Wire in the Blood:Mermaids Singing
Wellspring // Unrated // $24.98 // November 11, 2003
Review by John Sinnott | posted December 1, 2003
Highly Recommended
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The Show:

It would be easy to dismiss Wire in the Blood:  The Mermaids Sing as a made for TV knock off of  Silence of the Lambs, but that would be selling this outstanding series short.  Both deal with psychopathic serial killers, and involve getting inside the mind of the murderer.  Like Silence of the Lambs, Wire in the Blood is suspenseful and gruesome.  But this show is more than a imitation, it is a well thought out, carefully crafted work that stands on its own merits.

Dr. Tony Hill (Robson Green) is a clinical psychologist who studies psychopathic criminals.  He is fascinated by them and wants to understand the logic that they live by.  He is thrust into the middle of a series of murders when Detective Inspector Carol Jordan (Hermione Norris) asks him to look the corpse of a murder victim.  There have been three murders, all different, yet bearing similarities.  The bodies are found nude, bathed, and with no clues to lead to the killer.  All have been tortured, but in different ways.  The police aren't even sure that the murders are related.  Though initially not interested, Dr. Hill gets drawn to the investigation like a moth to a flame.  It turns out that there is a serial killer loose in this town in northern England.  But while Dr. Hill aides the police in tracking the killer, the killer may be tracking him.

There is a lot to like about Wire in the Blood.  The plot is constructed very well.  There is just the right amount of mystery to draw you in, and it is intricate enough to keep your attention.  There are several false leads and red herrings that help move the story along and do not feel like filler.

The characters are very well fleshed out and believable.  They act in a realistic manner that is refreshing.  Dr. Hill is not infallible and makes mistakes, and D.I. Jordan reacts to his theories with a degree is skepticism that is natural for a veteran police officer, yet not dismissive.

This DVD presents the first two episodes (out of six total) of the TV series that originally aired in Britain.  The entire story is included, so you won't be left hanging at the end of the disc.  Though Wire in the Blood was made for television, don't be fooled.  It is no cozy British murder mystery where all the violence happens off screen.  This is an intense adult drama, with torture and sexual situations.  Violence is shown, but it is not gratuitous.  Definitely not a show for children of the faint at heart.

The acting is very good.  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.

Wire is a very good, intense mystery show with a lot of tension.  Part Cracker, part CSI, it is a top notch psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  I have not read the award winning book by Val McDermid that this story was taken from, but it is now on my list of books to read.

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 none the less.  Fairly good use was made of the front sound stage with certain sound effects coming from one side or the other.  I was pleased.


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 full frame 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 Cracker or Vicar of Dibley.  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.

Note: I was not able to confirm the original aspect ratio of this show. It is presented full frame, but I suspect that it was shot in widescreen. There were a few times that the framing looked off, and one instance where some of the text on a computer screen was cropped. This could have been intentional, but I have my doubts. I have given the DVD the benifit of the doubt and based my piture rating score on the assumption that it is presented as originally intended.

The Extras:

This disc has only a few 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 a psychological thriller that will keep you glued to your set.  Not for the timid, it is rather intense at times, but not gratuitous.  The video was superior to many British drama that are released in the US, and it sounds good.  Well acted with a careful plot, this show should please fans of Cracker, CSI, or Silence of the Lambs. Highly Recommended.

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