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Category:    Home > Reviews > A Touch Of Frost - Season One (DVD)

A Touch Of Frost – Season One (MPI DVD)


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



Since the mid-1980s, British TV has been trying to find a new type of realism, eschewing the Sherlock Holmes model of the detective.  This has even included disowning recent lineage in the shows like The Avengers, The Saint and their late 1970s revivals.  Part of this was in the influence of and attempt to emulate American detective shows like Kojak, The Streets Of San Francisco and even Starsky & Hutch.  Even a show like The Equalizer would be too British, despite being an American production with the great and very British Edward Woodward.  One of the popular results of this new cycle is A Touch Of Frost.


Now I am not accusing the film of any kind of “self-ethnic cleansing” of any kind, but the cost of moving away from an effective legacy has actually been to move into more non-Mystery type drama.  That ultimately has slowed-down all these types of shows, and even in its initial three telefilms, A Touch Of Frost cannot dodge running into that kind of muddiness.  I had hoped otherwise, but no dice.


David Jason is the title Chief Inspector Frost, immediately taking on a new detective, as is the case with the launch of such shows (like Homicide: Life On The Streets).  So much so that they cease being detective shows and become more of what we can truly call these cycles: The police procedural.  The only show that managed to watch the tightrope between the two and make procedurals as popular as they now are is Inspector Morse.  Frost plays half a generation ahead ideologically.  The three films featured on the two DVDs are:


Care & Protection – A child abduction case and a chance digging up of a body that could reopen a cold case are just the beginning of Chief Inspector Frost’s new concerns, besides a new recruit and a terminally ill wife.  Note the unusual backstory on the detective, and a crisis at that.  It does manage to juggle the multiple stories, but adding too many side stories as this does here replaces tension and suspense with muddling.


Not With Kindness – Terroristic threats and a missing teen are the last thing that Frost needs as too many personal issues and family maters become overwhelming.  Since the first film already set up the series, this second film is able to get on with it, though still getting bogged-down with what essentially translates into some formula for these shows.


Conclusions – Violent robbery and more murder kick in as Frost tries hard to find some kind of closure, if only he could get some solitude to solve everything.  This does, eventually, find a way to give some closure to the first season, in case the show did not continue, but it did.


The full frame 1.33 x 1 image is above average, with muted colors and finer details on the soft side throughout, pointing to the likelihood that this was shot in the PAL analog videotape format and translated to film.  Since PAL has almost the same frame rate as sound films speed (24 frames per second/fps) and American NTSC analog videotape (at 30 fps) does not), this is common practice on British TV.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no surround information to speak of, but is not bad for its period of recording in 1992.  There are no extras.


Like the soap operas, the actors here are better in similar work on U.S. TV as the material is more serious and more seriously paced.  There is no pretension and no false sense that everything will work out and everyone will be happy.  That explains the success of the show in its homeland and why DVDs like this fly off the shelves.  This came from Yorkshire Television, one of the better British TV outlets, so that also explains its better qualities.  Jason carries the show well enough.  A Touch Of Frost is initially one of the better shows of its type, which should especially satisfy fans.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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