Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Last Detective Series 2 (2004)

The Last Detective isn't going to win many achievement awards. It has none of the gripping tension of Prime Suspect or Touching Evil. Nor does it have the philosophical aura of Inspector Morse or the hard hitting Law & Order CI. There doesn't appear to be many cliffhangers either. However, maybe that's the point? It relies on the mundane English locale with a familiar workmanlike face in Peter Davidson to fight its criminals.


Volume One

DC Davies (Davidson) has to solve a case when wealthy bastard Maurice Leyman (an outstanding Allan Corduner) dies while lying in a drunken stupor as his studio goes up in a blaze. His wife, the certain Christine Leyman (Susan Vidler), is the primary lead. But Davies has other ideas.

It might have been better had writer Richard Harris not given away the culprit so quickly. Mrs. Leyman's cool collectiveness was a sign of her innocence and dislike towards her husband's verbal and physical abusiveness. With a variety of quirky characters to interview but no concrete motive, the killer becomes all too obvious. C-

The Long Bank Holiday
Computer theft, suicide by train, missing identity, buried human bones, and a neighborly fight over hedges are all sewn together to make this the best episode of Series 2. The storyline has a good flow to it and does a fine job of intertwining Davies' personal life. Special props to the ruling Councillor Balsam (Lynda Bellingham) and the charming and lovely Mandy (Tracy-Ann Oberman). B

Volume 2

Benefit to Mankind
There's a lot of money to be made in the drug industry. Henry Winton's body is found in a canal after discovering Carl Swanee's (David Threlfall) Alzheimer's medicine research has failed. Then Anna Beauchamp goes missing, and Davies takes a trip to Wales to find her when he runs into the likes of painter Tecwyn Hughes (Alan David) and the distinctive Professor Tapscott (Ronald Pickup). Michael Aitkins' screenplay is steady, and the opening scene with Pearly Gates (Peter Jonfield) is a memorable one. B-

Dangerous and the Lonely Hearts
Davies investigates the "Love of Your Life" dating service after Natalie Burisha (Branka Katic) is found dead in her flat. Gavin (Alexander Hanson), a former flame, is told of her death and strangely laughs hysterically to this viewers delight. (A sign right there he isn't the killer.) Then Burisha's next door neighbor and wounded love interest, boxer Paddy Jones (Trevor Laird), jumps off the balcony in an honorable suicide attempt (and so to the chances of him being the killer). If that weren't enough, what really ruins the story later is when Davies goes to pick up his clampt car at the impound lot. By chance he discovers an unclaimed car that holds the key to the case. This is absurd, and I found the episode to be light in its expose. Plus some obvious planting devices and cliched instances unfortunately make me think twice about this program. D+

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

To the Point -- movie and TV reviews

Crappy, plain reviews in a complex time

Inspector Lynley Mysteries 2
In the Presence of the Enemy

Inspector Lynley Mysteries Series 4
The Seed of Cunning

The Last Detective Series 2
Touching Evil 3

Touching Evil 3 (2001)


Episode 1
The third installment sees the mentally unfit DI David Creegan (Robson Green) pursuing a killer who leaves his victims in car boots with their internal organs presented in a bin bag. Anthony Matchin (a fine performance by Michael Hodgson) is the prime suspect, but Creegan knows he's isn't the killer. Internal corruption in the police force leads the OSC (Organized and Serial Crime Unit) to take over the investigation before it gets any further out of hand. (See James Hooton's riveting performance as the pathological Wayne Fitten.)

The primary problem is the storyline is composed of essentially two acts: the first half is a whodunnit which explains the plotline with such a wonderful sense of heightened intensity and meter (arguably the shows best), and the second act, more or less a whytheydunnit, which is expected to deliver the shocking climax but instead feels anti-climactic. Once the killer is revealed, I felt disappointed. It's as if the scripts resources were somewhat exhausted from the first act. Not to say the second is bad, but the drama might have been better sustained if there were three acts. The storyline could have had even more purpose should the killer not be revealed till after the final (and startling) murder.

Then the idea that Matchin becomes suicidal is a bit of a suprise. He was depressed over his wife's death, but he never displayed any real signs directly before his release from prison. With Matchin out of the picture, the trail of leads became quite singular. The murderer is someone who kills women to afflict suffering on their husbands. Someone who has a direct link between the grieving men. The identity revealed felt tame, and had it not been revealed till its latest (or a different character altogether), the lamenting could have been kept to a minimum. I can see why to an extent (no spoiler here), but with such a suspenseful first act, the opportunity to pull this episode atop in the series was left with the dead. B+