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Last Detective - Series 4, The
Peter Davison returns for a fourth season as DC "Dangerous" Davies in The Last Detective. This time around the season has five episodes, and the running time has gone up too (90 minutes as opposed to the 70 minutes the earlier season ran.) Once again Davison does a splendid job as the mild mannered detective. A man who loves his job even though his job doesn't love him, Davies is a realistic police officer who is neither a brilliant sleuth nor a tough and grizzled cop. This grounding in reality is what makes the show so enjoyable.
Detective Constable Davies (Peter Davison), "Dangerous" to his friends and foes alike because he isn't, is a middle-aged man who doesn't quite fit in his job. He's just doesn't seem to be rugged and tough person who could handle being on the police force, and he's not. Because he's not callous and hardened like the rest of the squad, and not particularly outstanding at his job, he's not well liked. The fact that he has turned in a fellow officer for a capital crime earns him the enmity of the rest of the squad and especially his Inspector. He's known as The Last Detective, the last one who will get a good assignment or will ever be called to work an important case.
Not only is his professional life not going well, his private life is in a shambles too. He's getting divorced from his wife, though he's not really sure it's the right move, and his only friend is Mod (Sean Hughes), a younger man who jumps from job to job and is your prototypical slacker.
In the fourth and most recent season of the show, Dangerous Davies life is looking up a bit. He's moved back in with his wife, Julie, but Mod has moved in with him. After all, he couldn't just leave Mod out on the street after he'd been so nice to Dangerous in the past. He tries and tries to kick him out, but Mod always seems to end up back at the Davies house.
Like the previous seasons, Davies is just an ordinary guy trying to do his job to the best of his ability. He's not a brilliant inspector who notices every small clue, nor is he a tough and hardened cop who'll intimidate a confession out of a suspect. He's just a normal officer who happens to care about the people he's protecting, even if they don't always appreciate him.
The show doesn't feature car chases or shoot-outs and Davies doesn't always solve the crimes before the criminal is revealed. It's a character driven show, with poor DC Davies often having to convince his superior that a death was the result of foul play, and irritating the rest of the squad in the process.
This season's five episodes were all very good. One of the highlights was the first program of the season which featured rock star Roger Daltrey as a man named Mick, possibly a tip-of-the-hat to his feature movie, McVicar. Daltrey does an excellent job as a lame mob member who isn't quite as connected as he once was.
As with most British drama, the acting is very good all around. Peter Davison plays Dangerous Davies with just the right amount of sadness so the character gets your sympathy but doesn't become pathetic. He usually has an upbeat attitude but sometimes his situation gets the better of him. Sean Hughes is also good in his role of Mod, bringing a nice touch of humor to lighten up Davies rather pathetic life.
This is a show that the will appeal to mystery fans as well as anyone who enjoys good storytelling. While the plots aren't intense and serious as modern crime drama, the show does have a cozy feel to it. It's like a pair of well worn tennis shoes, comfortable even though it's not flashy.
The episodes in this season are:
Once Upon a Time on the Westway: A diamond robbery occurs the very day that a notable crime boss is released from jail. The boss is the prime suspect, since the crime fits his MO to a tee, until he's found floating in his pool with a bullet in his head.
Dangerous Liaisons: When a recluse is found in his house two weeks after he died, only Dangerous thinks the death is suspicious. Looking over the house, Davies stumbles upon a hidden reel of film that turns out to be a home-made snuff movie, about 15 year old. When the autopsy confirms that the man was smothered, there's no doubt that he was killed, but is the murder related to the one on the film?
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Willesden: When Bunny Hopper, one half of a comedy duo, dies on stage of poisoning; Davies has his work cut out for him. Bunny had lovers in every town across England, including three in the town where he died, and a partner who might have tired of carrying Bunny for the last several years.
The Man from Montevideo: When a limo driver is found dead with his throat slashed by a broken campaign bottle, the case quickly gets complicated. The driver turns out to be a cabbie who, twenty years earlier, found two million pounds in cash in the back of his taxi and then disappeared. Does his old wife that he left still hate him enough to kill him, or could it be the son of an Arab sheik who lost the money and was disinherited because of it?
The Dead Peasants Society: In the final episode of the series Dangerous runs up against his boss. When a member of a secret society (similar to the Freemasons) is found dead in his car Dangerous is surprisingly assigned to the case. His investigations lead to the lodge, and to an investigative journalist who was using the murdered man as a source. The reports gives him a list of members of the lodge, and one of the names happens to be his sergeant. Was Dangerous put on the case because he wouldn't be able to solve it, and was the sergeant trying to cover things up?
These five shows, which run nearly 90 minutes each, come on two DVDs which are housed in a pair of single width keepcases. The cases fit into a nice slipcase.
This show has a stereo soundtrack with no optional subtitles. I really wish that Acorn would put subs on their BBC discs, some times the British accents are a little hard to understand and some translations would be nice. Aside from that, the audio portion is fine.
The widescreen anamorphic image (1.78:1) looks good for a British TV show. The image is just a tad soft and there's a slight red push, but these aren't big defects. The level of detail is fine, and the black levels, while not outstanding, are acceptable. Digital defects are very minimal, a little aliasing in the background is all. A nice solid image.
In addition to t usual series of actor filmographies that have accompanied this series in the past, there's also a 15 minute interview with Peter Davison. The questions are pretty lame but Davison is an engaging subject and he talks about what he likes about the show, how it's different from the novels and the motion picture, and relates some off screen antics.
I enjoyed this set just as much as the other. DC Davies is a rather engrossing character, someone you can empathize with and find yourself rooting for. The mysteries can have interesting twists to them too, and sometimes go off in unexpected directions. Equal parts drama and mystery, The Last Detective is a show that is strongly recommended.