DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Cadfael - Set 4
Cadfael - Set 4
Acorn Media // Unrated // January 7, 2002
List Price: $49.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted December 11, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
Cadfael, a BBC series starring Derek Jacobi in the title role, takes viewers on a journey to medieval England: specifically to Shrewsbury in the twelfth century, where in the midst of civil war the monks of Shrewsbury Abbey carry on as best they can. Brother Cadfael stands out among the more conventional monks by virtue of his keen interest in medicine and what we'd call today forensics, and so he's often called on to solve various crimes and mysteries taking place in the community.

Acorn Media has consistently been releasing the Cadfael series on DVD both in individual DVDs and boxed season sets (see the review of Set 3). Cadfael Set 4 includes all three episodes from 1998, the BBC series' fourth and final season: The Pilgrim of Hate, The Potter's Field, and The Holy Thief. All three seventy-five-minute episodes are based on novels of the same name by Ellis Peters, who penned a total of twenty Brother Cadfael novels over the course of seventeen years, from 1977 to 1994.

The Pilgrim of Hate offers an interesting murder case in which the first mystery is the identity of the victim: an anonymous body in a leather sack is discovered among the effects of a motley assortment of pilgrims who have come to the abbey on "Cripples' Day" in hopes of a miraculous cure. The characters in this episode are reasonably well-drawn: several sibling pairs (two brothers and a brother and sister) offer relationships that are on the surface loving and charitable, but underneath reveal a darker nature.

The Potter's Field is my favorite of the three episodes in this set. A woman's body turns up in a field donated to the abbey by a potter who has decided to give up his profession and join the order. Is it the body of the potter's wife, who has been missing? Is it someone else? In either case, who did it? Cadfael's investigations turn up a variety of dangerous secrets and murderous motivations in many seemingly-innocent townsfolk, including the potter himself; the story is even a bit overly complex for its running time, but it's entertaining viewing.

The Holy Thief is the weakest by far of the three Cadfael episodes included in this set. Hinging around a rival abbey's desire to get its hands on the bones of St. Winifred, the patron saint (and money-maker) of Shrewsbury Abbey, The Holy Thief is incoherently plotted, with the focus of the story wavering among a handful of underdeveloped sub-threads. The characters' motivations are unclear, and the plot is awkward and contrived, with the result that Cadfael's unraveling of the mystery is less than compelling.

Video

All three Cadfael episodes are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The Potter's Field offers the best transfer, with good colors and natural skin tones offsetting the flaws of some grain in the image. The Pilgrim of Hate and The Holy Thief are disappointing, however, as both are washed-out and lifeless-looking. In particular, The Holy Thief is muddy-looking and lacks detail in dark scenes... which take up a substantial part of the film. Skin tones look pallid rather than natural, and a moderate amount of noise appears in the image as well.

Audio

The Dolby 2.0 track for the Cadfael episodes is adequate. It's a primarily dialogue-based show, and the actor's voices are generally carried correctly by the soundtrack. At times the sound quality is a bit muffled, but on the whole it's satisfactory.

Extras

All three DVDs offer the same basic special features. The highlight of the bonus material is that each episode has a different short audio interview with Derek Jacobi. The remainder of the special features consists of production photos, filmographies, and an Ellis Peters biography and bibliography. The Holy Thief also has a short text section offering some historical background.

The DVDs are in individual keepcases that are enclosed in a glossy paper slipcase that will look nice next to the previous three sets, which are all done in the same style.

Final thoughts

Fans of the Cadfael series will want to pick up Cadfael Set 4 as a nice way to complete the set on DVD. Those viewers who are interested but not familiar with the episodes already will do better to rent them, or, since the episodes are also available individually, buy just one as a way of testing the waters. For an individual purchase, I'd recommend The Potter's Field as being the best episode from this set, with The Pilgrim of Hate coming in a close second; all but completionists will want to pass on The Holy Thief.

Popular Reviews
1. Godzilla 2000
2. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla / Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
3. They Came Together
4. Wilfred Season 3
5. Rebirth of Mothra / Rebirth of Mothra II / Rebirth of Mothra III
6. Last Man Standing Season 1
7. All That Jazz
8. Graceland: Season 1
9. Tinto Brass: Maestro Of Erotica Cinema
10. Legend of Hell House


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use