Release Year: 2010
Studio: Acorn Media
Format: Colour; NTSC; Widescreen
Rated: Not Rated; Contains violence, graphic images, coarse language, and nudity
# of Discs/Episodes: 2/ 2
Running Time: Approx. 254 min.
Creators: Lynda La Plante
Actors: Kelly Reilly, Ciaran Hinds
DVD Features: SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating: 10/10
Acorn Media Write-up:
On her first day on the job, rookie detective Anna Travis (Kelly Reilly, Sherlock Holmes) wears the wrong shoes, throws up at a crime scene, and faints at a postmortem. Does she have what it takes to succeed in what is still mostly a man’s world?
Based on the bestselling novels by Lynda La Plante, this hit British police drama is a “younger, sassier successor to Prime Suspect” (The Telegraph, U.K.). Acclaimed actor Ciaran Hinds (There Will Be Blood, The Debt) is Anna’s brusque boss, DCI James Langton, whose interest in his new charge quickly turns personal. Set 1 includes two feature-length dramas: Above Suspicion (pilot) and The Red Dahlia.
BONUS Behind-the-scenes segments for Above Suspicion (23 min.) and The Red Dahlia (28 min.), cast interviews (4 min.), photo galleries, and more
Jon Ted Wynne Review:
Lynda La Plante continues her astounding output as a writer of the finest crime dramas seen on television. ABOVE SUSPICION is even more impressive because it is based on her own novels. This first box set of five episodes (Set 1 is two episodes and Set 2 is three) is thoroughly gripping, impeccably produced and flawlessly acted.
Never one to shy away from gritty realism, La Plante outdoes herself here, especially in the drama based on her novel the THE RED DAHLIA. It’s as graphic as anything I’ve ever seen and very disturbing. Fortunately Ms. La Plante also understands how to tell a morality tale as well, for without a satisfying conclusion, audiences would otherwise be overwhelmed by the unrelenting bleakness of her stories. That is not the case here, and although women are victims, they are also the victors.
Speaking of women, it is central to every La Plante creation that strong women characters feature prominently in the stories. While there is no doubt she has done much to advance the cause of feminism, La Plante is no soapbox advocate. She simply writes good stories, and her female protagonists are simply part of those stories. No preaching, just good storytelling. There is much to be said for this in light of the political agenda found in so many programs today.
Ciaran Hinds plays the gruff DCI James Langton and he brings a weight and depth to the show that keeps the story’s intensity at a high pitch throughout. He is perfectly balanced opposite gorgeous and wonderfully talented Kelly Reilly, who has been making a splash as Jude Law’s Dr Watson’s wife in the first two Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes films. The supporting cast is excellent and the style of the show, with its use of frequent contrapuntal cutting between scenes is very effective and distinct from the visual style of some of her other shows, most notably TRIAL & RETRIBUTION, which used split screen to great effect.
La Plante’s stamp is all over this series and that means, among other things, lots of DVD extras. As a producer, La Plante knows that audiences want to know what goes on behind the scenes, and when spectacularly graphic makeup effects are created, it’s fun to see how they are made. Such features remind us that this is not reality, but an entertainment and, although shocking and brutal aspects are invariably part of a La Plante drama, we can rest assured that no one was really hurt and it is all make-believe.
Acorn Media, that fast-growing distributor of quality British programming, has again provided closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing, ensuring that their ever-widening audience excludes no one. It never hurts either, as the dialogue is often sharp and the plots are intricate. Not to mention the various British accents. Captioning ensures we don’t miss a word. There’s a reason Acorn Media has recently obtained the majority rights to Agatha Christie’s collected works. They want to do things right. By choosing another Lynda La Plante opus, they have once again demonstrated their penchant for choosing quality programming.