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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > British TV > True Crime > Julian Fellowes Presents “A Most Mysterious Murder”

Julian Fellowes Presents “A Most Mysterious Murder”


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Episodes: B



Julian Fellowes received an Academy Award for his screenplay of Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, which this critic thinks is Altman’s worst film and its ideas about deconstructing the detective and mystery story are a mess.  Altman was better off with his underrated The Gingerbread Man, based on an unpublished story by John Grisham.  When I heard he would do a TV series, I was skeptical, but A Most Mysterious Murder is a very interesting True Crime series.  That is especially because all the murders take place during WWII or before.  The cases are:

The Case of Charles Bravo: In 1876, the new husband of a woman with a scandalous past dies in agony from antimony poisoning.


The Case of Rose Harsent: In 1902, an unmarried, pregnant servant girl is stabbed to death in the village of Peasenhall.


The Case of George Harry Storrs: In 1909, a wealthy industrialist meets an untimely death that is cause for alarm.


The Case of the Croydon Poisonings: In 1929, the third person in a respectable middle-class family in Croydon dies after a short illness, raising fears of a serial killer.


The Case of the Earl of Erroll: In 1941, an aristocrat living the high life in Kenya is shot dead one evening on his way home from the Colonial Muthaiga Club.



Each show runs about an hour and offers dramatic reenactments of the known facts with extrapolations to recreate them.  What is amusing is that out of nowhere, give or take the occasional voice over, Fellowes pops up on the set the dramatizations take place ala Rod Serling on The Twilight Zone.  However, these moments run from so awkward to unintentionally funny that if Benny Hill were alive, he’d be making a regular skit out of them.  Fellowes is trying to be the James Ellroy of British TV and the sketch of him smacks of the famous Alfred Hitchcock profile.


However, unlike the sleazy Film Noir type True Crime you would get from Ellroy and others in the “pulp fiction” vein, leave it to the British to do an upscale version of the sub genre like nothing seen on TV before.  In that, Fellowes has stuck gold enough top come up with something original in a field of often tired, formulaic police procedurals and mystery stories that have no mystery to them.  If anything, it reminds one of the better episodes of Leonard Nimoy’s classic hit TV show In Search Of… from the 1970s in its constant series of facts and examinations.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image was shot on video and though it was likely digital High Definition, Video Black is an issue within some shots, though not on the actual discs.  That suggests a flaw in the material or source.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has good Pro Logic surrounds and is more in keeping with a new production.  Extras include text case notes, stills, text bio on Fellowes and a half-hour making of featurette.  A Most Mysterious Murder is something newer in a sea of unambitious TV from both sides of the sea.  Catch it soon.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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