'Prime Suspect 7 - The Final Act'
(Helen Mirren, Stephen Tompkinson, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / (2006) 2007 / Acorn Media)
Overview: Starring Oscar®-winner and 2007 Emmy®-nominee Helen Mirren (The Queen) in the final act of TV’s most acclaimed crime series; the conclusion to this edgy, engrossing police drama finds Jane Tennison at the end of her career, facing the imminent death of her father, struggling with alcoholism, resisting pressure to retire, and hunting the killer of a 14-year-old girl; among the most-honored franchises in TV history, winner of the Peabody Award, multiple Emmys®, and many more laurels, including four 2007 Emmy nominations.
DVD Verdict: Masterpiece Theater has long been a benchmark in bringing quality British TV to American viewers. With a prestigious history, some legendary programs--including "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "I, Claudius"--have found acclaim, awards, and international audiences. Of late, "Masterpiece Theater" has been showcasing some ambitious literary adaptations with mixed results. Last season's high point, and a must for any lover of film, was the flawless adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Bleak House." A triumph in every regard, and featuring Emmy nominated turns by Charles Dance and Gillian Anderson, this program should be essential viewing for those that value literate, classy and wildly entertaining TV. This season's offerings have included "To The Ends Of The Earth" (an adaptation of William Golding's seafaring trilogy--'Rites Of Passage,' 'Close Quarters' and 'Fire Down Below'), a robust new version of Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre," a reimagining of Bram Stoker's "Dracula," and the swan song of Helen Mirren's Jane Tennison in "Prime Suspect 7-The Final Act."
Unlike most entries in the "Masterpiece Theater" library this year, "Prime Suspect 7" is not a literary adaptation of a classic work. Instead, it is the final installment of the wonderful "Prime Suspect" series which began 15 years ago. In 1992, audiences were introduced to Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison who was the only woman in a London homicide squad. Passed over for promotion due to her gender, her big break came when another DCI suffered a heart attack. Stepping up as the leader of the squad, she encountered disdain and ridicule from the men of the unit--but through the years has garnered a grudging respect due to her investigative skills. Now, in "Prime Suspect 7-The Final Act," Tennison faces her final case and her impending retirement after a cumulative 30 years working for the police.
When a high school girl goes missing, police are quick to question possible suspects--from her parents, to a coach she may have been involved with, to a secret boyfriend. Learning more about the girl, it seems as if she was not the innocent most people believed her to be. Tennison befriends another young girl, a potential witness in the case who happens to be the victim's best friend. As Tennison faces retirement, she is still battling many demons--an estrangement from her family, a father in the hospital, and her alcoholism. Her friendship with the girl is a way for her to grasp the remaining part of her humanity, and to get some kind of understanding for the hard choices that she has made to further her career. Not to be dismissive of the actual police procedural--but in all honesty, it's not that hard to figure out. But you know what? Doesn't matter in the slightest.
This program, more than any other in the "Prime Suspect" series, is a love letter to Helen Mirren. Tennison is easily one of TV's most difficult female characters--she is a mass of flaws and an absolute mess in most regards. Mirren has evolved with this character, so it's fitting that the final installment features Tennison at her most vulnerable. In a year where Mirren has won every award conceivable for both "Elizabeth I" on TV and "The Queen" at the movies--this, to me, (although not a royal) is her crowning achievement! It's a fitting tribute to a complex character and an opportunity for Mirren to grace us with another tour de force performance (she has previously won Emmy accolades for prior "Prime Suspect" installments). Recommended highly (but 4 stars due to the rather routine resolution of the film's central mystery), I will miss not having Jane Tennison to look forward to any more. A great series, a great good-bye. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
50-minute Behind-The-Scenes Featurette