(2019/Well Go Blu-ray)/The
Murders: Season 1
(2019*)/Playing For Keeps:
Season 2 (2019*)/Prince
Of The City
(1981/Orion/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/S.W.A.T.:
Season Four (revival/2020
- 2021/Sony DVD)/Total
Control: Season 1
(2019/*all Acorn DVDs)
C/C/B-/C+/C/B/C+/C+ Sound: C/C/B-/C/C/B-/C+/C Extras:
D/D/C-/C-/D/C/C-/D Main Programs: C+/C+/C/C/C/A-/C/C+
Of The City
Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner
Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.
up are a bunch of police procedurals, a classic police crime epic and
for good measure, a sports drama...
up is Backstrom: Series 1
(2020) based on the books of Leif G.W. Persson, with Kjell Bergqvist
as yet another exceptionally gifted and observant detective who can
solve crimes and murders better than anyone around. In this case, he
also shows up on TV showing his prowess, but that gets interrupted by
a dead body showing up when a patch of snow and ice defrost. He
traces it to (no pun intended) a 2004 cold case, but others are not
Swedish TV production runs 6 episodes to tell the whole story and
though it does have a few interesting moments, it gets dragged out
just a little too much for my tastes and the lead and other actors
are not bad. Just not enough to overcome the mixed writing.
are no extras.
(2020) brings back James Nesbitt (The
Hobbit and Waking
Ned Devine actor whose TV
successes include Murphy's
Law and Midnight
Man) as Tom Brannick, a
veteran detective in Northern Ireland who lost his wife mysteriously
20 years ago. When a dead body is pulled form the water, he sees a
connection with it and her, so starts to investigate with a special
interest in the matter.
shot and with some good moments, its the kind of mini-series (4
episodes here) that start out good and with some promise and good
moments, then get a little lost and start to drag. He is good and
his supporting cast is not bad, but I was slightly disappointed by
the results. Otherwise, those curious will want to have a look and
there are more episodes ahead.
are no extras.
Lee's The Fatal Raid
(2019) is a Chinese-produced crime thriller that starts 20 years
before with a failed mission, then new events bring that old affair
up and revenge is up for grabs. With plenty of gunfire and martial
arts, Patrick Tam leads the cast in a so-so 92-minutes-long romp that
is much of what we have seen before.
just seen too much of this before and this tries to add all kinds of
style to make it seem different, but to no avail. Thus, it is for
hardcore fans of the genre only, though it felt like it was slacking
Theatrical Trailer (for this and some other recent Well Go release)
are the only extras.
Murders: Season 1 (2019)
has Jessica Lewis from TV's Gotham
as the daughter of an official who was killed, becoming a detective
herself. Trying to be a 'good cop' and more, she forgets her gun in
her car, which is promptly stolen, then someone lands up getting
killed by it. Now, a killer is on the loose and seems to be
this started out good, had its share of promise, but then really gets
bogged down by plenty of unnecessary exposition that should have been
time used to develop the plot, mystery and characters, especially
hers. She is likable and the cast is not bad, but this is a long one
with 8 episodes!
include two 3-minutes Behind The Scenes clips, one with that name,
the other entitled Would
For Keeps: Season 2
(2019) is about the wives of soccer players in Australia (but is NOT
connected to the hit Footballer's
Wives) and actually had
some events so ugly end the previous season, it is surprising it is
not a police procedural by now. Instead, it is a melodrama that
focuses on five women, money, power, sex and has more cliches than
you could imagine.
locales are nice, but this one runs a very long, predictable,
obvious, melodramatic and eventually tired eight episodes. If you
must watch it, start with the debut season and don't operate heavy
machinery while its on.
are no extras.
cynicism is a sign of a healthy society and a given society's ability
to deal honestly with its troubles are a big key to its survival.
Sidney Lumet's Prince Of
The City (1981) is one of
the greatest films of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and
part of a long series of police dramas and character examinations of
the people and the system that are unequalled. In the face of often
infantilizing police procedurals on the small and big screen, these
films are as relevant as ever.
of his biggest epics, the underrated Treat Williams plays New York
Detective Danny Ciello, has him as part of a key investigative unit
where loyalty is a must, but when they get lax about these things, he
is asked to find corruption, though he has made some mistakes in this
regard just the same. Then the trouble begins.
167 minutes, it NEVER feels that long, never wastes a moment and has
had a loyal audience over the years (when VHS tapes arrives, it would
get rented like De Palma's Scarface
because you got a longer movie for the same rental price) and in some
ways, is the epic peak of so many Lumet films that had an uncanny
knack for capturing realism like very few filmmakers in cinema
history have. Because he is a journeyman filmmaker and not a
distinctive autuer (think Scorsese) and none of his films have been
rediscovered in a big way lately despite all the hits and classics he
is responsible for, he is not as remembered as he should be.
screening of this gem and you'll know how wrong that is!
is utterly convincing in what is the title role and the supporting
cast is almost unreal in its dead-on effectiveness and chemistry
including Jerry Orbach, Bob Balaban, Lindsay Crouse, James Tolkan,
Lee Richardson, Lance Henriksen, Cynthia Nixon, Lane Smith, Michael
Beckett, Burton Collins and plenty of other character actors you may
have seen somewhere before, but could not name. Even I had problems
naming them all, but like all classics, once the film starts, it just
keeps building up and getting better, better, better, better, richer
and is one of Lumet's tour de force films. That says something.
is one of three big screen adaptations of books based on real true
life stories by Robert Daley (followed by Michael Cimino's Year
Of The Dragon (1985,
reviewed elsewhere on this site and also issued on Blu-ray by Warner
Archive) with a screenplay co-written by Oliver Stone and Lumet's own
Night Falls On Manhattan
(1996)) and begins a sort of unacknowledged trilogy, but these are
films with a mature, adult approach that disappeared in the 1980s in
exchange for infantilized mall movies and other junk. I just wish
the extra footage that appeared on a TV broadcast of this film was in
the extras section. Otherwise, this is one of the best back catalog
releases of the year and is strongly recommended!!!
include an Original Theatrical Trailer Bloopers and vintage Making Of
featurette Prince Of The City: The Real Story.
Season Four (2020 - 2021)
continues the revival of the 1970s hit series that has somehow lasted
longer and picks up with the events of the previous season as covered
in our review at this link:
have included the pandemic, but it is a cynical and even robotic
rehash of the old show that only the presence of Shemar Moore can
save it from, but even he can only do so much. I did not buy the
last season or the series so far in general and this is more of the
same, but this one runs 18 (!!!) very long episodes, so it is for
fans and for fans only.
Behind The Scenes featurette and Bloopers Reel are the only extras.
we have Total Control:
Season 1 (2019) has some
police procedural leanings as a drama set in Australia about law,
violence, racism, prejudice and the like as Deborah Mailman and
Rachel Griffiths (of Muriel's
and TV's hit Six Feet
Under) in this sometimes
political melodrama with Griffiths as the Prime Minister, who gets
Alex Irving (Mailman) into a position of some power after an ugly
domestic violence incident that makes headlines, which Irving expects
to be let down by. When she is, all hell breaks loose and deals with
the hidden pain of a nation.
six episodes, I like the cast and wanted to like this one, but it
gets sidetracked midway and never truly recovers, which is a shame
because they have a solid cast and I bet they know it. I do like the
set-up and have been fortunate to be exposed to subject material more
than most U.S. viewers having watched more Australian productions
than most of the population of 'the states' and the like. Maybe the
next season will pick up the pace.
are no extras.
for playback performance, despite easily being the oldest production
on the list, the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image
on City looks amazing, solid and is stunningly, the first
feature film of Director of Photography Andrzej Bartkowiak, A.S.C.,
becoming Lumet's permanent DP for years after. The use of the frame,
color, light, darkness and camera angles is superior and an exercise
in pure cinema long overdue on Blu-ray. Bartkowiak (who also shot
the original Keanu Reeves Speed, Michael Douglas in Falling
Down, Prizzi's Honor and two of Barbra Streisand's films)
had instant synergy with Lumet and wow, does it show. Warner has
given this a great transfer.
film was a theatrical monophonic release and the DTS-HD MA (Master
Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix keeps that configuration, but the sound
is still well recorded and edited considering so many films were
going stereo at the time.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Fatal
Raid is a little sloppy, has color issues despite obviously
intended styling (including some attempts at black and white) and
more motion blur than any HD shoot should have at this time. The
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix also has its issues with
uneven editing and issues with recording on the Cantonese tracks
(also here in 2.0 DTS-MA Stereo) while the English dubs are no good
at all and much more trying.
six DVDs are here in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 framing, save
2.00 X 1 on Backstrom, Bloodlands and Total Control.
All are also HD shoots, but Backstrom, Bloodlands and
Playing For Keeps are softer and more motion blur-prone than
they ought to be. As for sound, all have lossy Dolby Digital 5.1
mixes, save lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in Keeps, which means they
should all sound good enough for the old, compressed codec. However,
all five of the Acorn DVDs underwhelm in their sound and sound as if
they were transferred at a lower volume than they should have been.
checked them all on several set ups and got the same results, so be
careful of high volume playback and volume switching in those cases.
order the Prince
Of The City
Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great