Kavanagh Q.C. – Set One
Sound: C+ Extras: C Episodes: B-
After going over well with Inspector Morse, John
Thaw had yet another hit with Kavanagh Q.C., a decent TV detective show
that can go more than a few rounds with its U.S. counterparts. He may not go out of his way to investigate
and the show may be more melodramatic than one would like, but it has other
qualities that bring it above that usual formula in such films, which is why
this double DVD Set One from BFS is a welcome import.
James Kavanagh (Thaw) is a top public defender in the
Queen’s Counsel, an extremely well versed and well-spoken man whose performance
in the court is great, even if that of father and husband is not always as
successful. The hitch with any such show
is if the writers should give the character a home life or a romantic
interest. Marriage is often seen as a
negative unless the character is older (applicable here) or if the marriage
partner joins in the investigation (think Hart To Hart). The best example of how it worked and was
abandoned was in early seasons of Barney Miller, but that did not
include children, as is the case here.
These aside do not hurt and because these run the length
of four telefilms, and they did not have the family narrative cross over into
the crime stories, something too many a Hollywood film has done so badly and in
such a contrived manner. If the writers
get bored or actually come up with a great idea, we may eventually see the TV
grind result in this, but the following first four installments do not:
But The Truth – A case of rape is hard to determine, especially because
the accused (Ewan McGregor) is hard to read.
We have seen some of this before, but this is still not bad.
2) Heartland – A
troubled teenager who has been giving the law occasional headaches may have
been outright run down by an officer who could not stand him anymore, or was it
just a hit and run accident? If not,
can Kavanagh get an indictment?
3) A Family
Affair – When a father kidnaps his son over custody issues is
the mother’s boyfriend really molesting him or is something else going on.
Sweetest Thing – Did a prostitute kill her “john” and was she “nuts”
when she did it? A series of diaries
point to possible premeditation, but that does not make her the killer. If not her, than who?
The shows work best when they stick to the case, but the
family subplots are not bad and at least convincing. Thaw is so convincing, as the skills of a veteran actor would be
able to achieve, that his appeal keeps things going even when things get
occasionally weak. Otherwise, this is
good television, especially in an age of terrible “reality TV” and terrible
action and/or detective dramas that astound the viewer in how they ever got the
The full frame 1.33 X 1 image is surprisingly hazy, and
whether shot on PAL tape of even 16mm film, someone doing the digital
remastering got carried away. These
should be at least a bit clearer here than they are, but I like the way the
shows are shot just the same. The Dolby
Digital 2.0 Stereo has no surrounds to speak of, but is still clear enough to
be recognized as a relatively recent recording. The combination was enough to keep me watching. Extras, all text, include cast profiles,
famous law quotations, how the series got off the ground, a look at Thaw’s
career and some trivia. They all read
well and all are informative.
In many U.S. TV detective show, they are too joking or
light in their approach to life. You
never believe the worlds of Matlock, Scarecrow & Mrs. King, Remington
Steele or other start vehicle detective shows. Even Murder She Wrote and some later Columbo
telefilms from the cycle of revivals just do not have the edge U.S. detective
shows used to, or they are simple police procedurals with little mystery. Though not as good as rare exceptions like Homicide
– Life In The Streets (reviewed elsewhere on this site), Kavanagh Q.C.
will surprise those who think this is a dying artform on TV.
- Nicholas Sheffo