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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Touching Evil: Complete Collection
Touching Evil: Complete Collection
Acorn Media // Unrated // July 6, 2010
List Price: $79.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted June 29, 2010 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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The Show:
Acorn Media has done it again.  They've licensed a riveting and gripping UK drama and released it here in the US.  This time it's Touching Evil, a police procedural staring Robson Green who would go on to make the equally chilling Wire in the Blood.  Equally intense in this role, Green plays a very human police officer who has to work on the vilest and most disturbing crimes that occur.  With an excellent cast and well crafted scripts, Touching Evil is a top-notch production that's well worth watching.

DCI Dave Creegan (Robson Green) was shot and nearly killed in the line of duty.  Taking a bullet to the head left him with a single visible scar, but many that couldn't be seen.  After making a total physical recovery, and a partial mental one, an old friend gets Creegan assigned to the newly formed OSC, Organized & Serial Crime Unit.  Like a British version of the FBI, these elite detectives work on the cases that are too big for the local bobbies.
Creegan is very good at what he does.  He's able to think like a criminal and figure out the method behind the madness that he sees.  His ability to profile the person behind heinous crimes often points he and his colleagues in the right direction.  But it takes a toll on the man's all too fragile psyche.  It's said that there's a fine line between genius and madness, and Creegan is walking right on that line.

The crimes that the OSC investigate are particularly horrific, and this show isn't for the timid or young children.  They involve not only serial killers, but killers who target children and like to watch them die slow deaths.  There is a soldier who replays the horrors of Bosnia in London, pedophiles stealing children to make porn, and a killer who drugs people before setting them on fire.  It's gruesome stuff, and though the crimes are mostly committed off camera this show isn't for the young or sensitive.
The brilliance of the show is the way it spins the narrative.  Though it is a police procedural, the show isn't about the killer or criminal, it's about the lives of the people affected by his (or her) actions.  The name of the show says it all:  Touching Evil.  Not only are the families of the victims changed forever by what they go through, but the cops themselves are deeply affected.  Not only by what they see, but by what they find themselves doing, or thinking of doing, in reaction to the vile crimes that they have to solve.  It's this dynamic that is often glossed over in crime shows and movies, that sets this show apart from its contemporaries.

The show is also very surprising.  There are twists and turns in the investigations of course, that's to be expected in a mystery program, but what happens to the main characters and some of the choices they make are very startling, but realistic.  It gives the show an edge, and viewers are never quite sure what will happen in the next scene.
It's no surprise that Robson Green does a wonderful job as the lead.  He plays Creegan with just the right mix of empathy, uncertainty, and violence to make him a realistic three dimensional person.  Nicola Walker plays Creegan's partner, Susan Taylor, and while her role isn't quite as meaty as Green's, she also does a wonderful job.

The episodes in this collection are:
Season One:
Through the Clouds:  Creegan joins the OSC and has to find a serial kidnapper.  He discovers a series of kidnappings that occurred in Germany nine years earlier with the exact same MO.  Unfortunately those crimes were never solved and the children were murdered.
Killing with Kindness:  Several patients in the ICU at a hospital die of heart attacks.  That's not so unusual, but these people didn't have heart trouble and they all died at the same time.
Deadly Web:  Someone is convincing teens to carry out his murderous fantasies through the internet.  It sounds dumb, but the episode was quite engrossing.
Season Two: 
Scalping:  Creegan and Taylor catch a serial killer who admits he's guilty.  But after he's locked up the crimes continue.  It appears that he's trained a student to take his place...
War Relief:  A series of corpses, all carefully washed and enshrouded in white sheets, starts turning up across Europe.  When they hit England, Creegan discovers that the victims were all doing relief work in Bosnia together.  
What Price a Child:  When a woman kidnaps a young child, Creegan uncovers a ring of criminals who are importing orphans and selling them across Europe, mainly to pedophiles.
Season Three:
Innocent:  A criminal who confessed to Creegan has his statement thrown out and is set free.  Creegan follows him back to his home town where the murders start happening once again.  But this time Creegan thinks the original suspect was innocent.
Fiery Death:  A series of bodies, some burned beyond recognition, start turning up and it's up to the OSC to discover who is doing it and why.
The DVD:

This collection contains all three seasons, 8 stories in all, on five discs.  Each season come in its own single width keepcase and the three cases are housed in a slipcase.  One note:  Originally each story here was aired as two 50 minute long episodes.  They've been stitched together for this release. 
The only audio track is an English stereo mix.  There are no subtitles.  The sound is very clear and crisp.  Since there are not a lot of sound effects or music, it wasn't an enveloping sound, but very good nonetheless.  Fairly good use was made of the front sound stage with certain sound effects coming from one side or the other.  It was an adequate sounding disc.  There are optional SDH subtitles.
The fullscreen image looks pretty good overall.  The picture was clear and not fuzzy like some shows from the UK tend to be.  Skin tones looked natural, and details were present in the shadows.  That's not to say it picture was perfect, it was slightly dark, and not as sharp as I would have liked.  There was some digital noise reduction done, and there are artifacts from that, mainly a slightly grainy look to the sky and other large objects.   This is almost unnoticeable and not a distraction.  It also looks like this is a PAL-to-NTCS conversion with a slight amount of ghosting in some scenes where there is a lot of movement.  Again, this doesn't distract from the show luckily.
Unfortunately there are no extras aside from some text biographies.
Final Thoughts:
This is an excellent, though disturbing show.  As the title suggests, this crime drama is more interested in looking at the affects that evil has on people than the acts themselves and that makes for some excellent viewing.  Highly Recommended.
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