In the U.S., the British series The
Irish R.M. was presented via PBS' Masterpiece Theater program.
1 and Series
2 of the show were broadcast here, however. Now the third series
of The Irish R.M. has made its way to DVD, giving U.S. fans a
chance to see how this gently charming, good-naturedly humorous show
Peter Bowles continues to star as
the beleaguered Major Yeates, a retired British army officer who has
taken on the generally thankless job of being the resident magistrate
(R.M.) for a rural West Ireland community. Over the past two series,
we've seen how he and his wife Philippa have gotten to know their
eccentric and always surprising neighbors: the incorrigible Flurry
Knox (Bryan Murray), Sally Knox (Lise Ann McLaughlin), the
housekeeper Mrs. Cadogan (Anna Manahan), and a host of other
characters. The Irish are always trying to get the best of hapless
Major Yeates, but as time goes by, he has become more of a member of
The show's six final episodes are
included here. In "The Muse of Skebawn," Major Yeates has
to contend with the introduction of newfangled "moving pictures"
as well as the excessively attentive Miss Bobbie Bennett. Major
Yeates' sister Babs comes to help out in "Major Apollo Riggs,"
along with Cousin Andrew, whose assistance goes a bit too far. "The
Friend of Her Youth" brings in Babs' old friend Julian, who soon
ruffles the feathers of Major Yeates' household... so much so that
Flurry Knox decides to teach him a lesson. New technology raises its
head once again in "In the Curranhilty Country," with the
Major's new motor car causing all sorts of problems. "Lisheen
Races" features conflicts with Sally and Miss Bennett, as well
as concerns for the Major's job. The series wraps up with "The
Devil You Know," with the Major offered a new post elsewhere.
Will he take it?
All in all, the third series of The
Irish R.M. follows in the same vein as the previous two series.
The show sticks consistently with the character- and situation-based
humor, steering well clear of the political, social, and religious
issues that were such a problem in the relations of England and
Ireland at that time. The English-Irish antipathy is sometimes
alluded to, especially in the final episode, but it's never brought
to the fore. As a result, The Irish R.M. maintains a light
comic tone all the way to the end. I think that the show may have
missed out on some opportunities for additional depth by steering so
firmly clear of dramatic issues, but certainly the result is
consistent. If you've enjoyed the first two series, you'll certainly
enjoy the concluding one. While the situation as a whole isn't as
fresh as it was in the first part of the first season, the actors are
clearly still having fun with their roles, and the overall level is
on a par with the previous episodes.
It's also nice to see that the final
episode wraps up the series in a satisfying way. I won't reveal any
details, but I'll say that it's a well-handled episode that fits very
well with the overall tone of the three seasons. Fans will be
The Irish R.M. Series 3 is a
two-disc set, with three episodes on each disc. The two discs are in
their own plastic keepcases inside a glossy paperboard slipcover.
The image quality is disappointing,
like Series 2 or slightly worse. The image overall is very soft and
worn-looking, in close-ups as well as longer-distance shots, with a
grainy feel and many scattered flaws. In the outdoor scenes, the
image has a washed-out, grayish tint, while the indoor scenes have a
brownish cast to them. All the episodes are presented in their
original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack falls a
notch below what's adequate, even for a 1980s show. The sound is
muffled and rather flat, making it sometimes difficult to catch all
of the dialogue clearly.
A few minor special features are
included on Disc 1. "Mrs. Cadogan's Kitchen" has four
recipes. We also get a text profile of the writers Somerville and
Ross, whose short stories form the basis for the series, and cast
For fans of the series, the third
and concluding set of episodes of The Irish R.M. will
certainly be worth watching, especially as they wrap up the series
nicely with episodes that were never shown in the U.S. I'm
disappointed by the low quality of the video and audio transfers,
though, so even though I'd give it a "recommended" for
content, overall I'll just give it a "rent it" rating.