TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 7 March 2015
ABOVE SUSPICION COMPLETE COLLECTION. (2009-13). From Lynda La Plante, creator of PRIME SUSPECT, the British mystery television series that was a massive worldwide hit, comes ABOVE SUSPICION, another British television series made by ITV that is based on the bestselling work of the former cop. In this value-packed collection, Set 1 is based on the crime novel ABOVE SUSPICION; Set 2, on THE RED DAHLIA and DEADLY INTENT, Set 3, on SILENT SCREAM. The author also served as screenwriter on the series. The police procedural appears to be set in the current day, in London, as the cop shop on which it focuses is assigned to the London Metropolitan, better known as the Met. The entertainment has been called "a younger, sassier successor to PRIME SUSPECT" by The Telegraph of London. This boxed DVD set of four discs gives us four feature-length mysteries running approximately 532 minutes plus meet the cast (24 minutes), conversations with cast, crew and LaPlante (37 minutes) , a behind the scenes featurette for DEADLY INTENT(10 mins.), photo galleries and more. Also, a warning, for mature audiences only, contains violence and coarse language. And, thank goodness, and let me blow a kiss to RLJ Entertainment and Acorn, who have released the set; subtitles, or else what would those of us on this side of the pond do with that quick London cross-chat? One her first day on the job, rookie detective
Anna Travis (played by rising star Kelly Reilly, BLACK BOX, SHERLOCK HOLMES) throws up at a crime scene and faints at a postmortem. Does she have what it takes to succeed in policing, still mostly a man's world? With the veteran Ciarán Hinds (GAME OF THRONES; TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY) as DCI Langton, her brusque boss. There's no question but that Hinds has developed into a middle-aged actor with the chops and the gravitas to carry the series, and that he and Reilly, unusually beautiful even among beautiful actresses, with her lush body and fine featured face, produce smoldering chemistry. The elements of the cop shop seem accurately portrayed; the script and photography are sharp and hard-edged. Somehow the gorgeous Reilly does not seem out of place in the precinct, perhaps because, or in spite of the fact that it is not universally peopled by pretty boys and girls, as an American detective show would be. The acting is uniformly fine, with appearances from some well-known British supporting players, including old-timer Sylvia Syms; Simon Williams, who played the son in the beloved UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS; Sara Stewart, (PHILOMENA), and Julian Sands, (A ROOM WITH A VIEW).
The episodes are, with thanks to Acorn:
Series 1, Disc 1: Above Suspicion
For eight years, someone has been murdering women, following the same brutal ritual each time. The most recent victim doesn't fit the profile, but evidence links her to the others. Anna volunteers to go undercover to crack the case.
Langton allows Anna to spend an evening at the ballet with the prime suspect, a handsome actor on the brink of stardom. A discovery at the place where one of the victims lived helps Anna set a trap. Meanwhile, sparks fly between Anna and Langton.
Disc 2: The Red Dahlia
A young woman's body is found by the Thames, horribly mutilated and drained of blood. It's exactly like the famously unsolved Black Dahlia murder that happened in Los Angeles--in 1947. When Anna's senior officer, DCI Morgan, falls ill, Langton steps in.
After a second victim is discovered, Anna gets too close to a journalist that the copycat killer has involved in the case. When an angry Langton suspends her, Anna has her own reasons to regret the attachment. A prime suspect is identified, but he seems to have an alibi.
An anonymous tip leads Anna and Langton to a deeply troubled family with long-buried secrets, a vain and arrogant father, and a fiercely protective housekeeper. When the murderer is cornered, the case takes a shocking final turn.
Series 2: Deadly Intent
In London, ex-cop Frank Brandon is shot dead in a drug den; his glamorous widow, Julia, is strangely unmoved. With little help from her distracted supervisor, despite Langton's orders, Travis goes in search of the truth.
As the body count rises, Langton acknowledges that Travis may be on to something. The detectives get a confession about the Frank Brandon shooting, but the other murders remain unsolved. An international drug lord seems poised to introduce a new drug to the U.K.
Series 3: Silent Scream
Hot young film star Amanda Delany is murdered; DCS Langton is called in to lead the investigating team. He wants to solve the case quickly to get back on his career track. DI Anna Travis is assigned to the team; she interviews possible suspects including several of Delany's former lovers.
Anna learns that Amanda had found a publisher for a tell-all book, so the list of suspects grows even longer. Langton visits Travis at home late one night; it's obvious that there are unresolved matters between them. The team finds and views CCTV footage from the night of the murder; a fight breaks out at Amanda's funeral.
It is not clear what the motive for Amanda's murder might have been, so it is not easy to focus on any one suspect. But the situation clarifies as the team goes about its business.
Well, there's no question but that, in addition to the superb PRIME SUSPECT, LaPlante is capable of producing weak work: see the TV series BELLA MAFIA, or the novel ROYAL FLUSH ( AKA: ROYAL HEIST). And this is an undeniably commercial production that sometimes leans to the gothic. It is hardly set among real folk: 2 episodes feature actors, one features an insanely rich powerful man of high station, and another the usual superman international drug dealer. Even so, the scripts are thrilling, tense, taut, full of twists and turns while featuring a number of cleanly-drawn characters. The two stars have robust, convincing chemistry. We found the show absorbing, gobbled up all the episodes quick as we could. When LaPlante is good, she is GOOD. Get it and see.