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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Irish R.M.: Series 3
The Irish R.M.: Series 3
Acorn Media // Unrated // February 21, 2006
List Price: $49.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted March 9, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The movie

In the U.S., the British series The Irish R.M. was presented via PBS' Masterpiece Theater program. Only Series 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 wrapped up

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 community.

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 pleased.

The DVD

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.

Video

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.

Audio

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.

Extras

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 filmographies.

Final thoughts

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.

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