TV review – PRIME SUSPECT: THE FINAL ACT (2006)

Prime Suspect: The Final Act (TV) (2006; UK/USA; Colour; 182m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Philip Martin; w. Frank Deasy; ph. Julian Court; m. Nicholas Hooper.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Stephen Tompkinson, Laura Greenwood, Eve Best, Gary Lewis, Katy Murphy, Frank Finlay, Tom Bell, Robert Pugh, Brendan Coyle, Robbie Gee, Russell Mabey. Approaching retirement, Jane Tennison investigates the murder of a missing girl. But the cracks soon begin to show as Jane struggles with an alcohol problem and the death of her father. Final installment in the series is a relentlessly downbeat affair. Mirren delivers a superb performance and the production values are excellent and authentic. There is the occasional contrivance and the finale seems rushed after over three hours of twists and turns. But this is still an absorbing last hurrah for one of TV’s great detectives. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT: THE LAST WITNESS (2003)

Prime Suspect: The Last Witness (TV) (2003; UK/USA; Colour; 195m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Tom Hooper; w. Peter Berry; ph. Larry Smith; m. Rob Lane.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Liam Cunningham, Oleg Menshikov, Ben Miles, Robert Pugh, Mark Strong, Velibor Topic, Barnaby Kay, Tanya Moodie, Rad Lazar, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Olegar Fedoro, Sam Hazeldine, Frank Finlay. Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison’s investigation of the murder of a Bosnian refugee leads her to one, or possibly two, Serbian war criminals determined to silence the last witness to a massacre a decade before. Political intrigue rather than murder mystery is the theme for this installment. The subtext of war crimes committed in Bosnia adds an emotional layer. Mirren continues her excellent run with this character. The camera work is a little too flashy at times, but cannot detract from another absorbing tale. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT 5: ERRORS OF JUDGEMENT (1996)

Prime Suspect 5: Errors of Judgement (TV) (1996; UK/USA; Colour; 208m) ∗∗∗∗  pr. Lynn Horsford; d. Phil Davis; w. Guy Andrews; ph. Barry McCann; m. Stephen Warbeck.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Steven Mackintosh, David O’Hara, Marsha Thomason, Ray Emmet Brown, John McArdle, Julia Lane, John Brobbey, David Norman, Gabrielle Reidy.  Following an intemperate act at the end of THE SCENT OF DARKNESS, Tennison is assigned to Manchester CID, where she investigates the murder of a drug dealer that she believes was committed by a local gang leader and folk hero known as “The Street”. Excellent installment changes both the locale and the formula and is a battle of wits between cop and villain. Mackintosh and Mirren spark brilliantly in their scenes together. making for riveting viewing that helps us to forgive the rather cliched discovery and standoff finale. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT: THE SCENT OF DARKNESS (1995)

Prime Suspect: The Scent of Darkness (TV) (1995; UK/USA; Colour; 105m) ∗∗∗½  pr. Brian Park; d. Paul Marcus; w. Guy Hibbert; ph. David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Christopher Fulford, John Benfield, Richard Hawley, Stuart Wilson, Tim Woodward, Stephen Boxer, Stafford Gordon, Joyce Redman, Pip Donaghy, Marc Warren.  A series of brutal sex murders disturbingly similar to the pattern of Superintendent Jane Tennison’s first major case leads to the awful suggestion that she may have caught the wrong man the first time. This installment focuses on Tennison’s reaction to the doubts raised and Mirren is excellent as ever as her character descends into paranoia and increasing alcohol dependency as she tries to prove her initial judgement was correct. The wrap up is a little too neat and swift after the investigation takes one wrong turn after another once Tennison is suspended.  Otherwise, this is a solid mystery and a nice conclusion to the three movies that made up the fourth series of this consistent cop drama. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT: INNER CIRCLES (1995)

Prime Suspect: Inner Circles (TV) (1995; UK/USA; Colour; 102m) ∗∗∗  pr. Paul Marcus; d. Sarah Pia Anderson; w. Eric Deacon, Meredith Oakes; ph. David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Jill Baker, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Craig, Richard Hawley, John Benfield, Phillada Sewell, James Laurenson, Thomas Russell, Jonathan Copestake, Anthony Bate, Ralph Arliss, Nick Patrick.  Tennison, on loan to another jurisdiction, is sent in to investigate a murder of a country club manager. At first glance, it looks like a fairly obvious sex murder, but the facts suggest otherwise. As Tennison investigates, she uncovers a link to the ongoing situations within the local municipal government, and uncovers a possible political scandal which proves to be much larger and darker than she anticipated. More conventional mystery with familiar sub-plots of corruption and internal politics added to the mix. Whilst the mystery is satisfactorily played out the script feels a little generic and therefore the production lacks the edge of earlier stories in the series. Mirren remains superb though. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT: THE LOST CHILD (1995)

Prime Suspect: The Lost Child (TV) (1995; UK/USA, Colour, 101m) ∗∗∗½  pr. Paul Marcus; d. John Madden; w. Paul Billing; ph. David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck. Cast: Helen Mirren, Beatie Edney, Robert Glenister, Lesley Sharp, Tracy Keating, Richard Hawley, Jack Ellis, David Phelan, Stuart Wilson, John Benfield, Tony Rohr, Mark Bazeley, Chris Brailsford.  Supt. Tennison orchestrates a search for an abducted baby, but events take a turn for the worst when personal emotions cause complications. Emotive and dark episode due to its themes of child abduction and paedophilia. Again, the performances are uniformly excellent – notably Glenister as the prime suspect in question. Mirren continues to give a commanding portrayal of her career detective. The hostage resolution is tense and well-staged. Only some heavy-handed posturing in the script detracts from an otherwise excellent mystery drama. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT 3 (1993)

Prime Suspect 3 (1993; UK; Colour; 207m) ∗∗∗½  pr. Paul Marcus; d. David Drury; w. Lynda La Plante; ph. David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Tom Bell, David Thewlis, Peter Capaldi, Struan Rodger, Mark Strong, Terrence Hardiman, Andrew Woodall, Richard Hawley, Philip Wright, Mark Drewry, John Benfield, Terence Harvey, Ciarán Hinds, Kelly Hunter.  Assigned to a Vice squad, Detective Jane Tennison investigates a child murder and discovers a sinister link to the police. Another intricately plotted crime drama in this quality series. It lacks the intensity of the first two stories, but the controversial subject matter and political manoevering helped by excellent performances all round make for another well-made mystery. [18]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT 2 (1992)

Prime Suspect 2 (TV) (1992; UK; Colour; 203m) ∗∗∗∗  pr.  Paul Marcus; d. John Strickland; w. Allan Cubitt; ph. Ken Morgan, David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Colin Salmon, John Benfield, Jack Ellis, Craig Fairbrass, George Harris, Richard Hawley, Philip Wright, Ian Fitzgibbon, Andrew Tiernan, Lloyd McGuire, Stephen Boxer, Fraser James, Jenny Jules, Matt Bardock. When a body is found in the backyard of a home in an Afro-Caribbean neighborhood of London, DCI Jane Tennison (Mirren) has to tread carefully in her investigation because of the racial tension surrounding unsolved crimes in the region.  This first sequel is another intense tale, although marginally less successful than the original – mainly down to occasional heavy-handed treatment of the racial politics and a more straight-forward mystery plot. There is also a dose of internal politics to add spice to the pot. Mirren is again excellent and the support cast of cops, victims and suspects is strong and authentic. Another fine axample of TV crime drama at its best. [18]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT (1991)

Image result for prime suspect 1 dvdPrime Suspect (1991; UK;  Colour; 207m) ∗∗∗∗∗  pr. Don Leaver; d. Christopher Menaul; w. Lynda La Plante; ph. Ken Morgan; m. Stephen Warbeck.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Tom Bell, John Benfield, John Bowe, Zoë Wanamaker, Gary Whelan, Craig Fairbrass, Jack Ellis, John Forgeham, Mossie Smith, Ian Fitzgibbon, Andrew Tiernan, Philip Wright, Richard Hawley, Mark Spalding.  Jane Tennison (Mirren) is a Detective Chief Inspector assigned to Southampton Row police station in Central London. She is repeatedly passed over for major cases but, following the death of a Senior Investigating Officer she is given the opportunity to take over his investigation which involves the brutal murder of a young girl. The girl’s body has been badly mutilated, and her hands have been tied behind her back. Forensic evidence puts a suspect in the frame. Thoroughly absorbing modern TV classic of the crime genre. This unsettling battle of wits between key suspect (Bowe), who denies all charges, and Mirren’s determined cop makes for riveting watching. The story is brilliantly directed and the script is exceptional, making this an undisputed classic. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT 1973 (2017)

Prime Suspect 1973 (TV) (2017; UK; Colour 6 x 47m) ∗∗∗½  pr.  Rhonda Smith; d. David Caffrey; w. Lynda La Plante, Glen Laker; ph. Julian Court; m. Carly Paradis; ed. Stuart Gazzard, Malcolm Crowe.  Cast: Stefanie Martini, Sam Reid, Blake Harrison, Alun Armstrong, Andrew Brooke, Daniel Ezra, Jessica Gunning, Joshua Hill, Gordon Lang, Tommy McDonnell, Ruth Sheen, Lex Shrapnel, Jay Taylor, Rosie Day. The story of 22-year-old Jane Tennison’s first days in the police force, in which she endured flagrant sexism before being thrown in at the deep end with a murder enquiry. Great period setting and competent production and technical values make this a perfectly acceptable pre-cursor to the original series. Martini may lack Mirren’s magnetic screen presence, but she equips hereslf well and the strong supporting cast also add value. The script was adapted from LaPlante’s novel “Tennison”, and is an impressive prequel to Prime Suspect which aired from 1991-2006 starring Helen Mirren. [15]