Judge Gordon Sullivan finds life much more comfortable below suspicion.
Based on the best-selling novels by Lynda La Plante.
Anna Travis (Kelly Reilly, Sherlock Holmes) returns for the three episodes of Above Suspicion: Set 2, fresh from a promotion to detective inspector, and once again she's under the direction of Detective Superintendent James Langton (Ciaran Hinds, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). This time they're investigating the death of Langton's friend, chasing a drug dealer who's changed his face (with plastic surgery) after introducing a deadly new drug on the streets.
The third series of Above Suspicion is in pretty much every way a continuation of what came before. We have a scrappy (and attractive) female detective, her tough-as-nails boss, and a mystery to solve. This time the mystery is complicated by a personal connection between Langton and the deceased, but it's still very much Travis' show. The show also continues the tentative relationship between the two leads. Both are obviously attracted to the other but neither can say anything . The tension is thick and adds a compelling subtext to the show's mystery.
The series grows Travis' character a bit—she's a little more confident as a detective inspector (though still a woman and young for the job). Her wardrobe is still a touch ridiculous but this time out she wears it with a bit more spring in her step.
The mystery this time out is notable for how many genre tropes it throws into the plot. We've got the "Detective is friends with the deceased," we've got the "Drug dealer introduces a new drug," and even the "Bad guy gets plastic surgery to evade capture." There's even a requisite downbeat ending to give the show a bit of grit.
Once again, Above Suspicion gets a solid DVD release. The three episodes included here are on a single disc, with ample room to avoid compression artefacts. The show has a slightly gray, gritty look to it and that feeling is kept with these transfers. Detail is fine, and black levels are deep enough and consistent. The stereo audio keeps dialogue audible, with a little bit of separation in the stereo field. Subtitles are included for those who have trouble with British accents.
Extras start with a 10-minute featurette looking at the making of the show and a set of featurettes that combine interviews with various cast/crew members with behind the scenes footage. There's also interview with scribe Lynda La Plante. We also get a photo gallery of stills from the set, cast filmographies, and a text bio of Lynda.
If I had my druthers, Above Suspicion: Set 2 would make a matched set with the first one and include two series of the show. Set 1 included six episodes comprising two series, while this set only includes three episodes of the additional six that have been broadcast. There's been a slight reduction in price on this set to make up for the smaller amount of content, but it still would have been preferable to wait a bit and make this set current and comparable to the first one.
I like the chemistry between Hinds and Reilly; it's what sets the show apart in some ways (though cop-on-cop romances are pretty standard). There's something so opposites-attract about the two of them that it works. With that said, though, it's getting a bit ridiculous between them. This faint whiff of the ridiculous extends to the rest of the show as well. We've seen the drug dealer plot before and there's just a hair too much serendipity as opposed to detection in the plot to make it balanced or believable.
Watching this set of Above Suspicion, it's easier to see the things that don't quite work. I'm willing to forgive the slightly unbelievable plot (it's a staple of the police procedural), but Above Suspicion lacks the kind of arc that makes a show like Luther so compelling. Aside from Reilly's unseen promotion, there's little sense of growth in her character. More significantly, the show tries to make her relationship with Langton the connecting factor throughout the series, and that's both not enough and a little too cliché to be effective. Future series really need to raise the stakes and give us more of a sense of Reilly to be truly effective.
Above Suspicion wins points just for being different in the male-dominated detective world. However, it loses some points for getting increasingly unbelievable. Fans will want to at least rent this disc, and the solid presentation/extras combo makes it worth a purchase for those who enjoy this particular series.
Above Suspicion is just that—not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
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