The Cadfael Collection (13 British Telefilms)
Sound: C Extras: C Telefilms: B-
It has been a while since I looked at any of the Cadfael
telefilms starring Derek Jacobi, and I still am not extraordinarily impressed,
but Acorn Media has issued all 13 in an exceptionally packaged Cadfael
Collection set that collects all 13 films on 13 DVDs. The case looks like a book with a lock on it
and is one of the best DVD packagings of any kind we have seen to date,
something fans of creator Ellis Peters (aka Edith Pargeter) will find
particularly appealing. The DVDs even
have chapters! (Ha, ha!)
The 13 films are:
Leper Of St. Giles
Corpse Too Many
Virgin In The Ice
8) A Morbid
Taste For Bones
Raven In The Foregate
10) The Rose Rent
11) The Holy Thief
12) The Pilgrim Of Hate
13) The Potter’s Field
Each tale of murder lasts 75 minutes long and has the kind
of historical/religious highlights fans have come to expect from such
material. That puts it above the bland
would-be mystery Nineteen books were
written altogether, but only these shows were made, though with their success,
why not revive the character for more telefilms? Though I was not as impressed, they are intelligent and the idea
of religious figure as detective is a cycle that surfaces all the time in the
mystery genre, but never really takes hold.
Calling it a sub-genre might even be appropriate. Here, Cadfael (pronounced “cad-file”) is
enough of a man of early science as he is of the holy order, but Jacobi is
still impressive in the role. In some
cases, he carries entire scenes because he is so strong in the role. After going through the films again, I see I
happened by chance to miss the better films.
The extra history surrounding the characters is a plus when the mystery
is not always as strong. A past time
changes the ability to investigate, which is always a nice twist, so it was
nice to finally catch up to all the shows.
The full frame 1.33 X 1 image is stylized, but is also
somewhat hazy, something that runs throughout all the shows. That is partly its look, but I have to
wonder if Granada could have issued better prints. They will have to when the call for digital High Definition
versions arrive, perhaps supervised by the various cinematographers
utilized. Oddly, the size and quality
of the subtitles available vary throughout.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 is simple stereo with no surrounds, but the
dialogue was recorded well enough. Just
expect sonic limits. Extras vary
throughout each DVD, but include text information on the cast, Peters writing,
stills and audio from Jacobi, who has written an essay for this new set printed
in a fold-out inside the DVD bookcase.
Mystery sets like MGM’s Charlie Chanthology (reviewed elsewhere
on this site) have been nicely packaged as many Mystery sets have more often
than most genres of programming out on DVD.
The Cadfael Collection continues that tradition in packaging and
content. Let’s hope for mystery fans, this
is a continuing trend.
- Nicholas Sheffo