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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Detective > Drama > Murder > Telefilm > British TV > Father Dowling Mysteries: The Second Season (1990/CBS DVD)/George Gently: Series Four (2011)/MidSomer Murders: Set 20 (2010/Acorn Blu-ray + DVD Sets)

Father Dowling Mysteries: The Second Season (1990/CBS DVD)/George Gently: Series Four (2011)/MidSomer Murders: Set 20 (2010/Acorn Blu-ray + DVD Sets)


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



Here is another set of detective TV shows for fans, including more diehard fans that usual.



Tom Bosley finally returned in Father Dowling Mysteries: The Second Season (1990) though this was only after a start in 1987 that led to an official first season taking three years as this link to the debut DVD set will show:





In that, we only have 13 hour-long shows so it is not as long as classic detective show season would be and more like the much shorter seasons of most shows we get now (though I would not blame Moonlighting, for instance).  This is more of the same fuddy-duddy TV, but I can say that at least the show found its way to fix upon what it wanted to be and the actors found their calling (pun intended) in how to play their respective roles here.


Still the show has some unintentionally amusing moments, but they only keep the viewer awake more than amused.  Start with the original season before moving on to this set if you are interested.  Fans will go out and get it now.  Episodic promo clips are the only extra.



In speaking of short, George Gently: Series Four (2011) only consists of two telefilms!!!  They are Goodbye China and Gently Upside Down.  Though this is consistent with the quality of the previous sets, this is obviously not as full as previous seasons, including the Third which we covered at this link:




You can read more from there on the whole show to date.  Martin Shaw is still good, but maybe they should have at least made one more telefilm.  I just think this is a bit much too little.  A 13-minutes-long Behind The Scenes featurette is the only extra.



Finally we have MidSomer Murders: Set 20 (2010) which is four telefilms long, but the same old formulaic series, except that this time, the long-running character of  Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) is here for his last cases (yeee) soon to be totally succeeded by his cousin John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon), so talk about a long goodbye!


This is not the first MidSomer Blu-ray, as this link (which goes to the rest of the series) will show:




Fans will enjoy this, but if you are just starting to watch all this, you’ll be more and likely to wonder what the big deal is.  The mysteries this time are: Master Class, The Noble Art, Not In My Back Yard and Fit For Murder.  They are written and made with some energy, but the show is just so played out, you can see why its lead finally called it quits.  We are amazed he stayed in that long.


Extras include a Barnaby Through The Years photo gallery and Saying Goodbye To Barnaby essay consisting of two frames of small text.



The 1.33 X 1 color image on Dowling is as soft, weak and noisy as the previous set, though shot on film (likely 35mm), these are older professional analog masters and could look much better, especially if a Blu-ray ever rolled around.  The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image the two Blu-rays sets should be the best here and better than there anamorphically enhanced DVD counterparts overall, but that is not the case.  The Gently Blu and MidSomer DVDs have unexpected pixelization issues I have rarely seen on any Acorn releases in either format, while the Gently DVDs are just very soft, meaning the DVDs are all about equal despite how much older and problematic Dowling is.  That leaves the MidSomer Blu-rays the visual champs by default.


The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Dowling is a little better than it image as was the case last time, but it is simple and can show its age a little bit.  Both Blu-rays are listed as having PCM 2.0 Stereo tracks, but MidSomer actually has DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo mixes which sounds no better than the Gently PCM and both are also warm and have nice Pro Logic surrounds if you have a home theater system and want to try them out.


However, I am surprised no 5.1 option exists and the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mixes on Gently and Dowling are not only not as good as the lossless Blu-ray options, but weaker than expected.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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