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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > British Telefilm > TV > The Inspector Lynley Mysteries Pilot, Seasons 1 & 2

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries – A Great Deliverance +

Sets 1 and 2 +


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C/D/C     Telefilms: B



Yes, its another show with a male/female pairing that has friction, but The Inspector Lynley Mysteries does this better than most shows we have seen in recent years, offering real and palpable friction between the title character (Nathaniel Parker) and Sgt. Barbara Havers (Sharon Small), who know each other and re not happy to be paired together.  However, they are both exceptional in what they do and the brutality of the murders they have to solve have them doing their best to put their differences aside and get to work.


That is a great way to describe these well-done British TV movies, issued by WGBH Boston Video in two sets, and a two-part single tale.  Author Elizabeth George’s world is brought to vivid life in a series that is exceptionally cast, acted, written and directed with a pace that never lets up and may remind some of the old shows that rotated on The NBC Mystery Movie from the early 1970s.  The titles are as follows:


1)     A Great Deliverance (two-part single release)

2)     Playing For The Ashes

3)     In The Presence Of The Enemy

4)     A Suitable Vengeance

5)     Deception On His Mind

6)     Well-Schooled In Murder

7)     Payment In Blood

8)     For The Sake Of Elena

9)     Missing Joseph



Their relationship is never oversimplified and any changes or resolutions are not watered down to “well, they were going to get together anyhow” because the show is much smarter than that.  This includes using things like politics and the personal side of persons lives in non-exploitive ways to forward the narrative and especially the mystery aspect that this show does better than just about any other of its kind set in the modern day.  It’s not just a simple crossword-puzzle mentality that destroyed Mystery genre storytelling since the early 1980s, when such production began to get lazy and go into decline, but of a fully realized worlds that is realistic without hitting the audience over the head with “that’s reality man” shortcuts that account for so many bad TV and feature film dramas today.


Those who think any kind of Mystery storytelling without a serial killer on the loose is old fuddy duddy television is not up to speed on shows like this.  Parker is great as Lynley, and Small is a great counterbalance to him, even outside of very authentic-feeling conflict and disagreement.  The chemistry between them is not the silly, dysfunctional craziness of Moonlighting, as they are both seriously good professionals.  Instead, it is about the conflict between their human natures, their job, their personal lives and what common denominators are between them; many of which they are not even going to being to examine because they are too busy doing their job.  That is a situation we have not run into in the genre before, particularly because the female half has never been presented as certainly able-bodied in such a situation.  That alone makes The Inspector Lynley Mysteries a key genre work, but the high standards of production may make it a classic.


The 16 X 9/1.78 X 1 image in all cases is only letterboxed, which is a shame, because the way these shows are shot is not as plastic or predictable as most shows in the genre.  This is good-looking, but has detail limits, though color is consistent enough.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has Pro Logic surrounds in all cases, sounding clearer and cleaner as the shows go on.  Extras are few nothing in the first set, while the follow-ups offer text on the stars briefly discussing the show, cast filmographies, virtual tour of the Mystery! studios, author Elizabeth George bibliography, and various weblinks and other suggested materials.  We recommend all the shows to date, but be sure you watch them in the original broadcast order, or you will be cheating yourself out of some great British television.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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