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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > British Telefilms > Cadfael Collection (Mystery Telefilms)

The Cadfael Collection (13 British Telefilms)


Picture: C     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:


1)     The Leper Of St. Giles

2)     Monk’s Hood

3)     One Corpse Too Many

4)     The Sanctuary Sparrow

5)     The Devil’s Novice

6)     St. Peter’s Fair

7)     The Virgin In The Ice

8)     A Morbid Taste For Bones

9)     The 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


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