This review covers the British Broadcasting Channel television mini-series Conviction, which should not be confused with the short-lived U.S. television series Conviction, which was about a group of young and overworked prosecutors set in the Law & Order universe. The British mini-series Conviction is of a very different nature. It was released in 2004 and is made up of six hour long episodes. The mini-series is about a single case and a couple detectives who went too far to get a conviction, vigilante-style. The series has been heralded as an intense psychological show that gets you thinking, draws you in, and doesn't let go. As for my opinion, I enjoyed it a lot, but I do not see it as something I would watch over and over again.
The primary case that is addressed in Conviction is about a twelve year old girl and her death. In the beginning of the story, the detectives arrive at their latest crime scene. A young girl named Angela was stabbed to death. Her vicious killing leaves the local community in an uproar and the detectives responsible for investigating her death emotionally troubled. As they investigate, they are led to Jason Buleigh, a man with a shady past. However, the detectives soon learn they have little evidence to make a case against him.
On the night of Buleigh's release, the detectives celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Joe Payne's (Ian Puleston-Davies) marriage. During the party, Joe has a difficult time enjoying himself. He is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Buleigh is the killer. After several drinks, he convinces fellow detective Chrissie Fairburn (William Ash) to drive him to Buleigh's place. They intend to harass Buleigh, but end up going farther. They take him into the woods and force him to dig a grave. As they became caught up in the heat of the moment, they killed him. Joe and Chrissie struggle with what they did and try to justify it as the right thing to do. At the same time, they hide it from their fellow detectives Robert Seymour (Reece Dinsdale), Lucy Romanis (Laura Fraser), and Ray Fairburn (Nicholas Gleaves).
As the story unfolds, both Chrissie and Joe deal with their actions in their own ways. Trouble brews when it is revealed that Buleigh may have actually innocent. The internal strife becomes increasingly difficulty, as well other complications surface like Chrissie's father and the other detectives. Chrissie's father was passed out drunk in the car, but remembers small details of the night. And while Chrissie and Joe are privy to their dirty deed, the other detectives continue to pursue the killers of Angela and Buleigh. How far will Chrissie and Joe bend their convictions to justify their acts?
What works for Conviction is how well the story unfolds and the acting performances. The primary plotline is addressed very well and actors Puleston-Davies and Ash are solid in their performance as the lead characters. They are convincing and handle their conflict and project strong emotions. In addition to their roles, several of the supporting help give the story a dark, mysterious emotional feeling.
However, while I strongly enjoyed the show and its aspects, I felt there were a couple elements that felt somewhat out of place. For instance, Lucy has a fair amount of screen time dedicated to her back story about falling in love with her confidential informant. While the informant plays a key role in advancing the primary storyline, Lucy's struggle with the ethics of her new relationship felt somewhat out of place and not necessary. On the other hand, there are several strong subplots. For instance, a great example involves Chrissie and Ray's father. He has dementia and struggles with his own experiences and what little he remembers from Buleigh's murder. It is an invigorating aspect and ties in very well with the main plot.
Overall, Conviction is a solid drama that has several strengths and a couple weaknesses. The general storyline is simplistic, but incorporates multiple aspects and portrays emotions well with subplots and strong acting performances. In the end, it makes for a good watch if you enjoy dark, emotional dramas. On that note, while I enjoyed it a lot, I do not see it as having high replay value.
1. Episode 1: The murder squad investigate the brutal stabbing death of a 12 year old girl, quickly coming to the conclusion that a local man with a sordid past may possibly be involved.
2. Episode 2: Now with the proof that Jason Buliegh had an alibi for the time little Angela was murdered, Joe and Chrissie begin to face the dark consequences of their actions that night in the woods.
3. Episode 3: As the team gets closer to finding Angela's killers, the whole case goes under once more. Joe's behavior becomes increasingly erratic, more so when Chrissie comes across a witness from the night Jason Buliegh went missing.
4. Episode 4: A young man on a murderous rampage takes Joe hostage and shoots Chrissie, leaving him for dead. More secrets begin to emerge from Ray's family history leaving a dark shadow cast upon his now feeble minded father.
5. Episode 5: Ray calls for a search of the woods for a possible victim from his father's past ... Joe and Chrissie's relationship is close to a breaking point as new evidence emerges on their situation as well.
6. Episode 6: The team is finally closing in on who killed Jason Buliegh. Joe's continued erratic behavior and efforts to cover up evidence make his counterparts very suspicious. Will he accomplish covering up his crime or will he take Chrissie down with him?
The video in this release is given in an anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color format. The picture quality is quite good. It suffers from a slight grain, but detail remains to be sharp and clear. However, there are moments when the picture suffers compression artifacts and hints of edge enhancement. This is most noticeable during the darker scenes. Overall it is a great looking picture.
The audio is given in 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. In general, the sound quality is good and it provides an audible and clean track. The dialogue is usually a little flat while music and sound effects come off rich and vibrant.
For extras, there are cast biographies and a photo gallery.
The BBC television mini-series Conviction is a highly engaging drama about the murder of a twelve year old girl and the vigilante acts of detectives trying to get a conviction. The show has a dark and mysterious subtext that provides strong emotions. It is the kind of drama that will pull you in and keep your attention. However, at the same time it is not the kind of production you will want to watch over and over again. In the end, Conviction is an enjoyable watch that is worth seeing, but not worth purchasing.