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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Telefilm > Drama > Murder > Detective > British > Legal > Scandal > Lawsuit > Police Procedural > Hi > The Best Of Foyle’s War (Acorn Media DVDs)/Damages: The Complete Fourth Season (2011/Sony DVD)/Law & Order: Criminal Intent – The Seventh Year ’08 – ’09 Season (Universal/Shout! Factory DVDs)/Love In

The Best Of Foyle’s War (Acorn Media DVDs)/Damages: The Complete Fourth Season (2011/Sony DVD)/Law & Order: Criminal Intent – The Seventh Year ’08 – ’09 Season (Universal/Shout! Factory DVDs)/Love In A Cold Climate (1980/Acorn DVDs)


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



And now for a new cycle of drama DVD sets…



The Best Of Foyle’s War is comes with the tag at the top of the cover “Michael Kitchen’s Favorite Episodes” and is a mix of the better shows, even if it is not all five sets of the show we reviewed completely.  You can read about all five of them by going to this link and looking up our four reviews covering their DVD release:




Over 6 DVDs in this set, we get the following telefilms: The German Woman, Eagle Day, Fifty Ships, Among The Few, The French Drop and Bad Blood.  This is one of those series that you only start remembering the story if you have seen it before once you start watching and some shows are better than others.  If you only want to sample the show, this is your best bet, or you can see our coverage and try one of the more recommended sets.  You could also wait and see if this comes to Blu-ray, which is a possibility, but Kitchen is a good actor.  Some would complain about this kind of set as a kind of “double dip” of sorts or unnecessary release, but these types of releases do get fans more interested.


Extras include Cast Reflections, Historical Background, Photo Gallery, 24 minutes making of featurette and two interview segments with Creator Anthony Horowitz (23 minutes) and Anthony Howell/Honeysuckle Weeks (14 minutes)



Adding to her recent triumph in Albert Nobbs (reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), Glenn Close is back in Damages: The Complete Fourth Season (2011) with a continuation of the shows general arc and a new set of twists.  For those unfamiliar with Sony TV’s quality hit, try these links:


One Blu-ray



Three DVD



This time, super-lawyer Patty Hewes (Close) is up to something odd in assisting former colleague Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), it seems like a step up until the situation becomes too insane.  A young boy from another country is missing and kidnapped, with a bizarre and possibly dangerous, powerful businessman (John Goodman, who left Treme for this season of this show) using his respectability to possibly cover up the situation that also involves the U.S. Military, kidnapping, soldiers, murder and mass murder.


The child-in-jeopardy side of this is no plus, but the acting (which also includes Dylan Baker as an angry mercenary and Chris Messina as a good solider involved in the mess) is well written, acted, directed and handled.  Unfortunately, this becomes too uneven, as every good scene or two is held back by something predictable or awkward, resulting in a season equal to the last, but no match for the debut.


We get 10 episodes across the 3 DVDs and you could start watching here, but we would recommend you start with the first season and work your way forward for best impact.  Extras include Deleted Scenes of interest, Outtakes and two featurettes: A Case For War: The Cast & Crew Discuss The Fourth Season and The Evolution Of Patty Hewes.



Like CSI, the Law & Order franchise has been overly spun off as their respective networks look for something to get viewers in the face of cheap, tired, degrading “reality TV” and Law & Order: Criminal Intent – The Seventh Year ’08 – ’09 Season marks the first time we have reviewed this version of the show.  So generic down to the same credits and same, tired, silly “echo boom, echo boom” notes that even turned up in a U.K. version!


The easiest way to identify this one is that it is “the one with Full Metal Jacket star Vincent D’Onofrio in it” which is one of the only reasons it has lasted as long as it has.  Backed here by Chris Noth, Julianne Nicholson, Eric Bogosian and Chris Noth, we get 22 episodes of non-stop (wow…, oh boy…) police procedural storytelling that reminds us of “what a tough world we live in” even when it does not seem realistic itself.  It is still a good, professionally, coherently made show, which in itself is an achievement in a sea of bad TV today, but it does not exceed its genre in the least.


For fans only, this set has no extras.



Finally we have the oldest of the shows in Love In A Cold Climate (1980), a British TV mini-series based on the Nancy Milford book about growing up in a privileged family before WWII and how that war changed the country forever.  Well cast, the standout is the actress who became an international star, Dame Judi Dench, but the writing is fine, actors top notch (including Michael Aldridge, Vivian Pickles, Lucy Gutteridge, Rosalyn Landor, Michael Williams, John Moffat, Christopher Scholar, future star Anthony Head, Adrienne Corri and Jean Pierre Cassel) and the result is more than a match for the 2001 BBC version made later.


Of course, we have seen this as a theme in hundreds of stories of the country in this transition, but this one is from the tail end of the last Golden Age of British TV and it holds up surprisingly well despite some of its minor flaws and age.  Sadly, there are no extras.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on War, Intent and Damages are all softer than I would have liked and even with each other, but Damages has a very, very slight edge in its slightly unique styling and look if not much.  I was surprised they were all detail-challenged and none had standout (for low def DVD) qualities, but all could eventually hit Blu-ray.  The 1.33 X 1 image on Climate is a mix of analog PAL videotape for indoor stage shots and 16mm film for outdoor shots, film of which was transferred then and looks weaker than it should, with a combination that is the softest and weakest on the list.  The DVD case even has a disclaimer about quality issues, but this comes from the old Thames catalog and it is nice to see it, flaws and all.


The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on War, Intent and Damages are all well recorded, but only Damages has a consistent soundfield that justifies a 5.1 mix, while the others could have done almost as well with simple stereo presentations due to their lack of soundfields.  That leaves the weakest sound being the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Climate sounding a bit rough, aged and distorted, even in ways it really should not for a U.K. TV production from 1980.  However, that is the way it survives for now, so be careful of playback levels and volume switching.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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