Trial & Retribution – Set 4 (Acorn Media DVD)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: D Telefilms:
Paradise Lost: A
Curriculum Vitae: A-
Mirror Image: B
of Trial & Retribution, a new
collection of episodes is a welcome event. Ever since reviewing Set 3 here for FulvueDrive-In, I have
become a fan and gone back and watched the two previous sets. I must say
in most aspects Trial & Retribution
has improved over the years.
uninitiated, each episode of T & R
is a feature length film, shown originally over two nights on the telly.
They are produced and penned by Lynda LaPlante of Prime Suspect fame and they have many of the successful earmarks of
that highly successful series. Each film roughly divides into the
criminal investigation and judicial processing of a particular case, though
over the years the format has loosened a bit. David Hayman, who
plays DCI Walker, can be a bit of an acquired taste, though the years have
toned down some of his pyrotechnical outbursts. He is nicely paired with
partner Roisin Connor (Victoria Smufit), whose flawed police personality puts
her toe-to-toe with Walker, providing a nice contrast with Walker’s former
partner, DCI Pat North (who was also excellent).
films in this set, "Paradise Lost,"
"Curriculum Vitae," and
"Mirror Image," highlight
the show in its prime.
“Paradise Lost” is one of the stronger films in
the series; the emphasis here is primarily on story and it is a powerful
one. Race is the central issue. A black man is targeting white
women who are dating black men. The whodunit aspect of the story takes
more of center stage than in other episodes, reflected in the fact that the
trial part is given much shorter shrift than usual. Ironically, the
shorter trial segment turns out to be much more dramatic than usually lengthier
affairs. Though there are some interesting developments
character-wise, including Roisin’s hard edged approach taking a nasty turn when
she targets the wrong man and when she is scapegoated during the trial by the
barrister she is dating, story still predominates. Walker unexpectedly bonds with the wrongly
accused suspect, Clinton Jones, adding a welcome extra-dimension to the tough
as nails DCS. There is a nice healthy balance here and the acting and writing
“Curriculum Vitae” tells the story of a
sociopathic nanny, Rachel Burns, who under different pseudonyms was responsible
for the deaths of at least two young children. Sinead Matthews, who plays
Burns, is chillingly spot-on, so casual in her manner as to cause the viewer to
question what appears to have, and has actually, happened. Even after it
is long obvious she is a child murderer, her slightly off-kilter charm
continues to hypnotize. Suzy MacDonald, the latest victim’s mother, also
gives an excellent turn, with Walker and Roisin, as well as DS David
Satchell (Dorian Lough), in prime form. In particular, Roisin’s cold
exterior begins to crack ever so slightly in a nicely modulated performance.
“Mirror Image” is so boldly borrowed from
the headlines it is based on, in this instance the Menendez Brothers case, that
the real life case is actually mentioned a few times in passing. Once
again, the casting of the guest roles is quite fine; a great deal of weight is
taken off the regular cast as a result. The working out of the
crime in this episode, in which the brothers conspire to kill their abusive
parents, is a bit pat. Occasionally over the years in this series, the
element of mystery is missing since that isn’t the primary point and this is a
good example. After the first 45 minutes, the resolution is pretty
obvious. Still, the characters of the two brothers are fascinating to
watch in their eerie symbiotic relationship and the young actors (Robert and
Jonathan Timmons) who portray them do an outstanding job.
are a Trial and Resolution fan, this
is a must-see collection. It compares positively with heavy weights of
the genre, including LaPlante’s own Prime
Suspect and Wire In The Blood.
Watch this and it is guaranteed you will be heading back for Sets 1 through 3, all reviewed elsewhere on this site.
be well worth your time.
- Don Wentworth