Posted: 09/01/2008

 

Trial and Retribution – Season One

(1997)

by Del Harvey




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This British crime series was created and produced by Lynda La Plante, best known for her critically acclaimed Prime Suspect series starring Helen Mirren. It first ran in Britain in 1997 as a series of eight two-hour specials and, in similar fashion to its American counterpart Law & Order, presented the most unpleasant of crimes, focusing primarily on the capture of the perpetrators of said crime and the enthralling court trial that followed. The show was differentiated by its extensive use of multiple images, sometimes presenting as many as four different subplots playing out simultaneously within the same episode.

The show’s very first case was a brutal child murder. Five-year-old Julie Anne disappeared from a council estate and a search was initiated by the police. But the girl was soon found dead, her corpse shoved roughly inside a pipe. Detective Superintendent Mike Walker (David Hayman) lead the murder investigation along with Pat North (Kate Buffrey). Impeding their progress is the fact that there is only one key witness and one suspect, and neither one is a slam dunk.

The program was originally presented as a series of one-off two hour specials, but in 2006 became a short-run regular series and continues to air to this day.

Also starring in the Season One discs are simon Callow, Rhys Ifans, James Wilby, Iain Glen, and Richard E. Grant.

This series is, in some ways, superior to Law & Order thanks to its depth of realism and emotion, on par with La Plante’s earlier series, Prime Suspect. In addition to showing the difficult and arduous tasks at hand for any criminal justice system, the show also spares little in revealing the careless mistakes which can often jeopardize justice.

Season One will be released on September 30, 2008, and includes the first four two-part episodes at approximately 200 minutes each. The DVD includes an interview with and biography of creator Lynda La Plante, and a glossary of terms commonly used by the British police force.

Highly recommended.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.



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