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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Blue Murder - Set 4'
(Caroline Quentin, Ian Kelsey, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / (2008) 2009 / Acorn Media)

Overview: In the squad room, the cops on the Manchester murder investigation unit call Janine Lewis “Boss.” At home, the kids simply call her “Mum.” In both places, she manages to keep everybody in line—but just barely—with a firm yet affectionate hand. Award-winning actress Caroline Quentin returns as both chief detective and a single mom trying to balance the demands of career and family.

DVD Verdict: 'Blue Murder' is one very entertaining detective series that, as they vividly point out on the front cover, most Americans have never witnessed! Despite the fact that this is the fourth series (the fifth, in the UK for some strange reason!) to have been released. Appealing especially to British mystery buffs, Detective Chief Inspector Janine Lewis (Caroline Quentin, 'Men Behaving Badly') plays one of those super strong and yet quietly sensitive women characters who is able to balance her hectic work life along with her hectic family life with equal strength of distinction.

For those that don't know, Janine lives and works in Manchester and her team at work is a an eclectic mix of personalities and unique strengths. They work well together, for sure, but as the series has progressed the cracks in their working environment seem to be more evident than ever before. Disagreements, sly verbal jabs and even, as we see in the first two-partner opener of the fourth series 'Private Sins,' one has secrets that can no longer be kept buried.

That character is DS Tony Shap (Nicolas Murchie), whose half-brother turns up as the episodes main suspect, in a case involving an illegal Belarusian immigrant and private investigator found murdered in a parking lot. Indeed, throughout this whole affair, the newly-crowned 'Supercop' Shap is covert throughout this entire tale. The storyline is great, the acting at top notch level, Quentin showing us a much slimmed down figure and leaner home life - as the husband is an an ex living in Spain!

New team member Kat, played by Belinda Everett is a wonderful female foil for Janine both in and out of the office. The new female colleague is such a cool, funny, strong breathe of fresh air to the group and is played with such shoulders-firmly-planted-back appeal by Belinda you just wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley!

Episode 3, which is the second story - come on now, stay close here - is named 'Tooth & Claw' and tells the story of a strangled vet named Ruth Turner. Whilst on her daily run near bucolic Hunter's Low, she witnesses a fire burning at a local stables, makes a phone call and next thing you know, she's dead! This is the first episode that comes to mind that has all the cast out and about in the sunny, beautiful landscape of the Manchester hills. Man, what scenery, lovely to watch them work outside for a change. Anyway, once you get past the massive red herring the ending is a twist from nowhere and so well worth the viewing time.

Episode 4, 'Having It All' is the 'Bring It On' of the batch, but without the rough and tumble of the art form. A very complex, entwined episode for sure, it features one very brutal garage death scene, a suspicious daughter, a suspicious father, and a non-suspicious, but queerly insensitive sister! And once you discover how the garage death went down, well, you'll be holding the back of your head every time you venture out into yours from there on in, trust me!

The fifth episode, 'This Charming Man' is based around the tale of a local Manchester band whose lead singer - a poor man's Liam Gallagher (Oasis) - is caught kissing another girl by his supposed girlfriend ... and then is discovered dead some hours later! With no connection to the original Charming Man, Morrissey, the story is a good whodunit for sure. I mean, not only is their music great, chart worthy even, but the way they finally unearth the killer is brilliant! Oh, and here's a quote from Paul Loughran (DS Ian Butchers), that wraps the episode: "The average age of a British man to die is 73. The average age of a Rock Star to die is 27!"

The final episode, 'Inside' (which was actually the second aired episode in the UK from this, THEIR fifth season!) is a great way to end the series here. Powerful, intriguing, in-depth and enough what-if's to have you on the edge of your seat, the tale unfolds that when someone is murdered on the inside, DI Richard Mayne (the brilliant Ian Kelsey) goes inside the prison as a con to catch the killer - whilst risking his life at the same time.

Trust me, the episodes on this DVD set are all expertly written, directed and acted. The city of Manchester looks alive and welcoming in this latest series, the ariel shots colorizing what used to be a dark, dingy cinematic sweep in prior openings. The crimes are as they would be in any large city, murderers skulking the streets, wrong doings around every corner. Each murder is solved, the twists, turns and red herrings brought to the fore each time in each 45 minute episode, the tensions and stress we all live and feel evident and appreciated for true realism. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Feature of:

Cast Filmographies