Wire in the Blood - Justice Painted
Wellspring // Unrated // $24.98 // March 16, 2004
Review by John Sinnott | posted March 23, 2004
Highly Recommended
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Graphical Version
The Movie:

Dr. Tony Hill is a brilliant clinical psychologist specializing in psychopathic criminals.  He strongly believes that even abnormal behavior follows patterns:  That there is a reason for the methods and actions of serial criminals.  The trick is to find the twisted logic behind their actions.  It is something that Dr. Hill is very good at.  Given enough time, he can get inside the mind of a criminal and feel what they are feeling, think what they are thinking.  This makes him very helpful in tracking down brutal serial killers.  But he is so obsessed with his work, that he has a hard time relating to normal people.  He can't have an ongoing relationship with anyone but his patients.

The police call in Dr. Hill after a twenty-year-old girl is found strangled with a bag over her head.  The number two is pinned onto her clothing, and her murder closely resembles that of another murder that occurred three years ago.  In that case, an 11-year-old girl, Trudy Hibbert, was taken from her yard, killed, and left in the forest.  The police arrested a Paul Gregory, a known pedophile, for the murder.  He was tried, but the jury found him innocent.  Now the police think that Gregory might be responsible for this second murder, but Tony is not too sure.  There are many similarities, but some subtle, though striking, differences.  The way the body was left, and the age of the victim for example.  But when an old woman is found dead with a number three pinned to her, the situation heats up.  What is the connection between the two victims, and was Trudy victim number one, or is there a body that they haven't found yet?

Part police procedural, part psychological drama and part whodunit, Wire in the Blood is a fascinating show.  The story unfolds slowly as the police find the evidence.  You feel their frustration over a lack of leads as more bodies start showing up.  The tension builds as the story progresses.  As each clue is discovered, you're never sure if it is something valid, or an error that will lead to a dead end.  There are several possible suspects that the police consider, but, like the best detective novels, you are never sure who has a motive that is strong enough to lead to murder.  The show is able to weave all these elements together to create a very engrossing and interesting show.

The character of Dr. Hill is a very interesting one.  Like Fitz in Cracker, he is a brilliant man, but a flawed one.  He has many personal foibles, and his analysis is not always correct, though he is always confident of his conclusions.  This combination of high intelligence and character flaws makes him both realistic and captivating.

As with the previous disc that I saw, the acting was superb.  Robson Green gave a convincing performance as the brilliant but eccentric psychologist.  As good as his performance was, Hermione Norris stole the show as the single, aging, workaholic police officer.  She was able to make D.I. Jordan seem lonely without being pitiful, and emotionally strong but still feminine.  The supporting actors all gave solid performances too.

Originally shown on the BBC, this series is better than its made-for-TV origins would led you to believe.  The script is very tight and well thought out, with many twists and turns and the occasional red herring.  It is also more intense than most TV police shows.  Though this is a British murder mystery, it is not cozy.  There is not as much violence as there was in the first installment of the series, but it is still a fairly intense show and more sensitive viewers might be put off.

There are two episodes presented on this DVD, which represent an entire story.  The previous two volumes, The Mermaids Singing [review] and Shadows Rising, were adapted from novels by Val McDermid. This installment of the series was an original story based on McDermid's characters.  While I thought the first DVD was contained a slightly better story, I don't think the series suffered from being an original work.

The DVD:


The only audio track is an English stereo mix.  There are no subtitles.  The sound is very clear and crisp.  Since there is 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.


British television shows, even recent ones, have not looked their best when released in the US.  (Generally speaking of course.  Some are outstanding.)   Often mastered from poor prints with a multitude of compression artifacts present, I've come to expect the worst from British shows, picture wise.  Imagine my surprise when I popped this disc in.  The picture was very good.  Much cleaner than any other shows imported from across the pond that I've seen lately (with the exception of the remastered Dr. Who shows.)  The picture was clear and not fuzzy like some resent releases.  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.

The Extras:

This disc has only the barest of extras.  There is a trailer and text biographies of the main characters as well as the author of the book these two episodes were based on.

Final Thoughts:

This is an excellent show.   The characters are all three-dimensional and the acting is top notch.  But it is the strong script that makes this show so enjoyable.  The mix of police procedural, psychological drama and whodunit sounds like it would end up as an unwatchable mess, but just the opposite is true in this case.  The show is engrossing, captivating and entertaining.  A great way to spend the evening.  Highly Reccomended.

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