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Blue Murder (Set 1) - British mystery television series DVD review
BLUE MURDER (SET 1) Not Rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 stars
Actors: Caroline Quentin, Ian Kelsey, David Schofield
Directors: Alex Pillai, Paul Wroblewski   Studio: Acorn Media
DVD release: 12 June 2007   Runtime: 416 minutes (3 discs)
Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Widescreen
Features: Audio tracks (English, Dolby Digital Stereo), 6 episodes

It takes a bit of stubbornness to actually get into the British mystery series Blue Murder (or is that perhaps simply my tainted American viewpoint?). It is very different from our fast-paced, glamorous crime shows.

That aside, one has to love the main character. By American standards, she is an unconventional character. I adore her for that. She is the feisty, round, single mom to almost 4 children and she solves murders. Whoa. Seems like in the States if we have a woman who is bigger than a size 4, she is cast as the poor, sad best friend and the focus of her character is the fact that she is fat. In Blue Murder, her weight and size don't come up once. She's beautifully unapologetic and graceful - and is often seen to eat and enjoy cookies and pastries on the go! Though soft of voice, she is outspoken when she needs to be. Caroline Quentin as Janine Lewis is a strong leading lady, easy to understand and identify with.

The first two episodes - the pilot - are spent solving one major crime and originally aired in May of 2003. The third episode, which was aired the following September, begins what feels like an entirely new season. We have new, fresh crimes to solve. Beyond that, however, the main character appears to have an entirely new life upon first glance; one has to wonder if it is, indeed, the same story. The baby has been born, looks to be 4 months old-ish and has a nanny. The house is different, as is the vehicle that Janine drives. Details, yes, but details do make up the whole. It is noticeably jarring.

Pete is her ex-husband, "ex" after 18 years of marriage. He left her for young Tina, while Janine was pregnant with their 4th child. So here we have life, messy, messy life, lived by a gloriously curvaceous and intelligent woman. The television shows of the U.S. could stand to learn a bit from the British crime dramas.

Other notable characters, outside of her family, are the regulars whom she works with. Her partner, Richard, seems to harbor some minor irritation that he was pushed back to her second during her maternity leave, but he works reasonably well with her anyway. Her boss, "The Lemon," is an emotionally screwy fellow who runs the division with little heart for his employees. He plays Janine and Richard off each other, dangling the lead position between them as motivator to work harder. Butchers is glad to see her back in the game, post-baby. He looks like a bit of a sweetie with his red hair and rosy cheeks but does the job with integrity. The slime ball, Shap, rounds out the group. He leers at all the pretty young things and gets to work in a slightly underhanded fashion. He is definitely a necessary part of the crew, for all that he makes the skin crawl a bit.

The mysteries themselves are full of twists and turns, as any good murder mystery ought to be. There are more questions than answers, right up until the end. Each episode seems much longer than it is, however. That is one minor complaint that can be lodged against Blue Murder. They are 69 minutes each, which is a little longer than a typical American show, but they do seem much longer than that most times. The only real annoyance is that, overwhelmingly, the mysteries seem to revolve around some twisted variety of extreme sexual perversion, in the end. They go beyond the CSI ilk. They can be a little tough to take and can turn the tummy.

Overall, the stories are well-thought-out, and the characters are entirely believable and easy to enjoy. For a mystery buff, Blue Murder might definitely be one to take time out for.

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reviewed by Carolynn Evans
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