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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Police Procedural > British TV > The Helen West Casebook (aka Helen West/2002/Acorn Media DVD)

The Helen West Casebook (aka Helen West/2002/Acorn Media DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Telefilms: C+



In the world of police procedurals, the three telefilms of the short-lived Helen West Casebook (aka Helen West) series may be the first to become a cult item from the long and winding cycle of usually forgettable such shows.  Amanda Burton is good in the title role, but the problem is that she is underdeveloped, yet the function of the mysteries work better than usual for this cycle… at least initially.


From Frances Fyfield’s books, the telefilms are Deep Sleep, Shadow Play and A Clear Conscience, but for whatever reason, each becomes progressively weaker.  That is why it was soon axed and though Burton moved on to greater success in Silent Witness and The Commander, it is interesting to look back at this set up of professional worker with personal problems.  We see that all the time.  Here, there was a different way they tried to approach it, but ran out of ways to do so and that is why it ended so soon.


The 1.33 X 1 image is softer than expected with aliasing errors and motion blur throughout.  What happened?  This should look much better for a new production, but if filmed and these copies were finished on PAL analog videotape, then that would explain it.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is better, with some distortion, but clean and clear enough for its age and to hear now.  The only extras are text on Burton and Fyfield.  For more on The Commander, try this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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