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Kidnap & Ransom

Release Year:         2010
Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Colour; NTSC; Widescreen
Rated:         Not Rated; Contains violence, nudity, and coarse language
# of Discs/Episodes:         2/ 6
Running Time:         276 min.
DVD Release Date:         October 2, 2012
Creators:          Patrick Harbison
Actors:         Trevor Eve, Helen Baxendale, Natasha Little
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         9/10

Acorn Media Write-up: 
This taut series from creator Patrick Harbinson (“24”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) revolves around master negotiator Dominic King. From the first phone call with kidnappers to risky excursions into exotic and dangerous locales, King places himself in the line of fire to bring the victims home.

Played with steely restraint by veteran actor Trevor Eve (“Waking the Dead”), King has a brash negotiating style that lands him in hot water with publicity-minded police and politicians. His unconventioanl tactics also draw ire from the British Foreign Office, as well as his wife, Sophie (Natasha Little, “Case Histories”), and business partner, Angela (Helen Baxendale, “An Unsuitable Job for a Woman”).

Filmed on location, KIDNAP & RANSOM examines the alarming rise of international kidnapping with gripping realism. This set includes the complete Series 1 and 2 of the acclaimed thriller, with guest stars including John Hannah (“The Mummy”), Patrick Baladi (“The Office”, U.K.), and Sharon Small (“The Inspector Lynley Mysteries”).

BONUS
Interview with Trevor Eve (10 min.), introduction by Michael Crompton, and kidnapping statistics

Jon Ted Wynne Review:    
Trevor Eve is an actor whose work I’ve seldom seen, though there have been some close calls. While a student at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in the early ’80s, Eve was starring in a Detective show called “Shoestring,” which was very popular at the time and has since achieved cult status. He’d just come off a very successful adaptation of “Dracula” (arguably the best version ever) starring Louis Jourdan. As I didn’t have a television in those days I missed “Shoestring”, but saw “Dracula” on my return to Canada in 1982 when it was re-broadcast. Just after the run of “Shoestring” I went to London to see Eve in a stage production of “Children of a Lesser God” but was disappointed to find his understudy on that day. Eve won a prestigious London theatre award for his performance. Though my appreciation of his talents was limited, Eve was a household name in the U.K. and even gave Hollywood a shot in the mid-1980s.

Eve has since cemented his television stardom in the U.K. with a particularly strong fan base for his work on the recent series “Waking The Dead”, which ran for nine years.

It is this actor’s strong presence and deliberate style of acting that is the stand-out feature of KIDNAP & RANSOM which unfortunately only ran for two series of three episodes each.

Kidnapping and ransoming is not common as a crime in North America but in other parts of the world it is epidemic. It is a strong premise for a series and it is a shame the show wasn’t allowed to find its “legs” and really develop.

Deliberately-paced plots always run the risk of becoming lugubrious and losing the audience, especially if the protagonist is underplaying his role (as is the case here). It’s a bad combination which undoubtedly led to the series’ demise. On the other hand if you are looking for some variation amidst the plethora of police procedural dramas that are out there, this may well be it.

Filmed on location in South Africa there is a cinematic quality to this program that shows the care that went into it. Trevor Eve serves as one of the producers, which likely contributed to this achievement. Eve re-directed his creative focus in 1995 when an accident while playing polo rendered him incapable of acting for a few years. He was almost paralysed by the accident but fortunately recovered. Now he accomplishes both endeavours with the sure hand of experience and artistic integrity.

As a retired army officer, Eve plays master negotiator Dominic King. His coolness under pressure and his insistence in not carrying a firearm (except in extreme cases) make him stand out from those around him (law enforcement and kidnappers). At first I thought Eve’s characterization too weak and unbelievable, but his approach grew on me and when I watched the 10 minute bonus feature interview with Eve in which he explains the meticulous research into the program and the background of real-life negotiators, I was able to buy into this somewhat unconventional leading man’s way of getting the job done.

The stand-out among the supporting cast is the luminous Helen Baxendale, another unconventional actor, moreso for her distinctive look than anything else. Ms Baxendale has a prominent nose and deep-set eyes that may not strike the viewer as attractive initially, but the more you see her the more you like what you see. She’s quite stunning. And her range as an actor is well-documented. She was a wonderful Lady Macbeth in a lack-lustre film version of Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” a number of years ago. Her work as Dominic’s business partner who runs the show from headquarters is wholly believable and her eventual attraction to her co-worker as his marriage unravels never seems forced or formulaic.

John Hannah gets to play against type as one of the chief villains and a number of lesser-known actors shine by giving intense performances that add to the show’s dramatic impact.

KIDNAP & RANSOM is definitely worth watching, particularly for fans of Trevor Eve.

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