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Trial and Retribution: Set 6

Release Year:         2008
Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Box set; Colour; NTSC; Widescreen
Rated:         Not Rated; Contains nudity, disturbing images, and coarse language
# of Discs/Episodes:         2 / 4
Running Time:         361 minutes
DVD Release Date:         January 1, 2013
Creator:         Lynda La Plante
Screenwriters:         Dudi Appleton, Jim Keeble, Damian Wayling, Jane Prowse, Tony McHale
Directors:         Tristram Powell, Julian Holmes, Stefan Schwartz, Ben Ross
Actors:         David Hayman, Victoria Smurfit
DVD Features:        Three behind-the-scenes featurettes
E:Top Picks Rating:    9.5 / 10

Acorn Media write-up:
Offering the four concluding mysteries from the “Prime Suspect” creator’s hit series, TRIAL & RETRIBUTION, Set 6 debuts on DVD from Acorn Media on January 1, 2013. Created and written by Emmy nominee and BAFTA winner Lynda La Plante, this long-running, hit British crime series displays the same gritty realism and penetrating drama that made Prime Suspect a television landmark. Akin to “Law & Order”, TRIAL & RETRIBUTION takes viewers from the crime scene to the forensics laboratory and from police headquarters to the courtroom. Set 6 features the last four feature-length mysteries of the series, rich with innovative storytelling and compelling, fully realized characters.

David Hayman (“Sid and Nancy”) and Victoria Smurfit (“About a Boy”) deliver outstanding performances as DCS Mike Walker and DCI Roisin Connor, two fervently committed investigators on the London police force. The series follows each of their cases from the scene of the crime to the jury’s verdict, portraying with uncompromising realism the professional and personal pressures that detectives endure. In Set 6’s final four mysteries, police investigate a teenager’s murder, the sensational automobile accidence and death of a man and his famous fiancee, a teenager’s fatal fall from a Ferris wheel, and a jewelry robbery gone awry. Guest stars include Roy Marsden (“P.D. James Mysteries”)  Benjamin Whitrow (“Pride and Prejudice”) and Ashley Madekwe (“Revenge”).

Jon Ted Wynne review:
After a few episodes that left viewers wondering if TRIAL & RETRIBUTION had lost its edge, Acorn Media presents the last four episodes of the hit British series (all two-parters). Happily, these four feature-length dramas are all excellent.

The first story is called “Tracks” and features a scary-looking Roy Marsden as one of the principle characters. Marsden is perhaps best know as P.D. James’ intrepid policeman Adam Dalgliesh in a series of television adaptations of James’ popular novels. He is quite the opposite character here with his shaven head and hard edge.

From the first sequence of a dead body in the rain and mud, it is clear that TRIAL & RETRIBUTION is back. Giving the show that extra zip (to balance with the graphic content) are some wonderfully funny lines which pop up unexpectedly. “Giving up smiling for Lent?” one dour-faced individual is asked. Or when a young thief who is trying to explain why he is in possession of some stolen items bearing the name “Maria” (he claims that is HIS name) is confronted with “Maria? Your mum like The Sound of Music or something?”

David Hayman is his usual hard-nosed self, though I have to admit he has the occasional moment where his performance isn’t convincing–very rare for this fine actor. Rest assured he still bites the filters off his cigarettes. Victoria Smurfit is much more palatable in this series of episodes than the previous shows when her hardness made her very unlikeable. Here she shows some vulnerability and her relationship with Hayman’s Mike Walker is more interesting, in part because they seem to actually care about one another. Smurfit’s Roisin Connor also reveals some good judgment in her personal life (for a change) as she contemplates becoming involved with a colleague, indicating that her character is maturing. An interesting side note is that Roisin is often lit in such a way as to show her bad skin, something you’d never see in a U.S. cop drama. This touch keeps her real and in some ways enhances her flaws, making it easier for the viewer to relate to her.

Dorian Lough continues to be as fine a supporting actor in a police drama as I’ve ever seen as “Satch”. You know the type of role: large supporting part, always on hand to assist the stars, do the leg work and get yelled at when things go awry. He’s wonderful in the role. (Lough also narrates the outstanding behind the scenes featurettes that accompany three of the tales). Lough is particularly good in the last episode, “Shooter”, which leaves his future with the police force up in the air, something that will never be resolved now that the series is over. As it stands, the viewer is left to wonder if Satch will remain with the force and become as single-minded about his work as his boss, Mike Walker–to the detriment of a fulfilling domestic life–or will his new-born baby represent a rebirth in his own life and career. We will never know but the fact that we wonder about it is proof that TRIAL & RETRIBUTION has wound its way into our hearts.

Story number three, “Ghost Train” takes place in a carnival setting, and features a wonderful tribute to Christoper Lee as Dracula, whose menacing fang-filled face looms down from the titular Ghost Train ride. It’s great to see Roisin Connor (Victoria  Smurfit) having fun as she and Vince Leigh as her associate Palmer are seen in a montage sequence enjoying the many distractions the carnival has to offer. Mention must be made of the great Jane Lapotaire in this episode as well, playing a very convincing fortuneteller. Ms Lapotaire, whose brilliant stage career, which included winning a Tony award on Broadway for her definitive portrayal of singer Edith Piaf, suffered a cerebral haemorrhage in 2000 and has slowly made her way back into acting. She is as riveting here as she ever was.

“Ghost Train” also includes some outstanding stunt work.

All four episodes (episode two is called “Siren” and features Vincent Reagan) are worthy additions to the TRIAL & RETRIBUTION legacy, with episode four in particular being a real nail-biter. If there is room for any criticism about this series at all it is perhaps the over-reliance on making a character secretly gay as a major plot point. This has been used to excess on TRIAL & RETRIBUTION (and other shows) and runs the danger of appearing as much as a political statement as a plot point. When audiences start guessing such “twists” correctly, it’s time to move on to something else.

Perhaps then it is fitting that TRIAL & RETRIBUTION end here. Always engrossing, sometimes brilliant, occasionally frustrating, to end now means leaving the viewer wanting more, and that is never a bad thing.

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