‘Inspector Lewis: The Complete Series’ Is A Fitting Final Farewell For The Hit Crime Drama

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS

Inspector Morse, the hit crime drama from itv Studios and PBS, finally made its final bow late last year when it wrapped production of the hit crime drama’s eighth season. Over the course of the past nine years, Robbie Lewis have kept audiences enthralled with his modern-day Sherlock Holmes style sleuthing.  But as the old adage states, all good things must come to an end…or must they?  Next week, PBS Distribution will release Inspector Morse: The Complete Series on DVD, allowing audiences to relive every one of the series’ stories any time that they want.  There is a lot for audiences to appreciate about this set beginning with the most obvious of its elements, its packaging.  That will be discussed shortly.  The series’ episode guide is another important element to discuss. It will be covered later.  The set’s price rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is clearly important in its own right to the set’s overall presentation.  All things considered, Inspector Morse: The Complete Series proves itself to be one of the year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.

Inspector Morse: The Complete Series is one of this year’s top new box sets for grown-up audiences.  It is a wonderful way for fans to say not goodbye but hello all over again to the hit UK crime drama.  That is due in part to the series set’s packaging.  The set’s 34 total episodes are spread across 18 total discs within three separate cases.  That sounds like a lot on the surface.  But in reality, PBS Distribution is to be highly commended for its work ensuring the series’ packaging turned out quite ergonomically sound.  As a way to illustrate how smart the set’s packaging is, it is the exact same depth and width as the series’ previously released Season 1 – 6 box set, which was released in 2007.  That means that the packaging used to house this set saves quite a bit of space on audiences’ DVD/BD racks since Season 7 and Season 8 were released in their own standalone boxes separate from that six-season set. Keeping this in mind, the set’s packaging proves to be quite the positive to its overall presentation.  It is only one of the positives to note of the set, too.  Its episode guide is worth noting, too.

The packaging that houses Inspector Lewis: The Complete Series is in itself a key part of the set’s presentation.  That is because of its ergonomic value.  In comparison to the series’ six season set and its standalone sets for Seasons seven and eight, this full series set’s packaging definitely saves some space.  It is just one part of what makes the set’s presentation stand out.  The set’s episode guide is just as important to note as its packaging.  Sadly though, that is both a good and bad thing.  On the good side, each standalone box within the larger set lists the episodes contained within each disc.  The down side to the episode guide is that there is no actual guide providing an episode summary of the episodes inside the boxes.  This seems like a minor issue on the surface.  But in the bigger picture, it does detract from the set’s overall presentation.  That is because something as simple as an episode summary, even a brief, concise summary, can make a world of difference in a set’s presentation.  That is because even as simple as it might be, it helps a viewer decide which episode he or she wants to watch at given moment.  To that extent, the set’s episode guide is not perfect but still is a positive at least to a point.  It is still not the only remaining element to examine in the set’s presentation.  The set’s pricing is just as important to note as its packaging and its episode guide.

The packaging used to house Inspector Lewis: The Complete Series’ 18 discs and the episode guide used to help viewers make their way through the series are both key elements to note in examining the set’s presentation.  The packaging is a clear positive.  The episode guide, however, is a bit of a double-edged sword so to speak.  It is a positive.  But there is a downside to it, too.  Even with that in mind, the set in whole is still a win despite that one negative.  Having minded all of this, there is still one more element to note in examining the set’s presentation.  That final element is the set’s pricing.  The set is seeing a very wide range of pricing from its different outlets.  Both Best Buy and Amazon have the series’ set listed below $70.  more specifically, each outlet has the set listed at $68.99.  Of course shipping and handling adds a little more to the price.  But that still keeps the set’s price well below the $100 mark.  PBS’ online store is the most expensive, listing the set at $94.99.  That is still below the MSRP of $99.99 in PBS’ defense.  So even with some shipping and handling, it will still again be just below the $100 mark.  On the surface this doesn’t seem significant.  But when one adds up the prices for the series’ other standalone sets, the price for this full-series set is still comparably much more affordable.  When one sets that fact alongside the set’s space-saving packaging and its episode guide, double-edged as it may be, then one will agree that the pricing is in fact its own important part of the set’s presentation if not one of its most important elements.  Keeping all of this in mind, one can say that all things considered, Inspector Lewis: The Complete Series is still a win overall, and one of the year’s top new box sets for grown-up audiences.

Inspector Lewis: The Complete Series is one of this year’s top new box sets for grown-ups and a must have for any true fan of the series.  That can be argued by examining the set’s space-saving packaging first and foremost.  The episode guide that is included with the set, despite being both a pro and a con, still does its own part to add to the set’s presentation.  The set’s pricing, which would appear to remain below $100 regardless of the outlet from which it is ordered, is the finishing touch to the set.  It isn’t cheap.  There’s no denying that.  But in comparison to the total price of owning all eight seasons alone –or other related variances—it proves to be quite affordable.  All things considered, this brand new full series set from Inspector Lewis proves in whole to be, again, one of the year’s top new box sets for grown-ups and a must have for any of the series’ hardcore fans.  Inspector Lewis: The Complete Series will be available next Tuesday, Oct. 18.  More information on this and other PBS Masterpiece series is available online now at:

 

 

 

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Mr. Selfridge Season Two Coming To Blu-ray, DVD This Spring

Courtesy: PBS/ITV Studios

Courtesy: PBS/ITV Studios

ITV Studios’ hugely popular series Mr. Selfridge just wrapped its second season across the pond. And it just started here on Masterpiece yesterday. In coordination of the U.S. debut of Season 2, ITV Studios and Masterpiece have partnered to release Season Two on Blu-ray and DVD this Spring.

Mr. Selfridge Season Two will be released to the masses on Blu-ray and DVD April 29th. The series, starring Jeremy Piven (Entourage, PCU) follows the famed businessman that changed the face of business in London in the early twentieth century and his business, Selfridge & Co. Season Two of Mr. Selfridge runs a total of 7.5 hours over three discs and features the original U.K. edition of Season Two. Frances O’Conner (Madame Bovary) returns for Season Two in the role of Harry Selfridge’s wife Rose as does Aisling Loftus (Page Eight) as Agnes Towler. Also back for Season Two are: Amanda Abbington (Sherlock Season 3) as Miss Mardle, and Ron Cook (Little Dorrit) as Mr. Crabb.
There is sure to be more drama for Harry Selfridge in Season Two as Katherine Kelly (Coronation Street) returns once again as Lady Mae. Gregory Fitoussi (World War Z) is back, too as Henri LeClair. Samuel West (Any Human Heart) reprises his role as enterprising journalist Frank Edwards. Selfrdige’s personnel director Mr. Grove is once more played by Tom Goodman-Hill (Downton Abbey). And Trystan Gravelle (Anonymous) also returns again as the dashing manager of Selfridge’s Palm Court Restaurant, Victor Colleano.

Audiences will see plenty of familiar faces in Season Two of Mr. Selfridge. They will also see some new faces. Polly Walker (Miss Marple) joins the cast of Mr. Selfridge as Delphine Day, author of numerous steamy novels and proprietress of a new nightclub. Also joining the cast for the first time this season are Cal Macaninch (Downton Abbey) and Aiden McArdle (Jane Eyre) as new head of fashion at Selfridge & Co. Mr. Thackeray, and Lord Loxley, Lady Mae’s estranged husband.

Season Two of Mr. Selfridge opens in the Spring of 1914. The store is now celebrating its fifth anniversary. There have been lots of changes at Selfridge & Co. in terms of staff. Harry’s wife Rose has even inexplicably returned to London after having left Harry to return to America at the end of Season One. There are sure to be even more changes as the shadow of World War I looms over London.

More information on Mr. Selfridge Season Two and the series in general is available online at https://www.facebook.com/masterpiecepbs, http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs, and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece. It can be pre-ordered now via the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=32224996&cp=3529703.20384186&ab=Aspot_Selfridge_3.30.14&parentPage=family.

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Raise The Titanic Is Unsinkable In Its New Re-Issue

Courtesy: itv Studios/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: itv Studios/Shout! Factory

The sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic is one of the most talked about tragedies in the history of transportation.  The ship, said to be unsinkable, went down on its maiden voyage in 1912.  Over a century after that doomed cruise, that tragic event remains at the forefront of so many people’s minds.  That is thanks in large part to the countless documentaries and movies that have been churned out by movie studios and television networks over the past half century, the least of which being 1997’s story of a doomed romance, Titanic.  Thankfully there have been more enjoyable stories such as the famous The Band Played On and the 1980 drama that was Raise The Titanic.  Now twenty-four years after that movie debuted, it has been resurrected for the masses by itv Studios and Shout! Factory.  The movie, based on author Clive Cussler’s novel by the same name, uses the Cold War as a backdrop for its plot.  It’s just part of the writing that makes this movie worth watching at least once.  The movie’s script is just part of what makes Raise The Titanic worth at least one watch.  The movie’s soundtrack is another important aspect of the overall presentation.  John Williams’ score captures and creates so much emotion throughout the story.  And the special effects used throughout the movie are minimalist at best.  It actually makes the movie that much better.  It’s discussed in the bonus “Making of” featurette that’s included in this re-issue.  Each of the noted factors plays a role in the success of Raise The Titanic especially now in its new life.  Together, they make this a movie that any classic movie buff will want to check out at least once.

The first aspect of Raise The Titanic that audiences will agree to be a positive is the movie’s script.  Theories about what led to the Titanic’s sinking and how to potentially raise the ship have run rampant for ages.  However author Clive Cussler’s book based on those theories was the first of its kind to gain major success.  The same can be said of the final product crafted by screenwriter Adam Kennedy and his writing partner Eric Hughes.  To that extent, it can be argued that both the book and the script that it spawned were both quite original in their own right.  In hindsight, it’s interesting to see how prophetic this story turned out to be, even if it did change some things from Cussler’s original book.  Not that many years ago, the Costa Concordia wrecked off the Italian coast.  It sat there until recently when means were undertaken to lift the half-sunken ship and get it away from its crash site.  In the same way that many of the theories on how to raise the Titanic were deemed impossible (among other words), the method ultimately used to raise the Costa Concordia seemed impossible until one of those theories worked.  Having seen the Costa Concordia raised from its wreck site, one can’t help but wonder if it could be the foundation of a way to raise other ships as impossible as it might seem.

Raise The Titanic’s script is an important piece of the whole that is the movie’s success.  Just as important to the movie’s overal enjoyment is its music.  Legendary composer and maestro John Williams created a score for the movie that captures and creates so much emotion.  Nowhere is this truer than the scene in which the Titanic finally breaks the surface of the North Atlantic waters.  The moments as it makes its way into New York’s harbor are just as emotional, musically speaking.  Williams more than exhibits his ability to interpret any scene with these moments alone.  They are but a pair of moments that show how important the movie’s score is to the whole presentation.  There are far more moments throughout the movie’s near two-hour run time that exhibit just as much of Williams’ talent and that of the musicians that bring the movie’s soundtrack to life.  Audiences will find their own favorite moments when they buy or order the movie’s new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack re-issue from Shout! Factory.

The script and the soundtrack of Raise The Titanic both play pivotal roles in the movie’s success.  There is one more aspect of this movie that could be argued to trump those previously noted aspects.  That aspect is the movie’s special effects.  Watching this movie, one can’t help but make a quick comparison to the likes of The Hunt for Red October, Crimson Tide, and to a lesser degree, The Abyss.  The latter of that trio is perhaps the closest comparison.  The difference is that where James Cameron went completely overboard with his special effects, Raise The Titanic used minimalist special effects for even its biggest scene.  A couple prime examples of this less-is-more approach are the subs used to find the Titanic and the ship itself.  It turns out that the subs used in the movie were actually r/c subs.  The mock-up of the Titanic, it turns out, was actually a fifty-five foot “model” that weighed roughly ten tons.  And the methods used to raise the ship were just as interesting.  That minimalist approach to its special effects actually made the movie even more enjoyable because it forced its writers to focus on story development.  The end result was a movie that is just as rich in its special effects as it is in its story.  It makes Raise The Titanic a movie worth at least one watch by anyone that has never seen it before.

The special effects used throughout Raise The Titanic played a big role in the movie’s success thanks to the less-is-more approach taken by those behind the special effects.   There is much more worth noting, including the in-depth commentary on the movie shared in its bonus “Making of” featurette.  The commentary includes a rather damning statement regarding the over use of special effects in today’s major motion pictures.  The statement in question is made by one of the individuals that helped bring the movie’s special effects to life.  Fans can check out this statement and more when they purchase or order the movie now from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/218884.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ITV Import Another Impressive Addition To PBS’ Programming Lineup

Courtesy:  PBS/itv Studios

Courtesy: PBS/itv Studios

It’s been said time and again that people love a good story.  People also like drama.  So if this is the case, then why is it that so few people are watching PBS?  The network’s recent import of itv Studios’ Mr. Selfridge offers viewers both a good story and more than its share of drama.  The ten-part mini-series is expertly led by veteran actor Jeremy Piven (Entourage, PCU).  His performance in the role of the famed retail magnate on which the mini-series is based is his finest yet.  The same can be said of co-stars Frances O’Connor (A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Madame Bovary), Aisling Loftus (Page Eight), Zoe Tapper (Zen), Katherine Kelly (Coronation Street), Gregory Fitoussi (Spiral), and Trystan Gravelle (Anonymous).  Together with Piven (and the show’s writers), the ensemble crafted a work that fully immerses viewers both male and female into its world and keeps them engaged through each episode.  Of course, one would be remiss to omit any mention of the show’s production values in its success, too.  As viewers will note in the bonus “making of” featurette, painstaking work went into creating a historically accurate world.  The sets and costumes took massive amounts of time to get just right and accurate.  This understanding makes the final product that much more entertaining for those viewers whose minds are open enough.  By the time it’s all said and done, audiences will see that while it is a British import, much as with Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge shows even more the value and importance of PBS.

The choice of bringing in Jeremy Piven to lead the cast for this itv mini-series was the first positive choice in bringing to life Harry Gordon Selfridge’s story.  His portrayal of Selfridge was completely believable.  He presents a man that despite being a strong and self confident businessman on the surface was also emotionally fragile and complex beneath the surface.  He showed that while Selfridge was this larger than life character, he was just as human as anyone else.  It makes him deeply relatable to viewers.  That ability of viewers to relate to Selfridge is the starting point of the show’s success.   Viewers will see this for themselves when they watch the program for themselves.  On a side note, perhaps most intriguing of all about Piven being picked was why he was chosen.  It was noted in the included bonus features that an American actor was specifically wanted to portray Selfridge.  The woman that is interviewed tells viewers in her interview that while there were plenty of British actors that could easily handle an American accent, an American actor was wanted over a British actor for his role.  This is important considering how many British actors have played American roles recently.  Two prime examples would be Christian Bale and Henry Cavill as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Clark Kent/Superman respectively.  There are others, but these are the first two that come to mind.  Keeping this choice in mind, it makes Piven, the show and its heads worthy of even more respect. 

The acting on the part of Jeremy Piven and his co-stars is one of the prime reasons for the success of Mr. Selfridge.  Their ability to interpret the writing will keep viewers fully engaged from the series’ opening minutes to its bittersweet end.  Staying on that note, the writing behind Mr. Selfridge is another reason for the show’s success.  So much goes on throughout the course of the ten episodes that make up this standout British import.  Despite the number of storylines that interweave throughout the primary story, the show’s writers don’t allow the story as a whole to get bogged down even once.  Rather, the script moves fluidly and at a fast pace.  It isn’t too fast to lose viewers, either.  The different storylines incorporated into the bigger picture make the whole thing even more successful in that they will entertain both men and women.  Men will appreciate watching Selfridge’s personal journey from upstart businessman to one of London’s biggest names to an emotionally broken man.  They will enjoy seeing him in his highest of highs and lowest of lows.  Women will enjoy the series’ more soap opera style elements.  There is infighting between the women working the displays.  The infighting is the result of power struggles and to a far greater degree, romantic interests.  Because the storylines are able to keep from bogging down the mini-series as a whole, it allows viewers in general to focus on one more factor that makes Mr. Selfridge even more believable.  That factor is the series’ production values.

Viewers will see the painstaking efforts taken to make every episode believable in the set’s bonus features.  The bonus features included in the set tell a little about a lot.  This isn’t a bad thing.  Those that are interested in set construction and related topics will enjoy the discussions on how a carpet warehouse was turned into the first Selfridge & Co. store.  It’s incredible to think that such an open space could be turned into such a stunning set.  And anyone that has any interest in fashion will appreciate the discussion on making sure that the costumes worn by both the men and women were precise for the period.  Viewers will especially appreciate the discussion on the use of the corsets for women’s attire.  One of the female cast members even states that she liked using the corset and wearing clothes from the period of the story.  Not many women would likely so openly admit this.  But she did.  It’s one more entertaining and enjoyable aspect of the set that proves programming on PBS is just as valuable as any mainstream American dramas.  It is available now and can be ordered from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=19273126&cp=&sr=1&kw=selfridge&origkw=Selfridge&parentPage=search.  And for all of the latest update on PBS’ Masterpiece series, fans can go online to http://www.facebook.com/masterpiecepbs and “Like” it. 

For all of the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.