'Blue Murder: Complete Collection'
(Caroline Quentin, Ian Kelsey, et al / 9-Disc DVD / NR / 2010 / Acorn Media)
Overview: On the job, Detective Chief Inspector Janine Lewis deals with the ugly side of human nature, investigating Manchester’s most gruesome crimes. At home, she’s a harried but devoted single mother of four, struggling to balance her challenging career with the stresses and rewards of family life. This complete collection follows the gritty realities of Lewis’s career from her initial promotion through personal and professional ups and downs--always presented with a touch of wry humor and keen observations about modern motherhood.
DVD Verdict: In late March of 2010, the UK TV station associated with bringing this fine show to the airwaves, ITV ditched the Caroline Quentin crime drama Blue Murder after (in the UK) five series - compiled as just four over here in the US within this collection.
"We honestly didn't suspect. So we haven't had the chance to say a lot of goodbyes. Everyone was sad when we found out," she said when asked about it the next month. And, having just watched the entire series in a night-after-night viewing session, I have to wonder quite why ITV took it upon themselves to breakup some a family!
The program, which starred Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis, first appeared on (UK) screens in 2003 and was last seen in October of 2009, when the final episode of series five (season four over here - please try to keep up!) aired.
Blue Murder - Set 1
‘Cry Me A River’ - Part 1
We open with Inspector Janine Lewis (Caroline Quentin) earning her stripes and becoming Detective Chief Inspector Lewis, being congratulated by her squad, and then going home to celebrate with her husband - and finding him in bed with the nanny! The entire series is full of these ups and downs for her, mostly showing her at-home life as a shambles re: an endless string of nanny’s for her 3 kids - and one on the way!
The murder that sets the series off is committed on an allotment and, for the most part, drags itself through to the end of Part 1. The other main act to mention is the return to her squad of an old friend, DI Richard Mayne (Ian Kelsey) - someone who might well be the answer to her sexual tension!
‘Cry Me A River’ - Part 2
The pace picks up here with three suspects all getting narrowed down and eliminated as we progress. A lot more family issues crop up, and in truth they get in the way of the storyline. The plot twists and turns before the end, even dead ends unexpectedly at one point, and when revealed, well, it was semi-predictable!
‘Hit & Run’
A body is fished out of the canal and at the same time, a hit and run outside a school is witnessed by DCI Lewis. Connected? Of course, but that’s up to the squad to prove. DCI Lewis has given birth, a young daughter now makes her spawn at four, and she’s back to work after her maternity leave. The story revolves around a Polish stripper, a seedy club, and comes complete with a wickedly unexpected twist ending!
‘Up In Smoke’
A woman is found hanged in her father’s estate house, but primarily this episode revolves around the coming and goings of a Crematorium. A real whodunit this one, for sure - great twist just at the end also!
A racial tone is the plot to this episode that smacks of real life torment between races, faith and belief systems. Muslims, whites, and African-American’s fight constantly here, screaming and shouting racial abuse to one another. ‘The Lemon,’ DCI Lewis’ boss (as she calls him) is as stressed as ever and looking to pop a blood vessel or three come the final moments! In the end, the conclusion is down to personal greed.
A horrible murder takes the lead here. Chaz, a Muslim cop from the beat, who helped out in the case before, is now with the squad (unannounced) but is gone by the time the next episode is shown! Anyway, an autistic child is the only witness to a murder and come the final reveal, well, I defy anybody to have guessed the true outcome beforehand!
Blue Murder - Set 2
‘The Spartacus Thing’
The opening is incredibly sad, very realistically played out. In other episode news, DCI Lewis now has a new boss, ‘The Lemon ‘having been replaced by a female! The tale is slow to reveal itself here, a back burner plot to say the least, but just after the hour mark comes a nice twist! The ending is a little farcical, but works - I guess!
A young child is abducted from a play ground, and a few days later a child of similar looks and age is found dead down a drain. Weirdly, and tangential, DCI Lewis’ kids have grown up tremendously and are not actually “young kids” any more! All that from the last episode when they were visibly younger! Which makes me think that this second episode was the true first episode of the second season in the UK. Anyhoo, DCI Lewis does a great job (as a character) in a drunk club scene - just a brilliant rendition! Come the end, the twist is a little perverse, but makes sense. This episode also stars ‘Lofty’ from Eastenders.
A body is found in the water and after a slow build-up, the episode takes a family turn - as DCI Lewis’ Polish male nanny teaches her son, Tom how to stand up for himself at school re: bullies - with a swift one-two to their guts and faces! He gets fired soon after, of course! As for the episode, not exciting, and they kind of give the killer away halfway through, unfortunately!
A robbery goes wrong when a young girl is involved in a hit and run. Now, the fact that the episode is named after one of the characters should give you the advance knowledge that he is not exactly, even though he’s a cop, going to come out of this one clean! Anyway, that aside, this is definitely a grim tale, the killing within the first third of the episode out of the blue and devastating.
The Special Features of text interviews with both Caroline Quentin and Ian Kelsey are interesting, but I would have much rather seen a video interview with them both.
Blue Murder - Set 3
‘Not A Matter of Life And Death’
Two brothers get into trouble outside a night club, with one of them eventually dying. A girl sees the mess, gets into a cab, and drives off - fast becoming the main suspect in the hunt for answers. After 20 minutes, and after something is said by one of the suspects, you suddenly know what’s happened - and why! Another advancement here is that DCI Lewis arrives to the office talking on a blue tooth - which she NEVER uses ever again, in any episode, in any series! DI Mayne gets some personal, and welcomed good news too.
An incident on an Army base brings the squad onto unfamiliar ground. With the army hating the regular police, the police hating the Army, tempers flare, words are spat out, and the whole episode is taut. Suddenly, after the initial death, another officer is attacked, and then another is killed! The plot may well be a wee bit contrived, but it rolls at a beautiful pace and ends the very short three-episode season in style.
The Special Feature of a Behind-The-Scenes featurette (45 mins.) is hilarious! Absolutely brilliant as it shows not only how it all came together, but how they all truly seem to be in awe of each other! Revealing that the show is shown in 24 different countries, another interesting fact was that it gets mentioned it was a behind-the-scenes look at “season four” - and yet this is on Set 3 of the series! Again, somewhere along the line, the UK run re: episodes seem to have been sliced and diced differently over here for these sets. Oh, and just wait till you get to the part where Ian Kelsey just cannot remember to say the words ‘over the side‘ - take after take after take after take!
Blue Murder - Set 4
‘Private Sins’ - Part 1’
We begin with two new things off the bat - brand new, snazy opening credits and more episodes per season/set, but down from 1 hour 15 mins to just 45 mins. Sgt. Shap (played by Nicholas Murchie)
is cleared of planting evidence at a crime scene, but is quickly knee-deep in a new mess! A bloody stabbing atop a car park brings out a secret in Sgt. Shap - one that he struggles to keep under control for most of the entire two-part episode! DCI Lewis’ estranged husband, Pete now “lives” in Spain and so she only speaks to him via a few phone calls. The episode ends with a gruesome murder.
‘Private Sins’ - Part 2’
We go straight into the second part with Sgt. Shap now deep into the mess and having to semi-explain things to DI Mayne - who gives him one last chance to shape up or ship out. The team also gets a new African-American female in their squad, Cat - just slipped in, under the radar, no mention of Lisa having left … or why! The ending of this whodunit comes complete with a real twist - and what a twist!
‘Tooth & Nail’
A woman out running stumbles across a farm burning down, makes a call, and then is found dead (off screen)! The squad get to leave their concrete jungle and spread their legs on the dales and moors of Manchester … and they LOVE it … save for Sgt. Shap! As for who the killer is, well, it can be put together if you watch, listen and pick up on facial expressions, but I won’t give it away! This is a really well played out, nicely scripted episode and comes complete with wonderful, expansive scenery.
‘Having It All’
The death of a school Cheer Team coach leads us down a path of young love and hormones! That said, if you watch closely, the so-called “chief suspect” uses his eyes to give the game away early on, BUT it turns out to be a (slight) double bluff! Anyhoo, DCI Lewis’ kids are remarkably older (again) and makes you realize (as DI Mayne has a new haircut also) that this must have been a “future” season in the UK!
‘This Charming Man’
The story of the death of an up-and-coming lead singer of a Manchester rock band takes center stage here in grand style. The story may well plod along at times, but the acting is great, the story line feasible, and the whodunit conclusion; not to mention a wicked plot twist, is well worth waiting for!
What a way to end the series/set - although they didn‘t know it, obviously! My goodness, wow, this was riveting from start to finish. A man, days away from getting an appeal on his murder sentence, is killed inside prison. DI Mayne goes in undercover to investigate, unbeknownst to his boss, DCI Lewis or the rest of the squad. This is a neat tale, well-acted, and is solid as a stand-alone episode. [RT] This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the noted Special Features of:
Text interviews with stars Caroline Quentin and Ian Kelsey
A behind-the-scenes documentary