A Touch Of Frost – Season
One (MPI DVD)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: D Telefilms: B-
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.
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.
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.
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