautiful story of faithful and selfless love as well as of love that needs time to develop, grow, strengthen and know its own mind. How seldom does the former last long enough for the latter to mature..

The cast of the production is excellent: marvellous Paloma Baeza, who is beautiful and enchanting, and who changes with time, circumstances, people around her; superb Nathaniel Parker, who is absolutely irresistible as the honourable and steadfast Oak, but also Jonathan Firth, Nigel Terry, Linda Bassett..

The music is haunting, the dialogue true to Hardy's novel, it is beatifully shot. I wish the dvd would include some extras (it does not) like interviews with the cast or some material about Hardy, that would make it perfect!

Paradise Postponed - The Complete Series [DVD] [1986]
Paradise Postponed - The Complete Series [DVD] [1986]
Dvd ~ William Hootkins
Price: £15.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, 9 Sept. 2013
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On the up side: truly superb acting and many familiar faces for costume drama fans to be seen here.

On the down side: a rather muddled script (but maybe that's just staying true to the books), difficult to follow. This is made a true challenge since there are no subtitles and the series is so old that the sound quality is very poor. So if you were planning to buy it for your elderly mother who was feeling sentimental, make sure her hearing is excellent or she knows the story by heart, otherwise she may be lost in episode one.

If you enjoy book adaptations or older films you may like it but if you are looking for an older period drama similar to The Forsyte Saga (with Eric Porter) or The Pallisers, this is not it.

Agatha Christie's Tommy And Tuppence: Partners In Crime [DVD]
Agatha Christie's Tommy And Tuppence: Partners In Crime [DVD]
Dvd ~ Francesca Annis
Price: £12.60

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable!, 9 Sept. 2013
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This dvd includes the film The Secret Adversary (based on Agatha Christie's book with the same title) and a 10-part series Partners in Crime (based on a collection of her short stories). The sound and picture quality are pretty good (the productions are almost 30 years old) and there are subtitles and some extras (e.g. on Tuppence's dresses).

Both the film and the series are very enjoyable, especially if you like a somewhat slow-paced old-fashioned crime drama. James Warwick makes a perfect Tommy - very likeable, sharp-witted when necessary, extremely well-mannered and polite, sometimes a bit clumsy in a very charming way. Francesca Annis is a good Tuppence as well, although I never thought her so much focused on her looks and clothes from the books - but the fashion itself is also interesting to watch.

On the whole, a pleasure!

The White Queen [DVD]
The White Queen [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rebecca Ferguson
Offered by 101Trading
Price: £10.80

61 of 69 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good drama, shoddy dvd, 7 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The White Queen [DVD] (DVD)
This series is a decent historical drama, a sort of prequel to the Tudors, with less violence.

It covers a long period in the lives of the main characters, but the producers have chosen not to indicate the passing of the time in any way, which leads to some confusion (of two women aged twenty something, which one is supposed to be the lady mother?) and, I can only assume unintended, humour (two agile radiant youths lying in bed telling each other 'we are not young anymore'). Therefore it is sometimes difficult to see how much time is supposed to have passed.

Many have commented on too much magic present in the series - Elizabeth's mother has been tried for witchcraft and the contemporaries believed Elizabeth herself to be a witch too. I don't think the magic is bad - we see things happening, like storms, after some curses have been cast, but it is up to us to believe that the curses may actually have caused the storms. There is a nice parallalel to Elizabeth's magic in Margaret's religious devotion, she too is very involved with higher powers, always on the lookout for signs and miracles. And she too interprets the events as being divinely directed.

The dvd itself - a disaster. There are no subtitles - as if this was a 40 year old production only recently restored and nobody bothered with subtitling it. There is almost nothing to choose in the menus: there is no scene selection! You may just select an episode. And, as an extra bonus, of the four dvds, three force you to watch commercials (yes, and no way can you choose the menu directly!), which I find the cheapest trick, since this is no bonus dvd delivered with a morning paper for and extra pound, this is a relatively expensive, brand new box-set.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2013 2:56 PM GMT

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