'DCI Banks: Season Two'
(Stephen Tompkinson, Andrea Lowe, Caroline Catz, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2014 / BBC America)
Overview: Stephen Tompkinson returns as the tenacious and stubborn Chief Inspector Alan Banks in three more chilling crime stories.
DVD Verdict: Although actually known in the UK as "Season Three," this US version is entitled Season Two. OK, are we now on the same page? Good. Let's continue. As the second ("third") series opens, Banks must learn to work with dramatic changes to his team. Detective Annie Cabbot (Andrea Lowe) is off on maternity leave and is soon replaced by the impossible-to-read Helen Morton (Caroline Catz).
'DCI Banks' is truly and excellent British crime drama, but you have to be a fan of Caroline Catz! Otherwise, well, her overacting will manage to drag you and the show down to its knees, trust me! Better known for her role in 'Doc Martin,' Catz is on fire here; overly, but at least Tomkinson and the rest of the cast provide the necessary gravitas. ie: very subtle humor and at times, despair.
In the first of the three new episodes, 'Strange Affair,' we open on both Banks and Cabbott at an Irish pub before the aforementioned Morton joins Banks' team to investigate the murder of Jennifer Lewis. Shot dead in her car, Banks' home address and directional map is also discovered on a napkin in her car. Soon both Banks and his brother are in trouble, neck deep, with Banks becoming their prime suspect! But then evidence of an escort agency emerges and a pair of double murders later and Banks is back in the Force's good books and the hunt is well and truly on for the real killer.
In the second episode, 'Dry Bones That Dream,' (a great title, if ever there was), Keith Rothwell, an unassuming accountant with an overbearing wife Mary, is dragged from the family home and his head blown off by a masked intruder! I have to warn you that the linger-upon after shots are gruesome - bloody gruesome! Anyway, as the investigation continues Banks has a run in with DCI Burgess, now a member of SOCO, but always an arrogant colleague at their police college.
Funnily enough, and to add spice to the underbelly of the episode, Burgess is investigating possible corruption by MP Martin Fleming re: a money laundering fiddle. Of course, the two investigations bleed into one another, but in one great scene where Banks has another argument with Burgess, he turns and walks away with Morton: "You do realize that you've just stormed out of your own office, Sir?", she quizzically asks Banks!
In the final episode, 'Innocent Graves,' teenager Ellie Clayton is strangled on her way home from rehearsing a play with her drama group. All the witness sees is a blue car driving away from the scene of the crime, so that's all the gang has to go on. But from the off we are paraded a handful of male suspects; most of which we know to be red herrings. The director of the theater group is arrested, but he points the finger at someone else; an ex-group member. The fact that Banks' team have had their last two cases overturned in court doesn't bode well as come three months later (when this case goes to court) this one gets overturned also!
But when another girl is found dead in the same spot as Ellie things begin to truly heat up. Again, more red herrings are shown, the drama teacher is shunted back and forth as a good guy vs. a bad guy, but at all times his acting is spot on incredible. He is truly the bright spot in this - for the most part - downbeat storyline. That all said, and importantly, come the end of each episode I am left wanting more. Which, in my book, is always a good sign! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.