Okay, confession time:
I didn't get a chance to watch every episode in this set. I always make it a habit of watching entire
sets before I write a review, but it just wasn't possible this time
around. You see, when I elected to
review Lovejoy: The Complete
Series I noticed
that it had 22 discs. I've reviewed
other large sets; The Midsommers Murders
and Foyle's War (19 discs each) come
to mind. The difference is that those
collections contained a single 1 ½ episode on each DVD, whereas Lovejoy has
four 50-minute episodes on most discs.
So my plan of watching a disc per day quickly fell by the
wayside. I did watch a majority of the
included at least one from each season, and I plan on finishing it as
soon as I can. Lovejoy is
a very fun and entertianing show that is a bit different from the
typical mystery show and that difference is quite refreshing.
Lovejoy (Ian McShane) is a 'divvie' - a person who can tell
if an antique is authentic without consulting books or doing research. As his associate Tinker explains in an early
episode, the term comes from the word 'diviner' and it's an almost
talent that he and few others possess.
Naturally with such a talent Lovejoy (his first name is never
and he prefers not to be addressed as "Mr.") is in the antiques
business. He goes to auctions, buys things
there, and then turns them around for a healthy profit.
When genuine antiques aren't showing up at
the auctions he's not above making some himself.
Aiding Lovejoy in his search for undiscovered treasure and a
quick buck are his friend Tinker Dill (Dudley Sutton) a perpetual drunk
willing to help Lovejoy in any nefarious scheme and Eric Catchpole
a young and not to bright assistant whose father hires Lovejoy to teach
the antiques business even though this often results in running errands. Lady Jane Felsham (Phyllis Logan) is a rich
noblewoman who is a close friend of Lovejoy's and comes in handy when
someone to buy him lunch or bail him out of jail.
On the other side of the aisle is Charlie Gimbert, the owner
of a local antiques auction house who has a long running animosity with
Lovejoy. They each will go out of their
way to make the other's life miserable.
It is things like cheating Gimbert that get Lovejoy out of bed
In his search to obtain a set of rare flint-lock pistols or
maybe a Chinese terra cotta pig, Lovejoy sometimes comes across a dead
body. Or maybe not. That's
one of the great things about the show
is that while they are mysteries, they aren't necessarily murder
mysteries. Many of the plots involve
Lovejoy coming to the rescue of someone who has been conned in one way
often turning the tables on the con man in the process, or just
why a bizarre event occurred. In one
episode he has to track down why fake Roman coins and nothing else were
from a museum, and in another he's asked to make a Stradivarius violin
like a fake.
The shows all contain interesting mysteries, even the ones
where viewers aren't sure of what the mystery is until the show's half
through, but the thing that keeps people coming back are the characters. Lovejoy himself has a love of all things old
that is rather infectious as well as a devious mind that is both sharp
cunning. Watching him con a deserving
mark is joyous because he sets the whole thing up so well.
Tinker is a drunken sod who is almost, but
not quite, repulsive in his manner (which makes for an interesting
and it's always fun to watch Eric try to keep up with Lovejoy's plans.
The only character that I didn't like was Lady Jane.
The actress did a wonderful job in the role,
but she often seemed to be there only to make the plots work out. Does a key aspect of a story have Lovejoy in
a strange town? Lady Jane will invite
him! Does Lovejoy need some money or
authentic expensive antiques for a con?
Lady Jane provides them! I was
just never sold on the notion that a rich, married woman would want to
with a rogue like Lovejoy. It's easy
enough to overlook however and doesn't ruin the stories.
One thing I really enjoyed about the show is the way they
captured the near obsessive nature of a true collector.
As one who suffers from that enjoyable
malady, I can attest that they got it right.
Every once in a while Lady Jane will ask "what's so important
old piece of wood" which will give Lovejoy the opportunity to explain
collectors will go to extraordinary lengths to obtain that one missing
from their collections.
The show is pretty consistent over the course of its run,
providing sold dramas all the way through the six seasons.
There are some cast changes in the fifth
season. Lady Jane leaves the show early
in the run and so does Eric (who is no longer a young kid by this
time), though a bit later. They're
replaced by Lovejoy's new apprentice Beth
Taylor (Diane Parish) and the owner of a local antiques shop, Charlotte
Cavendish (Caroline Langrishe). I have
to admit that I thought the show did take a dip in quality around the
these changes were made, but looking back I think it was more a case of
fact that I didn't like loosing the characters I had grown used to
Jane) more than a problem with the writing.
While these aren't comedies, the shows do have a good amount
of humor. Lovejoy seems to go through
life with a wink and a smile, confident that everything will work out
than really worrying about anything and this joy de vivre is infectious. In several shows it's not really clear what
Lovejoy's plan is until the very end and these last minute reveals are
quite hilarious. The comedy is rather
dry and understated mostly, Lovejoy admitting that he signed a forged
with his own name to avoid prosecution, though sometimes the show can
rather broad. In one case Tinker and
Eric are trying to warn Lovejoy that an axe-wielding maniac is after
him over a
bad phone line and all the divvie hears is that he's being chased by
man', something that's not too uncommon or threatening.
These seem to be the same as the earlier season set releases
all bundled together in a nice sturdy slipcase.
The 22 disc are contained in 7 single-width DVD cases with each
being packaged together and a separate case for the Christmas Specials.
The show is presented with a stereo audio track, which I
suspect is actually a two channel mono mix.
The audio is fine though not outstanding. The
range is about what you'd expect from a
show dating back to 1986, and while the audio isn't terribly crisp
there are no
major defects. Occasionally a bit player
with speak rapidly with a strong accent and it'll be hard to understand
he's saying. Thankfully there are
optional English subtitles for such an occasion.
These unrestored full frame shows are showing their age a
bit. Granted they are TV shows from England
so there are PAL to NTSC conversion issues to deal with but I was
hoping for a
bit more. The image is generally on the
soft side and while the level of detail is fine the colors are muted
and a bit
muddled in some parts. They're quite
acceptable; just don't expect them to look like modern shows. On the digital side of things there was a bit
of aliasing here and there but no major problems.
The main extra is a nice interview with star Ian
McShane. Here he talks about each season
in some detail. Unfortunately the
interview is spread across the six seasons.
I would have preferred that it was kept together on one disc,
but it's a
Other bonus times are few and far between: There
are a series of interviews that the
cast gave prior to the start of the third season included along with
and McShane talks with daytime TV host Judi Spiers on the second season
discs. I'm a bit disappointed that there
weren't more TV interviews included with the later seasons.
Both amusing and filled with some intriguing mysteries,
Lovejoy is a fun and entertaining show.
If you've never picked up any of the individual seasons, this
collection is good way to get the whole series in one fell swoop. The set comes with a strong recommendation.