Armchair Thriller – Set 1 (1978, 1980/Acorn Media DVD)
C Sound: C+ Extras: D Episodes: B-
around between its last two (and only) full-color seasons, Armchair Thriller is yet another high quality British mystery
series that has been out of circulation for too long. Done in multiple parts/episodes like a Dr. Who story, this set has four
complete tales for you to figure out including:
Dying Day (1980) with Ian McKellan as a
marked man who finds out about a murder plot against him through an audio tape
he finds. Michael Troughton and Anton
Phillips also star.
The Limbo Connection (1978) has yet another drunken
man (James Bolam) finding out he may have killed someone when he is out of his
drunken haze, but is he begin set up? It
is much better than it sounds.
Rachel In Danger (1978) offers the 10-year-old of
the title being picked up by a man who claims to be her father, but is
not. Then it turns out she is a pawn in
a much larger, deadly plot. Not bad.
The Victim (1980) has a teenaged daughter
(Lorna Yabsley) of an industrialist (John Shrapnel) kidnapped, but it may be
for something more than money. Gerald
Sim also stars, but this is the weakest of the four.
the second season, 1980, the third and final season. The shows are well-done, yet there is some
lag and more convention than I would have liked. However, this is top rate production and
ambitious at that. Robert Tronson (Callan, Brian Clemens’ Thriller) directed the first two stories, with the
second working out better. Waris Hussein
(Dr. Who, Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx) helmed Danger
and John Bowen (The Wilde Alliance,
who wrote the first and third installments) took on Victim. Robert Banks
Stewart, who has written for The
Avengers, Callan, Jason King & Dr. Who (all reviewed elsewhere on this site) was story editor for
the show and that is a big plus. Each
episode is about 25 minutes long.
again, it is amazing with all the digital effects and high definition, how much
better these most analog-videotaped shows look better, are directed better,
have better acting, have better scripts and better editing than many of their
would-be motion picture successors.
There is true suspense and the intelligence of the audience is
considered. The great thing about
mysteries is that they are a form of storytelling that expects the audience to
be smart and work. This is that kind of
X 1 image was shot mostly in PAL analog video with some 16mm in spots (here off
of the PAL video of the time, unfortunately; hope that footage survived) and
you can see haloing and other color weakness, to say nothing of detail limits,
but they look about as good as PAL tapings of this time can, so the transfers
are decent. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
is good for its age with some expected distortion, but it sounds better than it
looks. There are no extras.
- Nicholas Sheffo