Second Sight: Complete Collection
by Jef Burnham
Available in one 5-DVD set from BFS Entertainment on February 9, 2010.
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This terrific BBC One mystery series blends elements of the traditional police drama with the seemingly supernatural phenomena that effect human perception. Clive Owen (Inside Man, Children of Men) stars as Detective Chief Inspector Ross Tanner, a homicide detective and head of an elite taskforce charged with solving high profile murders, is plagued by a rare degenerative disorder of the eyes that is leading to his eventual blindness. Convinced that he will be among the few victims of the virus attacking his eyes that spontaneously recover, Ross determines to remain on the force, concealing his impairment with the help of two members of his unit.
As the audience, we are often allowed to see events through Ross’s eyes as the virus stripping him of his sight progresses from the minor starlight vision that signals its arrival to Ross’s eventual, almost complete lack of vision. With these symptoms comes an interesting array of side effects from hallucinations of phantom entities to selective clarity in the presence of particular persons, all of which are relevant in some way or another to the solution of each case. These elements of the series give it a distinct air of near-supernaturalism akin to Twin Peaks (one of Ross’s team members even points out that aspects of their first case are “very Twin Peaks”), though all of the side effects of his blindness are indeed scientifically rooted, including the notably Twin Peaks-esque addition of the dwarf-like demon that haunts Ross’s dreams. Without the scientific possibilities allowed by the premise of Ross’s progressive blindness, the series would be superfluous in the sea of police mystery/dramas that flood the airwaves. As is, Second Sight makes for constantly stimulating viewing that builds in intensity to an explosive finale.
The major drawback of the series is that it is only 5 episodes in its entirety, but each episode has a running time of about 1 hour and 40 minutes, so it feels more like four feature-length films (the first two episodes being a two-part mystery) than a television series. Each episode is given its own disc in the set, which is tragically devoid of special features.
Second Sight is helmed by director Charles Beeson (Smallville, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, Supernatural) and costars include Michael Kitchen, who played the title role in another British mystery series, Foyle’s War; Claire Skinner (Bridget Jones’s Diary) and Stuart Wilson (Hot Fuzz, Lethal Weapon 3).
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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