I was going to call this posting “Creepy and Brilliant DVDs” but my friend and colleague Shery said that many people would never read about anything that was “creepy.” So I bow to her wisdom and introduce you to two very dark and very brilliantly conceived DVD series – Trial and Retribution and Red Riding.
Both are British, neither has appeared on PBS and each depicts human nature at its worst and best.
Trial and Retribution is a 4-set DVD series ala Law and Order (but better). The series is the brainchild of the twisted mind of creator and writer Lynda La Plante (Prime Suspect). Each set contains three feature-length murder mysteries, following them from crime to trial. T&R stars David Hayman as the driven and hard-bitten Detective Superintendent Michael Walker. In sets 1-2, he is paired with his live-in companion and fellow cop, Detective Inspector Pat North (Kate Buffery). In sets 3-4 Buffery is replaced by Detective Chief Inspector Róisín Connor, portrayed by Victoria Smurfit. The acting in this series is superb, the crimes are horrendous, the plots are complex, the tension is palpable, no character emerges undamaged and the endings are never neat enough nor satisfying enough to mitigate the pain of the victims or the viewer’s sense of unease. Inventive, first-rate stuff.
Red Riding is another power-packed drama featuring depravity, murder and vice in Northern England. RR is a British made-for-TV trilogy based on writer David Peace’s quartet about serial murders and police corruption in Britain. The set features three films entitled 1974, 1980, 1983. Based on actual events, these films follow several characters in intertwining storylines united by the horror wrought by the "Yorkshire Ripper.” Once again, the landscape is bleak and violent, the acting is uniformly excellent, the plotting is intricate and the whole thing is thoroughly absorbing – if you have the stomach for it. RR shines a bright light on the dark side of human nature and in the end, there are no winners. But what dazzling story telling.
Both of these series are available in the library’s collection as are two of David Peace’s Red Riding novels.