Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Detective > Crime > Literature > British TV > Fantasy > Action > Magic > Battles > Teens > Spy > Action > 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 Six

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…



We start with Above Suspicion 2 (2011) which simply continues the original set of telefilm police procedural telefilms we covered at this link:




The teaming 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.


The only 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 next episodes.


Extras include a Photo Gallery, 10 minutes Behind-The-Scenes featurette and 20 minutes interview featurette.



I am 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 show.


The CGI 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 nicely.


Extras 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:












This was 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.


The 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 extra.



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? 


The last 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.


Extras include a Gag Reel, Unaired Scenes, a Series Retrospective, A Big Farewell To Our Upper East Siders featurette and downloadable It Had To Be You prequel.



Finally 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.

I liked 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.


Original Broadcast Promos and an Episode Recap are the only extras.



The 1080p 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.


The 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.



As noted above, you can order the import DVD set of The Equalizer exclusively from Umbrella at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com