Acorn Media // 2007 // 411 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 30th, 2012
Mum in charge.
More British mystery-slinging in The Commander. This time, it's headlined by a steel-strong female commandant, Clare Blake (Amanda Burton), who takes over the elite Homicide and Serious Crime division, which indeed deals with serious crimes. She makes her arrival resonate with a gruff demeanor that initially turns off her number two, DCI Doug James (Mark Lewis Jones), but he eventually comes around to realize she's got the goods.
Four mysteries, running a total of 411 minutes:
* "The Devil You Know"
The perfectly preserved corpse of a two-year-old girl, positioned upsettingly like a porcelain doll, is found inside an oil drum. The secrets behind the crime are buried within an abandoned psychiatric institution -- and things get more complicated when the mother of one of the primary suspects turns up brutally murdered.
A wealthy investor is found dead, floating facedown in a pool, and it's revealed he had been defrauding his clients. At the center of the investigation: a collection of women who may or may not be conspirators.
* "Windows of the Soul"
A beloved neighborhood priest lies in a pool of blood, stabbed 29 times. The priest's affinity for helping troubled young men immediately triggers suspicion of child abuse, but the truth behind the slaying is not what anyone expects.
This super-sized episode opens with a murder that may have been committed by a former investigator. As the investigation proceeds, DCI James is consumed with personal affairs -- the birth of his son. But when the newborn disappears, all hell breaks loose.
Keep it coming Acorn! My mother is deeply appreciative! Actually, no matter what your age might be, if you're a fan of gritty crime procedurals, The Commander will scratch that itch. Just look at the opening case: a dead toddler! Oof...Aside from "Fraduster," these tales are dark as hell, filled with bloody corpses and more than a few F-bombs.
The best part is the hard stuff isn't exploitative; it fits The Commander's dark tone and the actors are all top-shelf, so nothing feels unearned. At the forefront is Amanda Burton who's great as the lead -- tough, demanding, vulnerable, and strangely attractive in that MILF-who-will-absolutely-discipine-you-if-the-siuation-calls-for-it kind of way.
Good work from Acorn, delivering a clean standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, joined by an adequate Dolby 2.0 stereo mix. Extras are text-only stuff, including an introduction from Lynda La Plante and biographies of Amanda Burton and La Plante.
Not Guilty. Robust investigative thrills all around.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 411 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Text Features