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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Police > British TV > Trial & Retribution Set Three (Acorn Media DVD)

Trial & Retribution Set Three (Acorn Media DVD)


Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Episodes:


The Lovers: B-    Sins of the Father: B   Closure: B



Trial and Retribution is one of the most popular crime procedural series on British television and, depending on your tolerance for the occasional scenery chewing actor and the incessant use of split-screen camerawork, it would seem it deserves that distinction.

Written and created by Lynda La Plante, the writer behind the highly successful Prime Suspect series
(reviewed elsewhere on this site) starring Helen Mirren, Trial and Retribution uses a typical police procedural template, with a couple of distinctive, important differences. First, it follows the crime through its resolution and on through the judicial phase, showing with some detail what happens in the courts after the case is "over."  Second, and more problematically, it utilizes split-screen technique to provide multiple POV's of the same action, simultaneous action in different locations, or action in different points in time.  For this viewer, it was at first jarring, then mildly annoying, then mildly interesting, and finally a gimmick that, depending on the writing, can actually pan out very well.  No doubt, this is a matter of taste and one might imagine that it, indeed, could be a deal breaker for some viewers.


The series strengths may be found in the writing and the acting, which is generally up to the high standard of British TV.  The three episodes in this set, "The Lovers," "Sins of the Father," and "Closure" were all engaging, didn't often violate credulity, though they did over play the serial killer card (twice in 3 episodes) as is so prevalent in series of this ilk.  In terms of acting, the leads, David Hayman as DCS Walker and Victoria Smurfit as DCI Connor, are generally excellent to a point.  Both actors play characters that are remarkably similar: hair-triggered, emotionally closed, work-focused, and fiercely independent.  On occasion they go off and, within those occasions, sometimes over the top, particularly Hayman, though Smurfit certainly is not immune to these lapses. This is a strength as a weakness; if you can get beyond the faux pas, there is one heck of show, with crackling relationship, sizzling between these two ticking time bombs. 


Volume IX, "The Lovers," chronicles the story of a newlywed vanishing in Covent Garden and his wife desperate attempt to find him, believing the police aren't all that interested in the case.  The specter of a serial killer raises its ugly, improbable head, but within the context of the story and its characters there is much to recommend it. The contentious relationship between Walker and Connor is a particular highlight.


Volume X, "Sins of the Father," a young woman's murder reveals a troubled family, a the woman's suspicious boyfriend, and DCI Connor's attempt to sift through the evidence to track the murderer, if murder it was.  A parallel story with DCS Walker's son acting out gives the episode's title a resonance that adds an interesting dimension to the dynamics of family life and what might go wrong in anyone's family.


Volume XI , "Closure," has DCI Connor embroiled in a case of a possible serial killer in which she feels the need to call in an American profiler to help out over DCS Walker's objection.  Things go as wrong as they might and though, in hindsight, this is the least satisfactory of the three volumes, violating as it does both the plausibility and the serial killer dictum, still the execution and action are first-rate.

The final DVD in the set contains a 46 minute behind the scenes making of, with interviews
with La Plante and Hayman being of interest.  The film isn't strictly geared to these episodes;
there is footage from other episodes not included here which tries a viewers patience depending on their sensibilities. Picture and sound are the same as the previous volumes, as covered at these links:


Set One



Set Two



- Don Wentworth


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