By Kieran Kinsella
When Vera burst onto the British TV detective scene last year, she was hailed as ITV’s answer to the BBC’s Wallander. The series was a huge hit in the UK and it was no surprise that network chiefs quickly persuaded actress Brenda Blethyn to return for a second season of the show. Acorn Media released the first series of the show on DVD in the U.S. earlier this year and on November 6 fans of Vera can get their hands on the latest episodes featuring Ann Cleeves’ popular character.
The first, and best story in season two is The Ghost Position. It involves Vera’s investigation of the fire bombing of her former Sergeant’s home. The victim of the crime ends up committing suicide while his daughter is still in intensive care. It doesn’t take Vera long to produce a list of suspects that includes his lover, a teacher and his daughter’s step-father. The mystery is complex but it’s Vera’s personal connection to the victim that really makes this story something special.
The other three stories in the series are Silent Voices, Sandancers, and A Certain Samaritan. Each tale involves a murder and the victims include a heroin addict, a soldier and a social worker. Guest stars in season two include Julie Graham (The Bletchley Circle), Phyllis Logan (Downton Abbey) and Judy Parfitt (Call the Midwife). However, while the cast includes no shortage of talented performers, Brean Blethyn as the indomitable Vera is the reason that this show is such a hit. The boxset includes 4 discs and costs just $59.99. Click below for a sneak peak and then scroll down for more DVD news.
Cornwall With Caroline Quentin is a light-hearted documentary series about the region of Southern England that Ross Poldark once called home. The host, Caroline Quentin is probably best known in the UK as the ex-wife of comic Paul Merton. In the U.S. there are probably very few people who have heard of her but she did star alongside Doc Martin’s Martin Clunes in Men Behaving Badly. She also had a prominent role in Jonathan Creek so while you might not know her name you’ll probably recognize her face.
Quentin lives in nearby Devon and she has been making frequent visits to Poldark country since she was a child. It’s clear that she knows the area like the back of her hand and it’s also apparent that she has a deep love for the rugged coastal area that we explore over the course of eight episodes in this DVD boxset.
The danger with employing a comic as a travel show host is that the comedienne may dominate proceedings with wise cracks that detract from the main focus of the show. Luckily, Quentin follows Michael Palin’s lead and keeps her gags in check and allows Cornwall to speak for itself – well for the most part anyway.
As you’d expect, Quentin meets some interesting characters on her travels and we also learn about many of the local traditions and festivals that give the area its distinctive character. To compliment the onscreen material, the boxset also includes a 12 page booklet and some nice photo galleries. For $39.99, you get almost three hours of Cornish culture and at that price this is a boxset that’s well worth buying.
Narrow Escapes of World War II was a huge hit when it aired on the Military channel in the U.S. Athena Learning are now releasing the fascinating documentary series on DVD. The 13 episode, 653 minute dvd boxset completes the November 6 Acorn/Athena new release line-up.
Most of us are familiar with The Great Escape, Schindler’s List, The Bridge Over The River Kwai and other tales of heroism from World War II. This set involves equally gripping but rather less well known tales involving military men from around the globe. The producers use a mixture of rare film footage, witness accounts,re-enactments, and commentaries from historians and military experts to recreate the action as it happened.
Narrow Escapes of World War II reminds viewers of the truly global reach of the war that reshaped modern society. This isn’t a series that focuses on just one aspect of the war it’s a show that covers a wide range of topics and fascinating characters. Over the course of the series we learn about events that occurred in France, Russia, Nepal, Japan, Germany and elsewhere. Additionally, the boxset includes over an hour of footage that never aired when the show was broadcast in the U.S. You also get a 16 page viewer’s guide that includes maps and other supplementary information. The 4 disc collection will set you back $79.99 but if history is your thing then it’s a price well worth paying for over 10 hours of footage.
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