Case Number 26012: Small Claims Court


Acorn Media // 1972 // 1002 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 25th, 2013

The Charge

Time-sink mystery watching at its time-sinkiest.

The Case

In the mid-'70s, PBS's Masterpiece Theatre imported these hefty, feature-length mysteries, based off the writings of Dorothy K. Sayers. Ian Carmichael stars as the titular character, Lord Peter Wimsey, an animated private investigator who tracks down ne'er-do-wells in 1920s Britain.

Here now is the complete collection and it's a doozy. Though there are only five mysteries (in two sets), they boast monster runtimes. In fact, "feature-length" undersells the girth of the mysteries; clocking in at a minimum of three hours each, these are feature-length only if said feature was Dune. Six discs, total:

Set One
"Clouds of Witness" Lord Peter Wimsey must untangle the mystery of his brother-in-law's murder and clear the name of his own brother, who's been fingered for the crime.

"The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club"
What a polite way to describe a double murder: "unpleasantness." Wimsey is on the clock as he gets to the bottom of the twin deaths of a pair of siblings and negotiates the fallout of the fortune they leave behind.

Set Two
"Murder Must Advertise"
Lord Wimsey takes on undercover work, infiltrating a marketing agency to investigate the death of an employee. While there, he gets wrapped up in all manner of scheme and betrayal.

"Five Red Herrings"
You know you're dealing with lengthy mystery when the victim doesn't die until the end of the first 45-minute episode. The corpse belongs to a local artist that no one likes and it falls to Wimsey to work though the myriad of potential killers.

"The Nine Tailors"
Wimsey is languishing in a small village following a car wreck and kills time by unraveling a long-time conspiracy.

Grand total: 1,002 minutes. I was tempted to write that The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries are not "for the faint of heart," but let's be honest: that's exactly who they're for. With that much runtime, this is the perfect collection for your grandmother. The plot unspools at about as easygoing pace as you can envision, with plenty of time dedicated to developing characters and letting Ian Carmichael do his thing. If anything, these mammoth offerings aren't for those with fully-functioning hearts, eager to move on to the next thing and not interested in spending more than 40 minutes tops for resolution. It is a dated construct, sure, but not without its benefits -- or its audience.

Acorn's DVDs deliver full frame transfers that look their age, stereo mixes and a pair of old interviews with Ian Carmichael.

The Verdict

Not guilty, but this is a collection for a very narrow target audience.

Review content copyright © 2013 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Acorn Media
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* English (SDH)

Running Time: 1002 Minutes
Release Year: 1972
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Interviews

* IMDb