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Proof: Prescription for Murder

Koch Vision // Unrated // April 10, 2007
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by David Cornelius | posted May 15, 2007 | E-mail the Author
I first encountered the 2004 Irish TV miniseries "Proof" earlier this year, calling it such critic-y things as "a rousing, completely absorbing mystery" and "the television equivalent of a real page-turner." (You can read the full review here.) Upon finishing the series, I eagerly anticipated the chance to catch its follow-up, which premiered in 2005 and, like its predecessor, is overdue in making its way across the pond.

The follow-up series is called "Proof: Prescription For Murder," which is right away a bad sign - the first title is unnecessary, as the title was a key theme of its predecessor but not so much here, while the second title has the generic ring of, say, the sort of mystery in which Ben Matlock or Jessica Fletcher might appear. (Note: IMDB lists the title instead as "Proof 2.") The mystery at hand here is just as complicated and cross-plotted as the first series, with our esteemed investigative journalists Terry Corcoran (Finbar Lynch) and Maureen Boland (Orla Brady) uncovering a scandal involving a pharmaceutical company, a new anti-depressant drug, an upcoming merger, and, of course, murder.

Written by Tim Loane and directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan ("The Heart of Me"), "Prescription For Murder" is about as well made as a project like this can possibly be - like its predecessor, the cast is outstanding, the story is enjoyably multi-layered - while also being, well, just a little too dull. The urgency of the original series seems strangely absent this time out. The journeys into the characters' personal lives feel lesser, as if more out of obligation than of a genuine need to flesh out the story. And the whole mystery lacks the same zing.

There are great moments sprinkled throughout for those willing to wait for them, most notably the storyline involving a troubled man accused of murder. Plus, the series' keen eye for bitter social commentary is still sharp in spots. (Terry's editor reads his latest column and beams, "That'll be dynamite beside the dead baby," thoughts of hot sales based on shock-value front page pics swimming in his head.) But there's just too little else here to give it that same page-turner quality. Plot elements quickly fade from memory, the conspiracy is less interesting, and several "suspense" scenes come across as forced and a bit too hackneyed. (A cliffhanger involving a car crash should be a jaw-dropper, but it's so poorly staged it earns only a shrug.)

All of this is a shame, as the makers of the first series managed to use essentially the same elements to deliver higher quality storytelling. These are excellent characters in the hands of an excellent cast, and the producers obviously trust the audience's intelligence enough to give them both complex plotlines and enough down time to concentrate on the people traveling through them. And yet all of this still can't quite make a sequel worthy of the original series. "Prescription For Murder" is competent, but not compelling.

The DVD

Koch Vision collects all four 50-minute episodes of "Proof: Prescription For Murder" onto two discs, two episodes per disc, housed in a single-wide keep case with a hinged holder for the second disc.

Video & Audio

Just as with "Proof," the sequel series looks fairly solid, if just a bit soft, in its original 1.33:1 broadcast format. The Dolby stereo soundtrack offers no problems. No subtitles are provided, so good luck with those Irish accents.

Extras

None, except for some previews for other Koch releases that play when you load the first disc; you can skip past them.

Final Thoughts

Those of you looking for some intricate mystery/suspense will do fine to Rent It, as there's just enough here to make a one-time viewing worth the time - although you'd be better off tracking down the first series instead.
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