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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Creature > Supernatural > Demon > Drama > Police > Crime > Detective > British TV > Thrille > The Fades: Season One (2011/BBC Blu-ray)/George Gently: Series One (2007 – 8/Acorn Blu-rays)/MidSomer Murders: Set 19 (2009/Acorn Blu-rays)/Mission: Impossible: The ’89 TV Season (CBS DVD)/Poirot Seri

The Fades: Season One (2011/BBC Blu-ray)/George Gently: Series One (2007 – 8/Acorn Blu-rays)/MidSomer Murders: Set 19 (2009/Acorn Blu-rays)/Mission: Impossible: The ’89 TV Season (CBS DVD)/Poirot Series 1 (1989) + Series 2 (1990/Acorn Blu-ray Sets)


Picture: B-/B-/B-/C/B/B     Sound: B/B/B-/C+/C+/C+     Extras: C/C-/C-/C-/D/D     Episodes: C+/B-/C/C/B-/B-



Here comes several TV franchises, including some that work and several now available looking and sounds better than ever as Acorn Media digs in and really gives us the Blu-ray sets.



However, we start with a new BBC series, a supernatural Walking Dead-like show called The Fades: Season One (2011) which wants to add a few twists on the coming of its zombie-like creatures by having them come from an alternate world and it also wants to go out of its way to get fanboys on board by having a young man (Iain De Caestecker) be the only one who can see the whole picture (he has an African Englander friend badly written as almost stereotypically annoying who also wants to make a film) and their silliness is the reason they trip over ominous problems to come.  All I could think about as I watched the episodes here is how much better Neil Gaiman’s work doing the same thing is.  They should have left this as a mini-series because I cannot imagine how they are going to keep this one going.  The visual effects are lame too.  Extras include Extras Scenes, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Interviews and Mac Explains clip.



Though Acorn already gave us Series Three on Blu-ray, we now get George Gently: Series One (2007 – 8) which we already reviewed in its DVD set at this link:




The show is a hit, thanks in no small part to Martin Shaw (Judge John Deed, The Professionals) carrying the show and fitting the title role well.  This set has the same extras as the DVD version and the same playback performance as the other Blu-ray set.  If you are interested in the show, start with this set.



It amazes me to believe that we now have MidSomer Murders: Set 19 (2009) and this time, finally, we have a Blu-ray edition.  Somehow, we managed to cover almost every single previous set, as this link will show:




This new double Blu-ray set has four more episodes: The Made To Measure Murders, The Sword Of Guillaume, Blood On The Saddle and The Silent Land.  The show is formulaic beyond belief at this point and then some, begging the question… why do people move there if people keep getting murdered there?  Is it dropping real estate values?  Could this be the cheapest nicer neighborhood in all of Britain?  Will they run out of people soon if the show goes on any further?  At least the locales have not looked this good before, give or take the older shows being filmed.  Extras include a behind-the-scenes photo gallery for the Blood On The Saddle episode.



Our only U.S. entry was actually shot in Australia and is the only DVD set here and it is Mission: Impossible: The ’89 TV Season, which is also the last TV season of the show in any form.  You can read about the first of the two new seasons at this link:




I had not seen these shows in a long time and I can see how the show was struggling to stay afloat in the face of the writer’s strike and the energy started to wane here as well.  At least the show did not totally succumb to being fuddy duddy television, but the last 16 hour long shows here over 4 DVDs just slowly unravel and implode.  Too bad, because the later Tom Cruise feature films proved the show was revivable and I know Paramount tried for years to find a way to bring it back reportedly as early as the late 1970s.  At least Peter Graves stayed in there all the way.  We get a few extra clips, including promos for select episodes and a holiday greetings promo.



Last but not least, the big surprise is the release of Poirot Series 1 (1989) + Series 2 (1990) with David Suchet as Agatha Christie’s legendary detective.  Though not my favorite version of the detective, Suchet is the longest running actor to play him and I am just not a fan of his toning down the joy, energy and eccentricity of the character.  With that said, the show is now being reissued on Blu-ray, but instead of the many varied sets we have seen before, these will be in the original U.K. Broadcast Order.


For the record, here are the episodes for each set:


Series 1

1) The Adventures Of The Clapham Cook (1951 Christie short story)

2) Murder In The Mews (1937 Christie short story)

3) The Adventures Of Johnny Waverly (1950 Christie short story)

4) Four & Twenty Blackbirds (1950 Christie short story)

5) The Third Floor Flat (1949 short story)

6) Triangle At Rhodes (1938 short story)

7) Problem At Sea (1939 Christie short story)

8) The Incredible Theft (David Reid & Clive Exton original [?])

9) The King Of Clubs (1951 Christie short story)

10) The Dream (1960 Christie short story)

11) The Incredible Theft (David Reid & Clive Exton original [?])


Series 2
1) Peril At End House (1932)

2) The Veiled Lady (1924 Christie short story)

3) The Lost Mine (1924 Christie short story)

4) The Cornish Mystery (1951 Christie short story)

5) The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim (1924 Christie short story)

6) Double Sin (1929 Christie short story)

7) The Adventure Of The Cheap Flat (1924 Christie short story)

8) The Kidnapped Prime Minister (1924 Christie short story)

9) The Adventure Of The Western Star (1924 Christie short story)


Acorn has issued so many Poirot DVD sets and singles that overlap was inevitable, concluding with Classic Collection sets.  These upgrades have no extras, but the picture quality is amazing, but more on that in a minute.



The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Fades, Gently and MidSomer are the nest the shows could possibly look, but they are produced in what is becoming an older HD format versus the 2K and 4K cameras that are slowly starting to turn up.  Again, Gently plays best on Blu-ray and MidSomer as almost never looked so good.  The 1.33 X 1 image on Mission is as soft and poor as the previous DVD set with a 35mm shoot finished on analog video.  It needs and deserves the upgrade so many shows made like this should have and Star Trek: The Next Generation (reviewed elsewhere on this site) just did), but those who like the show will want to see it again no matter what.


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image on both Poirot sets have hardly, if any analog tape work (maybe the opening credits show their age) but it was shot on 16mm film and wow is this a nice upgrade from the DVDs.  Detail, depth and particularly color are all improved, but best of all, you can really enjoy what the makers accomplished with the show as for the first time anywhere, you can also see the money on the screen.  They did not play tricks and make dumb shortcuts when they produced the show.  The result is more first class than you would expect and this looks better than the Suchet/Poirot Murder On The Orient Express (reviewed elsewhere on this site) Blu-ray as well.  This new Blu-ray series will make the DVD sets obsolete, as well as proving yet again my belief that the pre-HD TV on Blu-ray is the moist underrated part of the market.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on Fades and PCM 2.0 Stereo mix on Gently have the best sound of all the releases here (you can get good Pro Logic surrounds out of them too), including the PCM 2.0 Stereo on MidSomer, which sounds a little more restricted and quieter despite making its theme song clearer.  Oddly, the Poirot Blu-rays retain their lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo soundtracks, which might sound very narrowly better here than on DVD.  Too bad they could not have upgraded the sound as well.  Mission also has lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that is a bit older, but on par with those sets.


-   Nicholas Sheffo


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