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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Third Series
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Third Series
Acorn Media // Unrated // January 31, 2006
List Price: $59.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted February 17, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The movie

The British mystery series Hetty Wainthropp Investigates gives us, in the show's third season, a set of episodes that are quite consistent with the series as it has developed so far. That's a good thing if you're a big fan of the series - you get more of what you like - but of course, the downside is that there's a risk of the show feeling a bit tired.

Patricia Routledge stars here as the title character, a woman who in her 60s decides to set up her own private investigation agency, with the help of her husband and her teenaged friend Geoffrey (Dominic Monahan). It's an unorthodox "family" approach to sleuthing, but fortunately the fact that Hetty does run it as a business saves the series from the convoluted set-ups we get in stories featuring amateur detectives. The plots are consistent with the general feel of the show: rather than gruesome murders or high-profile robberies, we get more "ordinary" mysteries, like missing relatives, bankrupt store owners gone astray, stolen goods, and schoolyard intimidation.

Running through the mystery plots are storylines involving the three main characters (Hetty, her husband Robert, and her young assistant Geoffrey) as well as friends and family members, like Hetty's irritating brother-in-law. The effect is to give the episodes a "homey" feel, with the emphasis placed more on the characters' relationships than on the cases they're solving. At times I think this is taken a bit too far; Routledge does an excellent job as the self-confident Hetty, but the character isn't interesting enough in her own right to merit taking time from the mysteries.

All in all, I felt that the nine episodes presented here were reasonably well done, but they were lacking a certain something to pull in viewers who are on the fence. If you are already a big fan of this style of mystery, or of the earlier seasons of Hetty Wainthropp, then there's really nothing to complain about. At the same time, though, there's nothing that makes me, a casual viewer of the show, want to watch all of the episodes rather than just a single season or a sampling of episodes.

The episodes included here are "All Stitched Up," "Daughter of the Regiment," "Serving the Community," "Fisticuffs," "Childsplay," "Pursuit by Proxy," "A Minor Operation," "Helping Hansi," and "How Time Flies."

The DVD

The nine 50-minute episodes are presented on three DVDs, each in its own plastic keepcase inside a quite hideous paperboard slipcase. Well, the cover art is distinctive at least, and consistent with earlier seasons.

Video

I was shocked at how bad these episodes look; in fact, I had to double-check that this is a show from the late 1990s, not the 1970s. The image is soft and very grainy, with edge enhancement present. Contrast is rather harsh in some scenes, and there's a slight brownish tint to the image overall.

The episodes are presented in their original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Audio

The Dolby 2.0 track is adequate, but that's it. The sound is generally rather flat, and sometimes has a muted, muffled feel to it.

Extras

Text production notes and cast filmographies are included.

Final thoughts

Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Third Series delivers more of the same type of storytelling as in the previous seasons. If you were a solid fan of the show, you'll probably enjoy these episodes; on the other hand, if you appreciated Patricia Routledge's excellent acting job but were not captivated by the stories themselves, you'll probably find this set to be too much of the same thing. I'll give the set a "rent it" overall, as even fans of the show may want to consider the sub-par transfer when considering a purchase.

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