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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Hope Springs
Hope Springs
Acorn Media // Unrated // June 1, 2010
List Price: $49.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted May 25, 2010 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

I enjoy a lot of British produced mystery shows, so when Hope Springs arrived I thought it would be right up my alley. Revolving around a quartet of on-the-lam female ex-cons who find themselves in a small Scottish town and embroiled in an unsolved murder, I envisioned a light drama with an interesting take on the mystery genre. What I got was a very plodding program filled with one-dimensional characters, just about all of them unlikeable. Add to that a series of unexplainable major plot points and you have a recipe for a fairly unappealing show.

The day Ellie is released from prison her rotten boyfriend picks her up outside of the jail and takes her directly to a crime he's been planning. He needs her to count the money that he'll be getting when he sells some stolen jewels. (I guess he can't count himself, or knows of anyone else who can, so he waited for his girlfriend to be released from jail.) Ellie has some plans of her own, and with three other cons she met in jail (who are apparently also released on that very same day since it's later revealed that none of them contacted any of their friends or family since getting out of the joint) she pulls off an elaborate scheme and steals 3 million British Pounds from her man. Not only that, but she frames him with the stolen gems.

Even though the thug is in jail, that won't stop him from taking retribution of the four women, so they plan to go to Barbados using fake passports. Unfortunately when they arrive at the airport they find their forger dead on the ground (she had a heart attack) with the passports on her chest and the floor in plain view. Rather than pick them up and continue with their plan, they panic, get on a train and go as far away as they can without a passport: Scotland. Stealing a car, they drive into the country where they stop at an old run down inn and decide to hide out there until they can get another set of passports.

Okay, so you're in Scotland with a ton of cash and you need passports to flee the country because you suspect (rightly it turns out) that there's a psychopathic hit man on your trail. What do you do? If you answered "Spend ₤200,000 of your stash and buy a run down hotel" you could be a writer for the show because that's exactly what they do, muttering something about making it look good when they apply for their passports. Ellie buys the place from the old lady who owns it, and at the local attorney's office's we discover that he wanted to buy the hotel too (for some sinister reason), he just never thought of offering money for it. Now he's trying to run the new owners out by every trick he can think of, though paying for a hotel in cash doesn't seem to arouse his suspicions.

Things get worse when the lawyer's son tries to burn the hotel down. He doesn't succeed, but he does manage to destroy one second floor room (only, the rest of the inn is fine, including a deer head that was seen burning but magically restores itself the next day) which happens to be where the money was kept.

Now with no cash, (well, they do get some... they steal the ₤200,000 from the old lady who 'doesn't believe in banks' and hides it in her mattress. As they're stealing it though, they promise to pay her back because they're nice crooks) they have to make the inn profitable so they get down to the tough business of running a hotel and pub.

So, what about the murder mystery? Yeah, it eventually shows up too. There was a teen aged girl murdered recently in the village, and the main suspect is actually dead, hidden under the floorboards of the hotel. (Why he hasn't started to smell is a mystery in itself.) The hunky local cop is still looking for the murderer, and that has the four women mighty worried.

There's so much wrong with this show that I don't know where to start. First of all, all of the characters are one dimensional caricatures of real people. Shoo (one of the ex-cons) is dumb as a box of rocks, but pretty and blond. The lawyer is so slimy and underhanded that you expect there to be an audio track of people booing and hissing when he appears on the screen. The local cop is not only cute, but he's a good man, wanting to do what's right and uphold the law even when the rest of the town disagrees with what he's done.

What's worst than that though is the idiotic plot developments. Believe it or not it even gets worse than the 'let's buy a hotel' idiocy. In one episode Shoo finds a very important piece of evidence in the murder investigation, the cell phone of the prime suspect. Ellie is afraid to give it to the cops since that might start them investigating the new hotel owners (in heaven's name why???) but Shoo drops it by the police station anonymously anyway. This caused Ellie to freak out. Shoo's DNA might be on the phone! So the women arrange to rob the police officer who is taking the phone to the lab in Glasgow. What! They honestly think that robbing an officer of the law is LESS likely to get them in trouble than the off chance that some DNA evidence is found on the phone? If it was discovered, Shoo could always say "yeah, I found it but didn't want to get involved."

That's resolved by taking the SIM card out of the phone and planting it near where the officer was robbed and then 'discovering' it with the hunky cop. He's also pretty stupid because he never wonders how the SIM card got out of the phone. It's not like they can just 'fall' out.

I can overlook plot holes if it's a character driven show, but in this I actively disliked all of the main characters. Ellie steals the life savings from an old lady. Shoo always chooses the most idiotic option in any given situation. The old lady who used to own the inn is a mean drunk. The lawyer is a crook. Yeah, these are people I want to spend time with. Don't make that mistake, just pass this one by.

The DVD:

Audio:

The stereo soundtrack is fine. Nothing to write home about, but it does the job. The dialog is easy to hear and the background music sounds fine. An average presentation.

Video:

While the show wasn't very good the image was nice. The colors were solid and the flesh tones accurate. The level of detail was pretty good, even in low light situations. On the digital side the set was also satisfactory with no major defect worth noting.

Extras:

Not much, just a photo gallery.

Final Thoughts:

This season is only 8 episodes long, but it felt much, much, longer. It started out with a good concept, but the pace was way too slow and the execution was horrible. The show is filled with idiotic plot devices and unappealing one-dimensional characters. This is a show that I really wished I hadn't watched. Learn from my mistake. Skip it.
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