Maybe it's because the heat index is in the triple digits, but Appellate Judge Amanda DeWees can't think of a wintry blurb for this excellent detective series.
Our reviews of A Touch Of Frost: Season Two (published July 13th, 2004), A Touch Of Frost: Season Three (published September 29th, 2004), A Touch Of Frost: Season Four (published February 23rd, 2005), A Touch Of Frost: Season Five (published June 1st, 2005), A Touch Of Frost: Season 13 (published April 23rd, 2008), A Touch Of Frost: Season 14 (published July 29th, 2009), and A Touch Of Frost: Seasons 11 And 12 (published December 20th, 2006) are also available.
Mullett: It's one obsession after another with you, isn't it?
After the intense drama of the previous season, Season Six of popular British mystery series A Touch of Frost is a relief—or a letdown, depending on how you look at it. As always, the cast is excellent, from David Jason as Inspector Frost right down to the guest actors, and the plotting and character development of the stories continue to be high quality on the whole. Nonetheless, this season is lighter-weight than the previous one, and although that makes it less emotionally draining, it also means that sometimes it seems to be coasting.
As with most previous seasons, this one comprises four episodes, each approximately 100 minutes.
• "Appendix Man"
This episode shows off A Touch of Frost's virtuosic plotting skills,
with lots of surprising revelations and tangled evidence. The complicated
fingerprint mystery alone is absorbing and leads to an unexpected denouement.
The return of Hazel Wallace (Caroline Harker), a former uniformed officer who
has been promoted to detective sergeant, is welcome; it's amusing to note that
she is experienced enough with Frost's quirks to gracefully take a back seat on
her own investigation when he seizes control. This is the best episode of Season
Six; sadly, it's all downhill from here.
• "One Man's Meat"
Of the two main stories that comprise this episode, the one concerning the
vanished health inspector is the more compelling, in part due to the strong
performances; the inspector's wife in particular is a strong character, and we
sympathize with her as she tries to convince the dismissive police officers that
her husband's disappearance is worthy of investigation. The investigation of the
homeless girl's death leads us down the expected false pathways, but the ending
hardly seems worth the journey. On the plus side, watching Frost grow to
appreciate his unwanted canine partner (who shares his dislike of Mullett) is
• "Private Lives"
We all know by now that the comfortable facade of suburban life actually
hides sordid personal secrets, so this episode is treading already well-trodden
ground. Even the side plot about the resentful neighbors fomenting a lynching is
old hat, and not particularly convincing; these gents are more believable
watering their window boxes than threatening anyone with brute force. There's
some worthwhile social commentary in the depiction of the war veteran who finds
himself unable to re-engage with life outside the military, but this too is a
motif we've seen before. Surprisingly, the execution doesn't do much to redeem
all this well-worn material.
• "Keys to the Car"
It's become a bit old by now to see Frost butting heads with a strong-willed
woman in authority; his clashes with Anne Cremond are thus rather predictable. I
also found myself empathizing with this character when her taste for exotic
underclothes makes her the butt—oops, I mean "subject"—of
jokes among her inferiors. She's strict but not as ruthless as some of the
professional women Frost has encountered, and I ended up feeling indignant that
Frost and the other male officers respected her so little…which, I'm sure,
was not at all the intended reaction. However, Frost does show appreciation for
the mysterious Dutch woman (Manouk van der Meulen) who provides unexpected
assistance with the investigation and brings welcome glamour into the usually
dreary setting. The episode ends in a terrific, tense stand-off that makes it
worth enduring the less than gripping buildup.
Audiovisual quality for this series seems to get a bit better with each successive release, which may reflect the decreasing age of the materials. In any event, the picture here is very sharp and clear, as is audio, a robust 2.0 stereo mix that could almost pass for surround. Although the volume of dialogue sometimes drops beneath the comprehensible level, this is apparently due to the actors' lack of projection and not any fluctuation in the soundtrack itself. As is so often the case with this series, there are no extras for this set.
Fans of Frost will probably enjoy this season, even though it isn't as emotionally powerful as some previous ones. After all, even so-so A Touch of Frost is still better than most comparable American series. However, those new to the series should probably start with one of the earlier seasons to get a better sense of just how fine this show can be.
The court will let this season off lightly; even though it's not Inspector Frost's best work, he's definitely someone we want to keep on the force, and we're confident that he will regain his former excellence.
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