Acorn Media // 2012 // 140 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // February 15th, 2014
From Lynda La Plante, the creator of Prime Suspect.
There is always a complex relationship between student and teacher, mentor and mentee (or parent and child, even). At its best, the relationship is one where self-sufficiency is learned and the student transcends the need for a master. This can be a difficult process emotionally, and it's one of the reasons that adolescence is so fraught for both parent and child. Often, though, our stories ignore the difficulty of this transition. Either gurus stay gurus (I'm thinking of someone like Gil Grissom on CSI, who had to leave rather than transcend his role as the wise old man of the show), or they are superficially defeated as the difficult is translated directly into some battle (this is the tactic of kung-fu movies). Above Suspicion, however, has been slowly moving towards dealing with this difficult period in the relationship between its two leads. Above Suspicion: Set 3, including all three parts of "Silent Scream" finds the show mining the different trajectories of its characters for dramatic impact.
Silent Scream opens with three different threads. The first is the murder of actress Amanda Delaney (Joanna Vanderham, What Maisie Knew). Since she's the darling of the tabloids, her case needs to be solved fast. Unsurprisingly, they hand the case to DCS Langton (Ciarán Hinds, Munich). Langton, however, has just been passed over for promotion, so he has something to prove. Likewise, rising star DI Travis (Kelly Reilly, Flight) is about to sit her promotion exam, so a swift resolution to the case can only benefit her as well. The pair must put the past behind them to ensure their future in the department.
Above Suspicion has never tried to be the most original cop show on the market. Obviously based on Lynda La Plante's success with Prime Suspect, the show has similarly been dealing with an ambitious woman's experiences in the UK police force. However, despite four series of three episodes, the show has managed to keep the tension between Travis and Langton surprisingly strong. Though starting in familiar territory with the young, naïve Travis wanting to please the chauvinistic boss who happens to be her cop-dad's friend, the show has continually found ways to bring these characters together. This time around, the solution is to reverse their power dynamic a bit, with Travis the new rising star and Langton the passed-over old hand. It's an interesting choice that adds a layer of tension to a relationship that has grown increasingly complicated through four series.
This will, regrettably, be the final series for Above Suspicion. All things considered, it's a good place to stop given the relationship between Travis and Langton. Any further episodes and their dancing around one another would get totally absurd. This also reveals the series' biggest problem, which is that the individual mysteries take a backseat to the relationship between the investigators. That's pretty true for these episodes as well. The storyline of a tabloid star getting murdered isn't unfamiliar, and the way the investigation resolves itself is fine without being particularly original.
Above Suspicion: Set 3 demonstrates Acorn's usual level of attention to the series. To be clear, this is the third set but the fourth series (or season, to put it in American terms). Since Set 1 contained the first two series, there's a bit of a mismatch. The three episodes of this series look pretty good in these 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer. The show has the shot-on-PAL look, as if it was transferred to NTSC for American distribution. That gives the overall image a kind of sheen that's not bad but a bit noticeable. This also robs a bit of detail from the image, but overall it looks fine. Colors are intentionally muted, black levels are pretty deep, and digital artefacts aren't a serious problem. The show's stereo audio track keeps dialogue clear and well-balanced.
Extras start with a trio of interview-heavy featurettes that basically provide an overview of the cast. There's some behind-the-scenes footage included as well. Then we get a trio of interviews with Lynda La Plante, director Catherine Morshead, and producer Cherry Gould. A photo gallery rounds things out. It's an impressive collection for a comparatively little-known show, giving fans a peek into the minds of those working to bring Above Suspicion to light.
With Above Suspicion: Set 3, the show comes to a close. It ends on a strong note that fans will appreciate. Though hardly the most original investigation show on the air, Above Suspicion gets by on solid acting and a sturdy premise.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 140 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated