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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > Coming Of Age > School > Police Procedural > Mystery > Murder > Crime > TV Movies > Telefil > Ackley Bridge: Series Two (2018*)/Sara Stein - From Berlin to Tel Aviv: The Complete Series (2019/Film Movement DVD Set)/Trial & Retribution: The Complete Collection (1997 - 2008/*both Acorn DVD Sets)

Ackley Bridge: Series Two (2018*)/Sara Stein - From Berlin to Tel Aviv: The Complete Series (2019/Film Movement DVD Set)/Trial & Retribution: The Complete Collection (1997 - 2008/*both Acorn DVD Sets)

Picture: B/C/C Sound: C Extras: D/D/C Main Programs: B+/C+/B-

Now for some more import TV arriving on U.S. DVD...

Not too long ago, we looked at the debut season of the politically conscious drama Ackley Bridge, which you can read about among the TV shows covered here...


Well, welcome back to the second term of Ackley Bridges College, a small town school with an integrated British and Pakistani population. As the school continues to have culture clashes between the students and teachers, they have begun integration, but they still face challenges such as racism, prejudice and hate. As the students struggle to learn, the teachers struggle to keep the school open and their parents who are are involved with the school activities and neighborhood projects in Ackley Bridge: Series Two (2018).

Ackley Bridge is story about the school, it's teachers, students and parents where there is constant drama between the right wing conservatives and the liberals, between the British and Pakistani, but school is tough enough on top of racism, genius Pakistani girl Nasreen hides that she is a lesbian and her best friend/next-door-neighbor Missy the tough/street smart girl (who is also failing in school) along with their friends and family who are considered to be living in the 'ghetto'. Along with the various teachers and the principal, Ackley Bridges is considered a poor and failing school for low scoring students and in financial danger of closing. The parents and teachers mean well and try to teach the students to study, work hard and become respectable. But the adults however are poor examples themselves of being 'respectable', they have sex behind closed doors and scandalous affairs.

In this season, Nasreen has a sham engagement to hide her lesbianism but then discovers her father has second family in the next town and suddenly calls off her engagement and decides to come out. Missy has to deal with her junky mom and raising her sister and ends up getting knocked up by Nasreen's half brother. Emma the English teacher continues her affair with a married man. Mandy the school principal manages to piss off both students and teachers with her new school policies, but luckily she seems more like a saint when compared to the new deputy assistant principal. Meanwhile the school's biggest trouble makers are Jordan, is the future gangster wannabe/drug dealer and his brother Cory is the school male gigolo, both of them are dealing with their abusive father, unfortunately not very positively.

This series was like a never ending school drama, school is tough enough with all the studying, bullies, and dealing with parents and teachers, but then imagine a school where half the school thinks they are better than the other half treating them like terrorists and the other half hates them for stereotyping them, the school seems constantly on the verge of a racist war. The series also deals with modern issues such as high school drop outs, parenting, teen pregnancy, drugs, sex and other social dramas. From time to time characters breaks the 4th wall and address the audience directly or plays a narrator giving more insight to the characters and story.

There are no extras.

The last two releases are police procedurals. First we have Sara Stein - From Berlin to Tel Aviv: The Complete Series (2019) and the reason for the long title is that this is actually the second series of cases by the Israeli detective played by Katharina Lorenz, who did a set of her first cases back in 2016 that we'll have to catch up to later. Politically charged and a nice change of pace location wise, we get four telefilms in which she must solve the murders of a DJ, inspector, archeologist and a human rights activist.

Though we get nothing too original here, these are not bad mysteries, but they were only so good, as the teleplays invite us to get more emotionally involved due to the politics or situations that you usually don't see in the U.S. equivalent much. The locations are a plus and Lorenz is good in the role, able to carry the show well, but the overall result is mixed in each TV movie and I wanted it to go even further, but it plays it a bit safe in certain ways per the subgenre. Still, those who want something more out of such television will want to try this one out themselves to see if they like it as much or more. It is at least not boring.

No extras.

Finally we have a show we looked at the early seasons of years ago, Trial & Retribution: The Complete Collection (1997 - 2008) which is a very successful police procedural created by no less than Lynda La Plante (Prime Suspect, Widows) and here's what we said about the first few seasons...









The best way to describe the show is if something as flat as Law & Order played like Barry Levinson's Homicide series, with some of that intensity. The last eight cases are the ones we never got to cover and they are in line with the rest of the series, which goes form having good shows to ones that do not necessarily work. The style of cutting the screen up into smaller images became a hallmark of the show it retained to the end. They found more cases to bring to life with some good actors and situations, then quit while they were ahead. Now you can see with the entire set of shows in one place for the first time. Not bad, if not classic.

Extras include a behind-the-scenes documentary with cast and crew interviews (46 min.); interviews with Lynda La Plante, David Hayman, Victoria Smurfit and Colin Salmon (41 min.); Set 6 behind-the-scenes footage (32 min.) and a few other bits.

The 1.33 X 1 image transfer on the first Trial can show the age of the analog video, but the show still has aliasing errors and other image flaws when it goes widescreen, here in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 framing. There is also noise up to the last shows, so looks like the whole series was standard definition and could use some work, especially if they consider upscaling the entire series for Blu-ray like BBC just did for some of the Tom Baker Doctor Who seasons.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Ackley looks best, as good as it can in the DVD format, while the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 on Sara Stein may be a newer production, but it also is somehow softer than it should be beyond any styling with some aliasing errors and limits a new show should not have.

All three shows shockingly only offer lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that lack any kind of surround activity, are on the weak side and disappoint, with some dialogue even difficult to make out. Why none of these are 5.1 is a big mystery we'll never solve, but they are all on the flat side, so be careful of volume switching and high playback levels.

- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Bridge)


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