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Wire in the Blood: Prayer of the Bone
Every once in a while a TV show feels the need to shake things up, so they'll often have the cast travel to some exotic locale. The Brady Bunch went to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon, Absolutely Fabulous visited New York City, and even Doctor Who recorded an episode in France. Now it's Tony Hill's time to travel abroad in the Wire in the Blood TV Special Prayer of the Bone. In this story Dr. Hill finds himself in the wilds of Texas trying to cope with the locals who are quite different from what he's used to. While it's a good episode, as most of the series is, the story is a bit more contrived than usual which makes for a less satisfying time.
Dr. Tony Hill (Robson Green) 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.
In this show Dr. Hill is called to a small town in Texas to interview a man on trial for murder. Darius Grady (Brad Hawkins) returned home from the Iraq war to his trophy wife and two young children and brutally stabbed them to death. He then called 9-1-1 and when the police arrived he walked out of the house, covered in his family's blood with a gun in his hand. Now a year later he's on trial, but the fact that he's confessed makes this look like an open and shut case. Tony is called in by the prosecution in order to discredit the defense's contention that Grady is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Grady repeatedly tells him he killed them, but it's obvious that Iraq did not make the man kill his family.
Tony testifies as such, but he's confused about the case. Why did Darius kill his wife and children with a knife when he had a gun handy? Why are the locals in such a hurry to find him guilty, and who put a rattlesnake in Tony's rented car? With questions like that, there's no way he can leave without finding some answers.
This wasn't my favorite episode of the series. It played out like a TV detective show rather than a real murder case, a flaw that the earlier episodes of Wire in the Blood did not suffer from. The clichéd corrupt Texas government officials had me rolling my eyes, but what was worse was that a lot of the plot twists didn't make sense. At one point someone puts a rattler in Tony's car to scare or kill him. Why? If they had just let him testify and leave, they would have been rid of him much sooner. Someone Tony talks to is murdered (in a very unlikely and stupid way) for no good reason either. These felt like they were just thrown in to elongate the running time.
Tony didn't have his usual verbal sparing partner with him, which made for some awkward moments too. In one case he brings someone to his hotel room, talks to them for 3 minutes, and then kicks them out. He also rattles on in the witness chair about the problems he has with the case, which comes across as unnatural. The whole fact that a small county in Texas would import a psychologist from England is absurd, and the revelations at the end were also contrived and ludicrous.
Having said that, this is not a horrible episode. Yeah, it has some problems, but the mystery is intriguing, and there is a great red herring that gets thrown in the way. It's subtle, and that's what makes it work so well.
Robson Green does his usual wonderful job with the character of Tony Hill, and he's as interesting as ever to see work. It's just too bad that the script wasn't a bit tighter.
The only audio track is an English stereo mix and there optional English subtitles. The sound is clear and crisp for the most part. 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.
The anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen image looks pretty good overall. The picture was clear and not fuzzy like some resent BBC 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.
Not surprising given the lack of bonus material on the previous sets, this is a bare-bones disc.
I'm a big fan of the series, but this episode wasn't up to the usual standards. It's too bad, because with a little bit of tweaking, it could have been a great show. As it is, fans of Wire in the Blood would be best off renting this. It's at least worth one viewing.