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Case Number 22618: Small Claims Court

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Without Motive

Acorn Media // 2000 // 600 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 27th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson ate a coffee cake muffin yesterday without motive.

The Charge

A detective's desperate hunt for a serial killer.

The Case

This decade-old crime series from the U.K. serves up two seasons worth of across-the-pond investigation. Each series contains six episodes and involves one contiguous case.

That case: a serial killer is on the loose butchering women and there doesn't appear to be a connection (hence the title Without Motive). Dubbed "The Bristol Murderer," the perpetrator has the community frozen with fear and the authorities paralyzed with futility. Caught in the middle of all of it is Detective Constable Jack Mowbray (Ross Kemp), a big-shot investigator who's feeling the shockwaves of the killing spree at home, as his family begins falling apart (his marital indiscretions don't help either). Things aren't much better at work as the infectiveness of the department in catching the killer leads to intense political pressure from above and a series of leads that go dead. As the bodies pile up, so do the questions and Mowbray will have to call upon all of his stocky, bald cop bravado to bring this one home.

Ross Kemp is awesome in this as a brooding, flawed detective with a snarl and a penchant for taking a dump on authority. He's not quite the nuclear weapon Vic Mackey is, but you can see the seeds there. Mowbray is a compelling point man and Without Motive succeeds because it takes a comprehensive look at the case and the characters. Mowbray takes his work home with him and as a result some of the most compelling material happens outside of the precinct.

If the household drama doesn't interest you as much, rest assured there is plenty of crime-fighting to indulge in, and it's all done extremely well. The fact that the show is concerned with one extended case and not a series of one-offs makes it feel more like a feature film or miniseries than anything else. This way, the writers can get into every angle of the investigation, with the infighting of the brass just as interesting as the detectives pounding the pavement.

Acorn delivers another solid release, rendering each episode in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and 2.0 stereo. Series One and Series Two look different, stylistically, with the former coming across as more a static TV show and the latter adopting a hand-held approach with a grittier cinematography. No extras.

The Verdict

Without Motive is a procedural of the highest order and worth a look for anyone interested in intense cop drama. Not Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Acorn Media
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Crime
• Drama
• Foreign
• Mystery
• Television
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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