Murder in Mind - The Complete First Series (2001)
By: Devon B. on July 16, 2009  | 
DVD
Madman (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 411 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Creator: Anthony Horowitz
Starring: David Suchet, Gillian Kearney, Steve McFadden, Keith Allen
Country: UK
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
I wanted to like Murder in Mind. I really did. I like a lot of BBC stuff. I like Madman as a label. I like the idea of a series that focuses on the psychology that drives someone to commit murder. I just didn't like the show itself very much.

The episodes vary wildly in terms of quality, with no reappearing characters, so I'll go through each one briefly:

Episode one is called Teacher and is about a respectable headmaster who makes the mistake of trying to pick up a rent boy. When the pro gets aggro, the headmaster kills him and flees, but has left some evidence behind. I wasn't sure what to make of this one, given the murder comes within the first few minutes, but there is a bit of a build up to what might happen. It's not terrible, but not terribly exciting either.

Flame is about a fireman who finds out his wife his having an affair. He wants to end it with her, but is afraid she'll get too much in the divorce settlement. A stranger contacts him with a possible solution, but whatever shall he do? I thought Teacher was a bit slow and obvious, but this one is a by the numbers snoozer.

Things picked up a bit in Motive, mostly because it wasn't immediately clear exactly what was going on from the first few minutes of the episode. In this one a couple murder their babysitter for no apparent reason. Well, the reason is certainly guessable, but it's not as easy to spot this time. I didn't mind this episode too much, even after my partner pointed out the woman playing the murderous wife was Susannah Harker from Pride and Prejudice. Not a lot of surprises, but at least there was a bit of mystery.

But anything picked up in Motive is dropped so fully I didn't want to finish the series after seeing Mercy. A doctor helps his sick wife euthanise herself. In the intro scene you'll know EXACTLY what's going on, what's going to happen, why it's happened, and then have to sit for the next hour as the events very slowly unfold. There's a lot of exposition and set up, but it doesn't actually add anything to the plot, which is pretty boring anyway. On top of that, this episode requires the most suspension of disbelief because the doctor is appearing on a local chat show while the case is still very much open. To suspend that disbelief, SOMETHING needs to be going on, and nothing really happens in this one. It's worse than an episode of The Bill.

The series pulls itself back up with Vigilante, but not enough to really redeem the previous episode. Three guys decide to go have a persuasive chat with a man they believe is a paedophile. It ends in tears. The three men try to cover their tracks, but one is having doubts about what they've done, especially when more information is brought to light about their victim. Not any surprises this time, either, but by this point I was expecting that.

By far the best episode of the series is Neighbours, which benefits greatly from the presence of Kevin Whately of Inspector Morse and Lewis. Also appearing in this episode is John Thomson of Cold Feet fame, and if you're a fan who always wanted to see him in the altogether, you're in luck. Thomson plays a noisy, boorish neighbour who's just moved in next to Whately. Whately becomes increasingly paranoid about the activities of his disruptive neighbour, and starts spying on him and keeping a video diary of his grievances. This episode features much more humour than previous episodes, which is a big plus in the entertainment factor, and by the end has become so silly I kept expecting the Cryptkeeper to turn up. It may be clear what's going to happen in this episode, but at least it's amusing while it makes its way to the end. Plus, there're boobies.

Slightly less obvious than most of the episodes, but more obvious than Motive, is Sleeper, another okay episode. A young woman has trouble sleeping, at least partially because she has a tendency to get up and wander around while asleep. Her relationship dissolves under suspicion of her partner's infidelity, and things get ugly when she wakes up with a bloody hammer in her bed. She then has to try to work out what, if anything, she's done in a somnambulistic state. There's a red herring in this episode, but, as usual, you'll have worked out what's happening long before the reveal.

Overall the series is well acted, but the lazy scripts don't make for compulsive viewing most of the time. If Neighbours is on watch that episode, but the rest would only be for BBC crime genre diehards. It's really more tele for the older rellies.
Video
Despite being made way back in 2001, the series was clearly filmed on higher definition equipment, and looks far better than the BBC shows of my youth. There's a bit of video grain, and a few spots, but otherwise this is a good presentation.
Audio
A 2.0 English track is completely serviceable. Wouldn't need a 5.1 anyway as this is mostly talking heads.
Extra Features
The set comes with a booklet with some production notes, an overview on each episode and a brief statement from one of the stars of each episode.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
An interesting idea marred by lacklustre story telling, Murder in Mind is banal. The MA rating only really applies to one episode, so don't get your hopes up there, either. I thought I was going to hate the series overall by the time I reached Mercy, but Neighbours cancelled that one out, leaving the overall series seeming average. The episodes range from one to four Australias in quality, but the overall series is watchable, if a bit boring.

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