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Category:    Home > Reviews > Crime > Murder > Mystery > Detective > Police Procedual > British TV > Mini Series > Murder Investigation Team: Series Two (2004/Acorn DVD Set)/Out (1978/Acorn DVD set)/Single-Handed: Set Two (2008 – 2009/Acorn DVD Set)/The Killing: The Complete First Season (2011/Fox Blu-ray)

Murder Investigation Team: Series Two (2004/Acorn DVD Set)/Out (1978/Acorn DVD set)/Single-Handed: Set Two (2008 – 2009/Acorn DVD Set)/The Killing: The Complete First Season (2011/Fox Blu-ray)


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



Here is a round of crime dramas, three of which are newer police procedurals and one of which is a grittier crime mini-series, all of which are looking into.  Especially if you have never heard of them before.



The first of the two we have previously looked at continues with Murder Investigation Team: Series Two (2004) which once played in the U.S. on A&E and was from the creator of the highly successful The Bill, Bill Marquess.  You can read about the basic set up of the show at this link:





The case rightly compares it to CSI and that is valid to some extent, but like the previous debut season, I was only so impressed.  It was not able to break out of its holding pattern, but it at least did not get worse or succumb to the weekly TV grind.  Four telefilm-length episodes are here over two DVDs and for its time, it seems to be a formidable British TV crime production that has not dated too badly.  Anthony Head (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the classic Taster’s Choice U.S./Nescafe U.K. ad campaign) even shows up for an episode.  Extras include text character profiles and 12 minutes on-camera interview with Co-star Michael McKell and Producer Johnathan Young.



Much grittier, more violent and politically incorrect is Out (1978), which is not about anyone who is gay or anything to do with homosexuality, but a rough mini-series about a man (Tom Bell) getting out of jail after eight years for a group robbery in which he took the brunt of the blame and now he wants revenge.  From the Euston Studios, known for their groundbreaking crime drama The Sweeney (see our Blu-ray review for Regan, the show’s pilot elsewhere on this site), it is in the same style and even by today’s standards is graphic and would still have to be edited for regular U.S. broadcast prime time TV showings.


Totally shot on film, this runs six hour-long episodes and Bell is more than able to carry the series, makes his angry Frank Ross more than formidable and the supporting cast is terrific.  As a bonus, we get Brian Cox (Michael Mann’s Manhunter, Fincher’s Zodiac) as the main villain in a really good early performance where he is unrecognizable at first.  What a great series and wow, does it deserve to be rediscovered.  It is the best of the four here.  Too bad Bell passed on doing a sequel.  Extras include audio commentary tracks on the first and last episodes by Writer Trevor Preston, Director Jim Goddard and Producer Barry Hanson.



The second of the two we have previously looked at is Single-Handed now here in a Set Two (2008 – 2009) collection that takes place in rural Ireland.  You can read about my initial impressions at this link:




Though professionally done, it is also in a holding pattern and I wondered if this could improve considering its locales and people are not used as much, but I was wrong and I was not impressed here either.  Three telefilm-length tales are here on two DVDs and we get no extras.  Too bad, because I see some missed opportunities too, but that is the straight jacket of police procedurals.



Finally we have an American remake of a Finnish police procedural.  The Killing: The Complete First Season (2011) has nothing to do with the classic Stanley Kubrick film of the same title (reviewed on Criterion Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) but about how a young woman was killed, why and how come it is so hard to find out who is responsible.  Mireille Enos is the divorced single mother who also happens to be a police detective who lands up taking on the case and gets a new partner in a young, somewhat streetwise cop (Joel Kinnaman) through the 16 hour-long shows that Writer/Producer Veena Sud wants to make as much a character study as a crime show.


To some extent, she does succeed, but as interesting as it is it still runs into too many familiar conventions of the genre and there are more than a few instances where it is like we have been there before.  From Silence Of The Lambs to yet another 24-style terrorist plot, those are low points, but what makes this more watchable than expected are the actors, the makers’ efforts and the fine use of Seattle (even when they are not shooting there) as a locale is a winner.  By the end, I was actually looking forward to the next season, so we’ll see how long they can keep this one going.


Extras include a Gag Reel, interesting Deleted Scenes, extended version of the closing episode, featurette An Autopsy Of The Killing and two audio commentary tracks: Miss Sud does a solid commentary on the pilot show and Miss Enos is joined by Writer Nicole Yorkin on the last show in its extended form.


The 1.33 X 1 on Out was shot on 16mm film and it can be soft like the transfers on the out-of-print BCI Sweeney – Season One DVD set (hopefully hitting Blu-ray soon, along with this show), but there is also print damage here and there.  Still, this was shot by no less than Phil Meheux, B.S.C., who has lensed two Bond films among his better work.  He was that good then too.  The 1.78 X 1 anamorphically enhanced image on the remaining DVD sets are as before, soft on Handed and even softer on Investigation.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 AVC @ 24 MBPS digital High Definition image transfers on all 16 episodes of Killing were shot on Super 35mm film and despite some stylizing, the show is one of the best-looking non-HBO TV productions I have seen in a while and the shots of Seattle (compare to The Parallax View or The Night Strangler).


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Killing is as much of a surprise as its image with well-recorded dialogue and sound effects, plus location recording is top rate and all the episodes have impressively consistent soundfields.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound on the DVD sets are good, including the Mono on Out for its age, with the other two in Stereo.  Handed actually has some healthy Pro Logic-type surrounds, which helps make it more watchable.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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