Koch Vision // 2005 // 340 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // April 26th, 2006
"So we get this idea of the damaged personality as intrinsically wicked, something we have no control over. And received wisdom tells us that evil comes from Satan, rather than man, and unlike man, evil never sleeps. But whatever evil is, it is not external to us: It's a choice." -- Dr. Tony Hill
Television is often considered a lesser medium than film, as though it were a dumping ground for talent not good enough for the movies. As a result, many television producers are satisfied with lesser material, content that would be intolerable on the big screen. That's what makes Wire in the Blood so refreshing. It's a thriller series that has the self respect, intelligence, and production values of a feature film. This third season proves to be even better than the first two, thanks to some slick new widescreen cinematography and additional character depth.
Season three contains four episode, each running about 85 minutes long. The focus this time around is on very atypical serial killers, cases that tax the skills of criminal psychologist Tony Hill (Robson Green, Touching Evil, Separate Lies) and Detective Inspector Carol Jordan (Hermione Norris).
Young children have been turning up dead in locations around the city. At first, the murders seem completely unconnected, but the police quickly discover that all of the boys had been abused. Someone has been murdering abused boys, and all evidence points towards the leader of a local haven for troubled youths.
* "Bad Seed"
When a famous, self-proclaimed cured serial killer is released, he seeks Hill's help in starting his new life. Hill questions whether "Mack the Knife" is indeed cured. His suspicion increases when a series of new murders follow the killer's old MO.
* "Nothing but the Night"
Bodies are once again piling up in Bradfield, and the murders are obviously connected. It goes against everything that Hill has learned, though, because the style of murders are completely different. With the killer moving so fast, the police will need a lucky break to catch up with him.
A skilled sniper has begun killing local citizens, striking precisely from long distances. The only problem is, he seems to be picking his victims entirely at random. With a new murder every couple days, the media and police are in a panic. How do you track down a serial killer when you can't build a profile from the victims? To make matters worse, Hill has been diagnosed with a serious brain tumor. It has started to affect his performance, and he is quickly running out of time.
Each time I've written a review of a season of Wire in the Blood, I include one minor complaint that would make the series even better than it already is. Each subsequent season has solved that problem. For the first series, I complained that breaking up the two connected episodes needlessly broke the tension. When the second season arrived, the episodes were connected. My only minor complaint with the second season was the tight fullscreen cinematography. I argued that widescreen composition would make the series more cinematic. Well, the third season has arrived, and I have once again been pandered to (at least I will pretend they are doing all of this to keep my happy).
At any rate, this small improvement has once again raised the bar for television dramas. Hill and Jordan continue to be two of the most fascinating television characters ever, and the focus is even more on these two characters in this third season. Instead of the former emphasis on professional responsibility, we now spend more time looking at the dual nature of each of these characters. Tony Hill is great at criminal profiling and questioning, but a failure when it comes to his own social connections. Carol Jordan also struggles socially, but it's because of her fractured identity as both a cop and a woman. These dichotomies in the characters are mirrored in the show as a whole, which searches to understand why humans can break down and become murderers.
Because of the commitment to a longer running time and deeper character development, Wire in the Blood is aimed at a more sophisticated audience than most crime series. It doesn't have the slick, glossy explanations of CSI, nor does it have the action of the average police drama. It's also not afraid to use clinical terminology and complex theories. Now, I'm not saying it's hard to follow or understand, but some television requires dedication and complete attention. This is one of those series. Wire in the Blood is smarter, tougher, and more satisfying than we expect from television. It also never spends too long on its characters' lives. Many drama series are simply soap operas dropped into a different location to fool people who hate the idea of watching soap operas, but Wire in the Blood never falls into that trap. These are fascinating characters, and their relationship to their work is what makes the personal fit into these stories.
Thanks to the new widescreen format, the discs are even more impressive this time around. The transfer is much stronger, gaining some detail without losing the gritty look of the series. The Dolby Surround transfer is standard, but has a fair amount of depth when required. There aren't any extras this time around, but I don't think we need the actor profiles the third time around.
I don't really have anything else to say. I wrote more about the series itself in my last two reviews, and it still applies here. This season delivers once again, serving up four great episodes of one of the best television series I have ever seen, If you like suspense, thrillers, police dramas, or just darn good stories, Wire in the Blood is worth hunting down.
If this is the last season with the great dynamic between Hill and Jordan, I will be truly disappointed. Still, I can't hold this season guilty for something that hasn't happened yet.
Review content copyright © 2006 Joel Pearce; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Koch Vision
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 340 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* DVD Verdict Review of Season One
* DVD Verdict Review of Season Two