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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Drama > Telefilm > Detective > Cold War > Murder > British TV > Police Preocedural > Politics > Se > Foyle’s War: Set 7 (2013/Acorn Media Blu-rays)/Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection (1991 – 2006/Acorn Media Blu-ray Set)/Scandal: The Complete Second Season (2012 – 2013/Disney/ABC DVD Set)

Foyle’s War: Set 7 (2013/Acorn Media Blu-rays)/Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection (1991 – 2006/Acorn Media Blu-ray Set)/Scandal: The Complete Second Season (2012 – 2013/Disney/ABC DVD Set)


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



Now for our latest dramas of intrigue and mystery, including a classic upgraded and two other shows people keep talking about…



Foyle’s War: Set 7 (2013) does an about face again an now retired DC Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) returns to England form America post-WWII to find himself smack in the middle of The Cold War as he is inadvertently recruited (against his will?) to break a Soviet spy ring in The Eternity Ring, which to date may well be the best episode of the series.  It is also a new turn for the already highly rated show and we also get the similar episodes The Cage and Sunflower.


Like several non-spy shows of the 1960s (The Saint, Burke’s Law becoming Amos Burke – Secret Agent, etc.), it is a move to keep the show current and fresh, even if this one is set 65 years ago, it makes sense and though it makes it more interesting than your garden variety police procedural, it did not overly excite me either.  However, this may be the peak of a show with plenty of seasons left in it and I will add the show has never looked or sounded so good.


Extras include Recaps on all six sets we’ve reviewed elsewhere on this site, Photo Gallery, Introductions by creator/writer Anthony Horowitz and four Behind The Scenes featurettes talking about the show’s move into The Cold War era.



Next we get a nice technical upgrade (save a season) in the new Blu-ray edition of Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection (1991 – 2006) with Helen Mirren in her groundbreaking performance as DI Jane Tennison.  Created by writer Lynda La Plante, we reviewed the DVD version at this link:




Extras are the same, though I wished for something new, but the upgrade is worth it enough for fans and those who have never seen the show that this makes the DVD set dated and obsolete.  You can read specifics about the technical improvements below.



Finally we have Scandal: The Complete Second Season (2012 – 2013), the catty new prime time soap opera created by Shonda Rhymes stars Kerry Washington as the other woman in the life of The President of the United States, but the twists include that the First Lady knows it, the Prez is a white man and Miss Washington is of course, a beautiful African American woman whose beauty exceed racial boundaries.  The set-up alone is a button presser.


As we join in here (we did not cover the debut season, though I had seen it and it was as trashy), the show gives us a world embroiled in politics, but it is in a way where they are not real or palpable any more than they are ultimately important top the story in the long run.  They are incidental to who’s stabbing who in the back and are about nothing, so the show really has nothing to say like the underrated Political Animals and ongoing HBO hit The Newsroom (both reviewed elsewhere on this site), so the show counts on its locales, cast and teleplay twists to work.


This is not great television, but it has enough energy and pace to be very commercially viable and may be a show that really picks up in its third season to be a big soap opera hit, but it will have to do more than the 22 episodes (across 5 DVDs) do here.  If this happens, Miss Washington will become an even bigger name and with some new cast members announced as we post, can the writers make this take off?  We’ll see.  For now, I am vaguely impressed.


Extras include Outtakes, Extended Finale by picking a longer version of the final closing episode of the season, two Behind The Scenes featurettes and Deleted Scenes.




Despite the fact that the first five seasons of Prime Suspect are shot on 35mm film, the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Foyle’s War is sharper than the show has ever been (our first Blu-ray of the show) and one of the best HD shoots of any show to date with nice detail and limited styling.  As for Suspect, all 1080p 1.78 X 1 images are better than their DVD versions, with Season One the best of the transfers, Season Four looking awful at 1.33 X 1 save one section in 1.78 X 1 (how lost the film elements!?!), and Season Two and Season Three on weaker, safer, faster film stocks that backfire.  The last two-HD shot seasons are fine, but not great and Season Five is not as lite as Season Two and Season Three, but could have been better.  The first five seasons on their DVD versions were in 1.33 X 1 framing and purists would have probably preferred it that way, with their wish being granted on Season Four in the worst way.  It might have been nice to include 1.33 X 1 versions for everyone, not just purists, to be able to choose their preference.  This is still much better looking than the DVD set.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Scandal is softer, has some slight stylizing and a mix of shaking cameras and editing that make it the weakest presentation here, though it might look better on Blu-ray.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes on Prime Suspect and Foyle’s War are better than either show has ever sounded with Suspect’s later credits actually noting they have Pro Logic surrounds.  Both are fine in that mode, or in regular stereo where you can hear the improvement in warmth and flow.  The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Scandal episodes can be active, but the soundfield is weak (might be better lossless) and more towards the front channels than I would have liked.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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