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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Field of Blood, Set 1
The Field of Blood, Set 1
Acorn Media // Unrated // September 30, 2014
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted September 23, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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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
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The Series:

Written and directed by David Kane, The Field Of Blood, based on the novels The Field Of Blood and The Dead Hour by Denise Mina, debuted on BBC One in May of 2011. It arrives on DVD domestically through distributors Acorn Video, their two disc set containing the two episodes of series one on the first disc and the two episodes of series two on the second disc.

Series One:

The first story takes place in 1982 and introduces us to Paddy Meehan (Jayd Johnson), a young woman who works at the local Glaswegian newspaper as a ‘copy boy.' She's made fun of for her weight frequently but has aspirations of making it as a legitimate journalist even if the newsroom is still very much a boys club. The paper is lorded over by news editor Murray Devlin (David Morrissey of The Walking Dead) and initially Paddy bonds a little bit with the only other woman on staff, pretty blonde Heather Allen (Alana Hood).

When news gets out that a ten year old named Calum Ogilvey is accused of killing a six year old boy, the paper is obviously interested but when Paddy learns that the accused is a relative of hers, she naively confides in Heather. The next day, Paddy's gossip makes headlines and her family ostracizes her for it. Not even her fiancé, Sean (Kevin Guthrie), wants anything to do with her, let alone her mother Trisha (Bronagh Gallagher). Her dad, Con (Matt Costello) will talk to her but that's about it. Paddy decides to set things right, she knows Calum didn't do it and wants to prove it. However, she's not a reporter and she knows no one will want to talk to her. She tells various people around town with connections to the case that she's Heather and she starts to make progress on the case, but when Heather winds up dead, things go from bad to worse. She winds up teaming up with a lecherous call car reporter named George McVie (Ford Kiernan), a young male reporter named Terry Hewitt (Jonas Armstrong) and an aging alcoholic newsman named Doctor Pete (Peter Capaldi of Doctor Who fame) to try and sort all of this out…

Series Two:

The second story takes place two years later in 1984 during a miners strike in Scotland. Rumor has it that the union leader, ‘Red' Willie McDade (David Hayman) has hidden assets in an attempt to keep the government from stepping in and freezing them and Paddy and McVie are sent to investigate. They show up at a scene where police are involved and are handed some money from an unnamed Irishman and told to leave. They oblige. The next morning they find out that his had to do with a leftist lawyer named Vhari Burnett (Patrick Kavanagh) and shortly after, they find he's been killed. When another left leaning lawyer turns up dead, his widow claims he was suffering from depression but Paddy and George know there's a connection and that the money she took might be a clue.

Meanwhile, the paper has been bought and Devlin is having to deal with the arrival of new editor-in-chief Maloney (Katherine Kelly), a stern woman who tows the company line and who seems to have something to prove. As Paddy and McVie close in on the case, things get violent and it turns out that there's a lot more to this than any of them realized… but will the new woman in charge even let them print the story once the crack it?

Both storylines are quite tense and exciting, offering up interesting characters and some effectively gloomy locations. There's a good sense of mystery here, the production team do a fine job of crafting suspense will keeping things realistically grounded. Additionally the attention to period detail throughout the show is impressive, you'll notice it not just in the costumes but the soundtrack, the background details, the furnishings and the cars seen throughout the show. It's also nicely shot, slickly edited and features very strong production values.

The supporting cast are all very good here. In series one Capaldi steals the show, though it should be said that he's only in it for ten minutes or so, total. He's an interesting character though and he plays the part well. David Morrissey gets more screen time and appears in both runs, and while initially it's easy to dislike him (he tells Paddy ‘you're just the fat tart who makes the coffee') it becomes more obvious as the storylines play out that he has an affection for her and an appreciation for her work ethic and her honesty. Bronagh Gallagher is also well used here, playing Paddy's stern mother. The relationship that exists between them is interesting, particularly when the family's strict Catholicism is brought into play.

Despite the fact that Capaldi and Morrissey share the cover art with Jayd Johnson, she is the real star of the show. The series revolves around her character and the young actress plays the part very well. Paddy is not a perfect person, not even close. She makes plenty of mistakes and there are times where her moral judgment is more than a little bit cloudy. Like her mother and her editor, however, she means well in her own way and watching her balance family life with her burgeoning career is interesting. By the time we get to the second series she's grown a bit and has taken on a bigger role. Characters from that first run completely disappear without a trace, that might throw some viewers off a bit, but the series remains Jayd Johnson's show and she carries it well. No word on a series three at the time of this writing, but it'd be a shame if they didn't continue with this.

The DVD:

Video:

The four episodes that make up this series are spread across two discs and framed at 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen, presumably the series' proper original broadcast aspect ratio. Image quality is fine here, detail isn't half bad at all for a standard definition presentation and while the locations used for most of the series isn't the most colorful you'll ever see, colors would seem to be completely accurate. Skin tones look fine, black levels are solid and there are no issues to not with any heavy compression artifacts, noise reduction or edge enhancement. Additionally, as this would seem to have been shot on high end digital video, the picture is consistently clean and obviously free of any print damage.

Sound:

The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks on this set are of solid quality. There's some good left to right separation and the levels are properly balanced throughout. The score and effects come through clearly without burying the performers and there are no issues of note with any hiss or distortion. Optional English closed captioning is provided.

Extras:

Extras? Outside of a simple still gallery for series one and static menus and chapter selection, there aren't any. The DVD case does come with a cardboard slipcover though.

Final Thoughts:

The first series of The Field Of Blood is excellent and strong enough on its own to recommend this release. The second series? Not nearly as good, but still entertaining enough. Those with an interest in character driven crime dramas and mystery stories will probably appreciate this, and the strong cast and interesting Scottish locations help to make it stand out a bit.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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