E1 Entertainment // 2008 // 344 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // August 7th, 2009
Enter the mind of a serial killer.
In many ways, Wire in the Blood strikes me as the anti-Cracker. Both feature brilliant-but-flawed forensic psychologists, but where Cracker's Fitz is "too much" -- too social, too risky, too drunk -- Wire's Tony is often too little -- too unaware of the world around him, too unwilling to risk himself emotionally. The differences don't end there, however. Cracker is relentlessly character-driven, constantly pushing Fitz's relationships forward, with much less focus on the crimes he solves (in fact I can only recall a few specific crimes from the series entire run, while I can easily remember the twists in Fitz's relationship with Penhaligon). In contrast, Wire in the Blood seems more focused on the crimes, and Tony's relationships are developed only in fits and starts. This approach makes for an alternately fascinating and frustrating show that has apparently been cut off in its prime.
Tony Hill (Robson Green, Touching Evil is a brilliant forensic psychologist who has tremendous insight into the criminal mind. With the aid of Inspector Fielding (Simone Lahbib, Bad Girls), Tony investigates horrific crimes by getting inside the head of the perpetrator. All four episodes of Wire in the Blood: The Complete Sixth Season are included on four discs in this release:
* "Unnatural Vices"
When a young Kurdish woman is killed, the police assume it was an honor killing, but after investigating Tony finds a more twisted mind behind the crimes.
* "Falls the Shadow"
Tony's colleagues in psychology are being murdered in a ritualistic fashion, and Tony seems like the prime suspects until he discovers a possible link with a series of prostitute murders.
* "From the Defeated"
Tony must investigate a series of murders where each perpetrator appears to become the next victim, with a shared gun as the only link.
* "The Dead Land"
Someone is dumping the bodies of the homeless in Bradfield, and Tony must figure out why, even as he's threatened by his own stalker.
This is apparently the last season of Wire in the Blood. ITV has elected not to renew the show and that is most unfortunate. With these four episodes it seemed liked D.I. Fielding was finally feeling integrated into the cast and, although this season wasn't quite perfect, it felt like a springboard for something bigger and better, like the next series was going to be absolutely fantastic. Instead, we're left with a season heading decidedly in the right direction. The writers accomplish this for the most part by involving Tony more explicitly in the crimes he's investigating. "Falls the Shadow" puts Tony in the suspect's position, while "The Dead Land" shows Tony under threat from a mind which might be the equal of his own. Although the ideas of detective as suspect or putting the detective in danger are not new, Tony's unique response to each situation makes for compelling drama.
I also love watching House, M.D., but it does get occasionally grating that just when a problem seems impossible, House has a little "aha!" moment. It's a testament to Hugh Laurie's acting ability that this moment always seems natural for the character, but as a device it gets a little tired. This is, however, one aspect that is not overused in Wire in the Blood, and its general absence shows the series' chief strength: Robson Green as Tony Hill. Because Dr. Hill is constantly thinking, shifting in his moods, attitudes, and theories, he never really has time for an "aha!" moment because his perspective on his cases is always changing. This keeps the crimes fresh even as the solution approaches. This generally unstable nature also makes Tony an interesting character outside of his talents as a forensic psychologist. His ever-shifting moods make him hard to pin down, and it's the mystery of what's going on inside his head that keep the show compelling.
As with previous DVD editions of Wire in the Blood we get a solid technical presentation but no extras. The video on these discs is strong, with the show's muted colors coming through clearly, with no serious compression or mastering problems. The stereo mix is simple, but gets the job done with the dialogue and effects.
As I mentioned in my opening statement, Wire in the Blood always seems to be more focused on the crimes than on Tony. That trend continues into this season. While there's some obvious tension between Tony and Fielding, it is only developed in spurts. Sometimes this technique can increase the tension and make for better drama. I don't think that applies to Wire because the personal stuff between Tony and Fielding is so haphazard and inconsistent that it gets to be distracting rather than interesting. I'm not saying they should immediately jump in the sack together, but rather more attention should be paid to developing their personal relationship more consistently. Since it looks like there won't be a chance for that to happen with future episodes, we're left with the frustrating glimpse afforded by the few tender moments in this season. The episodes included here show the tantalizing possibility between Tony and Fielding, but never quite deliver on that promise.
Considering this is the show's swan song, some kind of extras would have been nice. A few retrospective interviews, some input from Val McDermid, author of the source novels, on the impact of the show on her novels, or a commentary or two.
The sixth season of Wire in the Blood is an intriguing entry in the continuing adventures of Dr. Tony Hill. Fans of previous seasons will find much to love in these four episodes, and anyone who enjoys dramas involving forensic psychology is urged to start with the first season of this remarkable show.
Although it could be cited for lack of extras, Wire in the Blood: The Complete Sixth Season is not guilty.
Review content copyright © 2009 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 344 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated