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The legendary Helen Mirren detective series hits high-def, but this isn't quite the definitive edition Prime Suspect fans have been waiting for...
Acorn Media / 1500 Minutes / 1991-2007 / Unrated / Street Date: August 27, 2013
One of the more influential series of programming to have come out of Britain in the last twenty years, Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection is the kind of collection that will leave TV-on-BD devotees (especially Anglophilic ones) frothing at the mouth. Adult, mature storytelling, finessed and intuitive direction and the kind of cast that leaves one weak in the knees, Prime Suspect was once the show that critics couldn't shut up about but viewers couldn't find anywhere: now the tides have turned.
While Acorn Media's seven-disc collection isn't state-of-the-art in any notable way, the fact that one can now start at the beginning of Prime Suspect and ride it all the way through its nearly 17-year (!) span is nothing short of a revelation. And time has been unbelievably kind to Prime Suspect - with Helen Mirren love at a fever pitch (The Queen is still popular, even the braindead fun of R.E.D. 2 is making money), it's impossible not to resign to Prime Suspect's grisly, bloody charms.
In fact, that's the only thing my colleague Jaclyn would tell me about the series before I dove into it. She continues to avow that she'd follow Helen anywhere she decided to go, but while she applauds Mirren's work in Prime Suspect, she does so from a distance: before CSI turned groady on-screen props into a primetime mainstay, the episodes of Prime Suspect are seriously hardcore, not shying away from nudity (not the good kind) and blood (like, a lot of it).
But this is Prime Suspect's real value - its presentation of the sexism detective Jane Tennison finds in her workplace and how her cool, calm demeanor gives her a professional, mature edge in the face of the kind of crimes that would make even forensic analysts cringe allows for Tennison's character to take on a regal, larger-than-life realism. There is very little glamour in the Prime Suspect universe, yet Mirren wears the grittiness well - her presence here is absolutely epic in scope. Over the course of nine mysteries in Prime Suspect offer an almost novelistic investigation of a woman trying her damnedest to juggle her work, the evil than men do and her life that constantly seems to fray at all points.
It's a mammoth performance, and even though this set won't push your Blu-ray player to the max, Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection could very well be the must-own TV-on-BD event of the year.