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Murphy’s Law: Complete Collection

Release Year:   2003 – 2007
Studio:   Acorn Media
Format:   Colour; NTSC; Widescreen; Box Set
Rated:   Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:   9 / 23
Running Time:   23 h 15 m
DVD Release Date:   August 30, 2011

Creator:   Colin Bateman
Actors:   James Nesbitt, Del Synnott, Sarah Berger
DVD Features:   James Nesbitt biography and text interview; SDH subtitles
E: Top Picks Rating:   7.5/10   Adult language, nudity, disturbing images

Acorn Media Write-up:
A gritty and compelling character study of a man with nothing left to lose, MURPHY’S LAW: COMPLETE COLLECTION arrives on DVD, featuring all 23 episodes from five series of this BAFTA-nominated dramatic hit. Broadcast on BBC America, this contemporary series stars acclaimed, award-winning actor James Nesbitt (“Waking Ned Devine”, “Bloody Sunday”, “Match Point”, and Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” in 2012) as an undercover cop driven to the brink of self-destruction. The Guardian calls Nesbitt “a law unto himself” in the role created especially for him by novelist Colin Bateman (“Divorcing Jack”), and for which he won best actor at the Irish Film and Television Awards (2003). The 9-volume DVD set makes the complete series available to fans for the first time.

Detective Tommy Murphy is a broken man. Haunted by the murder of his young daughter in Northern Ireland, he flees to London to work undercover for the Metropolitan Police. Murphy battles his demons with drink and dangerous assignments, using his Irish charm and wisecracking wit to blend effortlessly into London’s seedy underworld. Over the five series in the Complete Collection, Murphy goes deep undercover to pursue the drug dealers, blackmailers, and murderers who menace the streets of London.
MURPHY’S LAW debuted in the U.K. on BBC One in April 2003. The series ran for five seasons until October 2007 and aired on BBC America in the U.S.

Jon Ted Wynne Review: 
James Nesbitt is one of the most dynamic actors I’ve seen in a long time.  His show, MURPHY’S LAW, ran for five series, before being scheduled opposite “Doc Martin”. The gritty drama couldn’t compete with the sunny comedy and was summarily cancelled. Such a shame.

This wonderful box set from Acorn Media brings the complete set of MURHPY’S LAW together so that the viewer can watch, thoroughly involved in the drama and wondering how on earth a show this good could come to an end?

Actually the answer is found in the way the series developed.

Series One of MURPHY’S LAW was lighter in tone, with Murphy being a witty Paddy (Irishman) working in England as an undercover cop. Though not without his stress and angst, the show was highly watchable because of Nesbitt’s brilliant presence and the finely-tuned pitch between drama and comedy.

Then Series Two came along and, despite striking a few sour notes, found a more intriguing, darker tone. Murphy was more intense, brooding and dangerous. Nesbitt grew an intimidating-looking moustache and worked out with a trainer to become a lean, mean fightin’ machine. The visual difference in the actor between the two series is absolutely striking.

By Series Three, the writing caught up with the actor. Although there were things I didn’t like (a great deal more foul language, for example), Nesbitt had me hooked.

(The first three series were all released individually by Acorn Media. The decision to complete the release of the series as a box set might be a little annoying to some, but viewers just wanting Series Four and Five rather than the box set can purchase them separately.)

Series Four is brilliant. Utterly captivating, edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff. Murphy is even darker and the stakes are higher.  I could hardly wait for Series Five…

And then, it imploded. The combination of being scheduled opposite the delightful, hilarious Doc Martin, and descending into nihilistic, unrelenting hell in the storyline of Series Five just gets to be too much. There is insufficient payoff for this series and despite the sheer brilliance of Nesbitt’s work, MURPHY’S LAW just goes too far at times.

It is one heck of a ride, but I was willing to see this thing through. In the end I felt like someone spit in my face. There’s a difference between hard-hitting drama and taking cheap shots. Perhaps that is a reminder that ultimately, audiences want to be entertained.

MURPHY’S LAW is a nail-biter, to be sure, but you probably will appreciate it more if you stop watching after Series Four.