Above Suspicion 2 (2011/Acorn DVD)/Adventures Of
Merlin: Season Four (2012/BBC Blu-rays)/The Equalizer: Series Three (1987 – 1988/Universal/Umbrella PAL
Region Free DVDs)/Gossip Girl: The
Complete Sixth & Final Season (2012/Warner DVDs)/Testimony Of Two Men (1977/Universal/Acorn DVDs)
Picture: C+/B-/C+/C+/C Sound: C+/B-/C+/C+/C+ Extras: C+/C+/C-/C-/C- Episodes: B-/C+/B-/D/C+
PLEASE NOTE: The Equalizer DVD set can only be operated on machines capable of
playing back DVDs that can handle Region Free PAL format software and can be
ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address
provided at the end of the review.
Here is a
look at some new TV season releases…
with Above Suspicion 2 (2011) which
simply continues the original set of telefilm police procedural telefilms we
covered at this link:
of Ciaran Hinds and Kelly Reilly worked well enough for audiences along with
the writing of Prime Suspect creator
Lynda La Plante that audiences stuck with it, wanted more and got it. In this case, instead of three different
episodic shows, we get one mystery in three episodes, which I think makes more
sense and is as good as anything on the list.
thing is, though I was intrigued while watching it all, it did not stay with me
any more than the first set despite being as intelligent and effective. I guess the glut of these shows is not
helping, but you do not have to have seen the original shows to get the most
out of this story arc, though it would not hurt. We’ll see what happens when they get to the
include a Photo Gallery, 10 minutes Behind-The-Scenes featurette and 20 minutes
surprised that The Adventures Of Merlin:
Season Four (2012) has become such a hit for the BBC and that they could
take the Merlin myth and spin it into a show that has lasted so long. It has been a while since we looked at the
show, but here is our coverage of the first two seasons:
We get 13
episodes and they are pretty much in line with what we have seen before, but
this is the first time we have seen the show in high definition, so does that
make a difference? For someone like
myself who is not a fan of Fantasy genre shows, yes it makes one because it
takes so much to suspend disbelief for such a show and being able to see it
with more detail, color and clarity makes it easier to suspend disbelief. You can also see more of the money the BBC is
putting into the show and that makes Blu-ray the only way to really see the
effects are the least impressive thing about it all, while the cast has some
chemistry and by this time, those with the show for a while have settled in
include a Making Of featurette, Outtakes, Storyboards, Deleted Scenes, Superfan
Photo Gallery and Cast/Crew Audio Commentaries.
The Equalizer: Series Three (1987 – 1988) is the one season
of the Edward Woodward hit series we had not covered, but the show is out in
all four seasons in the U.S.
and Australia. Here is our coverage to the other seasons:
the season Mr. Woodward started to have health issues, so he had to allow his
character to be kidnapped (Robert Mitchum was hired to play an old friend who
could help out in what also looked like a potential spin-off idea that never
happened) and Richard Jordan (Logan’s
Run) became an assistant who was once a killer hired to kill McCall.
Unlike Callan, Woodward’s other great spy
series (reviewed elsewhere on this site), the episodic nature of this show
started to wear it down and when Woodward returned, the show was starting to
lose its edge. I enjoyed the opening
two-parter where a priest played by Telly Savalas was being tormented by a
terrorist played by William Atherton (Die
Hard) and we get a Christmas episode about a child with AIDS being
threatened that is more in line with how daring the show could be. However, Woodward was getting tired as
indicated by his not yelling enough at enough people.
McCall flip-outs are one the reasons to tune in. We see some other familiar faces including a
young boys who gets kidnapped played by a then unknown Macaulay Culkin, whose
name is only in the end credits. There
are three two-parters altogether, Tobe Hooper directs the No Place Like Home episode and the writers try to deal with more of
McCall’s secret past, but the developments here start to strain
credibility. Still, it is not a bad
season and worth a look with 22 hour-long episodes over 6 DVDs. A brief Stills Gallery is sadly the only
Reaching Gossip Girl: The Complete Sixth & Final
Season (2012) seemed to take forever and I am surprised the show lasted as
long as it did, but Warner Bros. stuck with it and its fan base, but the show
never improved for me, was sometimes an unintentional howler and always
eventually boring and unbelievable at the same time. Will Gossip Girl get busted and caught
finally? Will people stop taking gossip
on the Internet seriously? Can anyone
get a life?
10 shows are here over 3 DVDs and at least the studio never cut corners
financially, but the cast tends to always talk at each other and I never bought
any of this at any point. Whether this
will be remembered in 30 or 50 years from now is interesting enough, but I
think it will be a footnote at best, though I understand this is aimed at a
mostly female audience. That did not
make me reconsider it any anyhow, but I guess they quit while they were ahead,
if they ever were.
include a Gag Reel, Unaired Scenes, a Series Retrospective, A Big Farewell To Our Upper East Siders
featurette and downloadable It Had To Be
we have more vintage Universal TV in Testimony
Of Two Men (1977), a syndicated TV mini-series drama about the U.S. Civil
War that boasts a fine cast that includes Tom Bosley (who tends to narrate the
episodes (3 telefilm-length ones on three DVDs), joined by Ralph Bellamy,
William Shatner, David Birney, Barbara Parkins, Steve Forrest, Joan Van Ark,
Theodore Bikel, Barry Brown, J.D. Cannon, Dan Dailey, Leonard Frey, David
Huffman, Randolph Mantooth, Ray Milland, Cameron Mitchell, Trisha Noble,
Kathleen Nolan, Margaret O’Brien, Laurie Prange, Inga Swenson (Soap, Benson),
and Linda Purl.
some of the scenes and seeing some of these actors in little-seen work is a
plus, but the Civil War is treated too lightly and despite some money being spent
on the production, we get too many moments where things are described and not
shown too often (not unlike, oddly, the horrid 1998 Godzilla remake) so the series can be hit and miss. The plot about improving medical practices
has its moments, but back then, we assumed everything was fixed, fixable and
would get better. Now we have a health
care debate and people who are literally dying because they do not have
affordable health care. This was an
optimistic mini-series indeed.
Broadcast Promos and an Episode Recap are the only extras.
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Merlin
is easily the best-looking of the releases on the list with good color, depth
and detail, though some of the CG can look underwhelming. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on
Suspicion and Gossip are softer and not badly shot, but nothing to write home
about and are equaled enough by the sometimes mixed 35mm transfers on the 1.33
X 1 PAL Equalizer DVDs which can
look dark and worn in some instances and fine in others. With a disclaimer that the sources might be
rough, the 1.33 X 1 image on Testimony is the softest of all throughout, coming
from older analog masters despite the show being shot on 35mm film. Hope Universal can find the film masters so a
Blu-ray could one day be made.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on Merlin is also the best-sounding of the releases here, sounding
fine on their own or with Pro Logic decoding.
Mixing and recording is not bad, though not exactly state of the art,
but professionally recorded and consistent.
The lossy Dolby Digital mixes on the DVDs are even with each other from
the 2.0 Mono on Testimony, to the
2.0 Stereo on Equalizer and Suspicion to the reserved 5.1 on Gossip.
Anything more in those cases would have been a surprise.
above, you can order the import DVD set of The
Equalizer exclusively from Umbrella at: