Not satisfied with their sterling reputation as the home of the
world's best murder-mystery novelists, the British have done a nice
job of dominating the scene of television mystery series. The
long-running series A Touch of Frost (which finished up its
seven-year run in 2003) was a huge success with viewers in the UK and
should please U.S. fans of British mysteries as well.
A Touch of Frost: Season 3 contains four "feature-length"
episodes, each running an hour and 40 minutes. Essentially, they're
short TV-movies in a series, rather than what we might consider
episodes; there's enough time in each to develop a fairly complex
main plot, along with side plots and character development.
The episodes here are competently written and offer a reasonable
variety of plots, not just the standard fare of "murder most
foul." In "Appropriate Adults," Frost is on the trail
of a missing 8-year-old girl, while in "No Refuge" a string
of suspicious burglaries get the story in motion. The main plot of
"Dead Man One" centers around the strange collapse of a
star soccer player, who may have been the victim of a brutal kick to
the head... or maybe something else. Not that murder is skipped over
here, as it's the central crime in "Quarry," when an
animal-rights activist is murdered, and "Dead Man One"
opens with a mysterious corpse fished (literally) out of the river.
Fans of earlier seasons of A Touch of Frost will enjoy the
elements of continuity that are worked into the story, in the form of
Frost's ongoing relationship with Shirley Fisher, which changes and
advances over the course of the third-season episodes.
While the quality of the stories is of course very important, I've
always found that the appeal of a mystery series centers largely
around the figure of the detective: if he's an interesting character,
it gives the series that extra "hook" that makes you want
to watch subsequent episodes. To the show's credit, the blunt and
often obnoxious Detective Inspector Jack Frost (played by David
Jason), who's also highly disorganized and a workaholic to boot, is a
distinctive character. Even so, for me the character of Frost falls
somewhere in the middle of the "interesting detective"
spectrum. He has a lot more personality than the bland detectives of
Midsomer Murders, but somehow I didn't find him as compelling
as, for instance, Foyle of Foyle's War or David Suchet's
portrayal of Hercule Poirot.
A Touch of Frost: Season 3 is packaged in a double-wide
plastic keepcase that holds the set's three DVDs.
The image quality for A Touch of Frost: Season 3 is a bit
disappointing; I'd have expected a show filmed in 1995 to look a bit
better. As it is, the picture is adequate. There's a slightly faded,
brownish tint to the image, and the contrast is excessively heavy, so
detail is lost in a number of scenes. Edge enhancement isn't too
apparent, but I did notice that many of the straight lines in the
picture tend to have a jagged appearance.
The episodes of A Touch of Frost: Season 3 appear in their
original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1.
The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is reasonable, carrying the dialogue
competently. It's not always as sharp and clear as I'd like, but
overall it sounds natural, with no problems of distortion or noise in
There are no special features on this set.
Touch of Frost: Season 3 offers up four reasonably entertaining
stories for fans of British mysteries. I found the episodes
entertaining, though not as much as other mystery series I've seen.
If you're actively looking for a new British mystery series, set in
the modern day, you won't go far wrong with A Touch of Frost,
and certainly if you've enjoyed the earlier seasons you'll most
likely like Season 3 as well. I'll give it a mild "recommended"