Monday, March 01, 2010

Mysteries on TV Review: A Mind to Kill, Series 1

Mysteries on TV

is pleased to publish a review of a "Mystery on TV", a television series or movie featuring either a detective, amateur sleuth, or private investigator, or a mystery, suspense, or crime drama with an ensemble cast, that is now available on DVD.

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A Mind to Kill Series 1 (DVD Cover)
More information about A Mind to Kill Series 1

A Mind to Kill Series 1

Original air date(s): November 1994 through January 1995.
DVD release date: 02/02/2010.

Recurring characters: Noel Bain (Philip Madoc), Hannah Bain (Ffion Wilkins), Margaret Edwards (Sharon Morgan), Alison Griffiths (Gillian Elisa), Carwyn Phillips (Geraint Lewis), Jack Bevan (Meic Povey).

Rating: Not Rated (but comparable to TV-MA for occasional course language and brief nudity).
Running time: 596 minutes.

The series was originally filmed in both English and Welsh, though only the English version is available on the DVD.

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A Mind to Kill Series 1

Review: Philip Madoc stars as Detective Chief Inspector Noel Bain in this superior crime drama filmed on location in Wales and featuring a largely Welsh cast of actors. The six episodes included in this set take place at a variety of locations in Wales, thanks in part to a new mobile crime unit (essentially a large mobile home outfitted with high-tech communications and basic forensic equipment) that is transported to the scene of a crime.

The mystery plots are sophisticated and solidly plotted, not so much whodunits but more along the lines of police procedurals. The stories are often grim, the outcomes not always positive -- much like real crime in real life.

The series has a very noir-ish look to it. Most scenes take place at night or under overcast skies during the day, giving them a dark, at times gritty, feel. There isn't much color here, and it's clearly not an image promoted by the tourist bureau, but all this adds rather than detracts from the appeal of the series.

Madoc seems perfectly cast as the lead investigator for the crimes depicted in each episode. In the series, he's a widower with a 17-year-old daughter, who resents that her father's profession interferes so much with her life. A multi-episode story arc involves her growing dissatisfaction, from something as simple as trying to plan a vacation with her father to him interfering in her young love life. There is also an underlying theme through these episodes that involves the transition of the region, from the loss of industrial and agricultural jobs to fragmentation of communities and the political upheaval that resulted. More importantly to the Police Department, the introduction and employment of modern forensic techniques is shown to be an effective method of solving crimes, though not at the expense of good instinct and feet on the ground.

A Mind To Kill ran for five "series" in Wales, on an irregular basis from 1994 through 2002. ("Series" is not an exact equivalent to "season" in the US, but the concept is similar.) It was commissioned following the success of a 1991 made-for-television film, Noson yr Heliwr, which served as the pilot. (Note: the pilot is not included on this DVD set.) To my knowledge, the series has not aired on any television network in the US.

The six episodes in A Mind To Kill, each of which runs about 100 minutes, are (with descriptions provided by the studio):

Episode 1: "Black Silence"
During a strike at the local coal mine, Bain investigates the murder of a 17-year-old prostitute. He suspects that the powerful, intimidating strike leader Roderick Tate is involved, but the evidence points to another man.

Episode 2: "White Rocks"
A young mother is beaten to death at a run-down holiday camp, and her 7-year-old son—who may have witnessed the crime—disappears. Racing against time to find the boy before the murderer does, Bain uncovers secrets worth killing for.

Episode 3: "Gameboys"
When the charred body of a young man is found in a peaceful farming community, Bain’s investigation leads to a series of shocking discoveries: drugs, rent boys, and a town elder who’s not as respectable as he seems.

Episode 4: "Rest Not Secure"
A gang war is brewing, but Bain is preoccupied with troubles at home: his teenage daughter, Hannah, has moved out, resentful of his job as a policeman. When Bain retreats to a remote cabin for some privacy, he is taken hostage by an escaped prisoner bent on revenge.

Episode 5: "Son of His Works"
A gruesome killing in the woods links a secretive religious cult to a troubled urban neighborhood and a heroin dealer to a prominent married judge and his lover. Bain must untangle a web of clues to learn the truth behind the murder and expose a fraud.

Episode 6: "Rachel Hardcastle"
Bain is flattered by the romantic attentions of Rachel Hardcastle, a successful concert pianist and sophisticated, attractive woman. Then her husband turns up dead, and Bain becomes the prime suspect in his murder.

A Mind to Kill is a remarkable, and certainly not typical, crime drama that I highly recommend. My rating: 3½ (of 4) stars.

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Formats and/or viewing options:
Purchase A Mind to Kill Series 1 on DVD

More information about the series can be found at Mysteries on TV: A Mind to Kill.

Reviewed on 03/01/2010 by Mr. E., television and film critic for Mystery Books News

Review Copyright © 2010— Omnimystery — All Rights Reserved

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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