Series 2 of British crime drama Murder Investigation Team uses a different format, loses a few beloved characters, and adds a few more. It still remains a top notch police procedural, though, and provides several hours of intelligent, engaging fun.
Series 2 has four episodes, instead of the previous series' eight, and each episode is now seventy minutes long, instead of fifty. One of the leads of the first series, DI Vivien Friend, is absent. The other two leads, Rosie McManus (Lindsey Coulson) and Trevor Hands (Michael McKell) return, along with a few of the cast from the previous series. New members of the team include investigators Jed Griffiths (Will Mellor), Eva Sharpe (Diane Parish) and Simon Tait (Abhin Galeya).
Like Series 1, not a lot of time is spent on the home lives of the characters, but there is a bit more attention to the personal relationships in the team itself. A lot of the tension this series is due to Eva being transferred to the MIT without Trevor's approval. He's now the head of the team and not entirely sure of himself, and so resents being forced to accept a talented newcomer who might overshadow him. Also, Trevor has recently gotten divorced, and has some repressed feelings for Rosie, and Jed is always on the make for whatever female he can spend a few minutes alone with. Eva is a dedicated detective who wants to move up, but also must deal with her ongoing divorce and custody battle. And Rosie, the moral center of the team, does the hard work of making everyone get along enough to do their job. The characters are all sharply drawn, and even without a lot of information about their personal lives, they are clearly distinguishable from one another, and deeply human. Their flaws and triumphs are on full display, and they are as likely to make a wrong assumption or mistake as anyone. They're not always nice or presentable, but this only makes them more relatable and compelling in the final accounting.
However, the focus is still on the crimes themselves, much more so than the personalities of the detectives, and the four murders presented here are as dark and gritty as any from Series 1. Rape, adultery, mental illness, jealousy, and killing for fun: all are explored here. Murder Investigation Team takes a deep look at the unseemly side of life, and appreciates all of its foibles. The crimes are tightly plotted and inventive, and paced so that the viewer's interest never flags. This is high quality crime drama, and without the melodramatics present in so many American examples of the genre.
Below is a list of episodes, along with descriptions supplied with the discs:
A raucous night out at the pub becomes a tragedy after a man dies on a busy London street. The killer hides on the other end of a technological labyrinth that has the team racing to prevent the next murder.
The Murder Investigation Team is called to investigate the death of a man who tragically fell from a hospital roof. One case rapidly becomes two as they discover the cover-up of a patient's death after a routine surgery at the hospital.
A cryptic message at the scene of a football player's murder points the detectives to threatening letters and phone calls that preceded his death. Tension builds as they search for the culprit, simultaneously struggling with personal and professional boundaries.
The search for the killer in two nearly identical murders takes an unexpected turn when one of MIT's own tops the suspect list. Morale plummets as they realize that solving this case could reveal an unwanted truth.
Realistic characters, terse and engaging plots, tight pacing, subtle humor, and some great guest stars such as Anthony Head and Danny Dyer make Murder Investigation Team - Series 2 a winner. Perhaps not quite as groundbreaking or compelling as Series 1, Series 2 is still going strong. Highly recommended.
The video is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, and generally looks fairly good. This series was shot in hi-def, which was apparently fairly uncommon in 2005 when Series 2 was produced. As such, it's bright and clear, but perhaps the colors and textures aren't as rich as might be hoped.
The audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and works very well. The dialogue is always clearly audible, and no hiss or other problem can be heard. English subtitles are included, but no alternate language track.
There are only two extras included:
These are text only descriptions of the main characters, which might be helpful for those having trouble sorting out who's who. Mildly interesting, but very slight.
Behind the Scenes Interview
This runs around twelve minutes, and features interviews with actor Michael McKell and producer Jonathan Young. They discuss character development, the production process, and the perils of shooting in hi-def. This one is fairly interesting, particularly the portions with McKell, who is something of a character himself.
Murder Investigation Team - Series 2 isn't quite as engaging as its predecessor, but still provides some great crimes for fans of the police procedural genre. There are interpersonal tensions and some time spent on characterization, but no melodrama to speak of. For those who like their crime television straight down the line, it doesn't get much better than this.