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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Christopher Ravenscroft ...
Paola Dionisotti ...
Dorothy Sanders
...
Lesley Arbel
Ian Fitzgibbon ...
Clifford Sanders
Hugh Lloyd ...
Ralph Robson
...
Reese
Louie Ramsay ...
Deborah Poplett ...
Tony Vogel ...
Roy Carroll
David Fleeshman ...
Serge Olson
Arthur Hewlett ...
Archie Greaves
...
John Whitton
...
Nina Jago
Paula Jacobs ...
Dita Jago
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based on novel | See All (1) »

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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17 December 1989 (UK)  »

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The second half is good but the first half is a mess of disjointed threads that didn't engage me at all
2 April 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When a woman is found strangled to death Detective Inspector Burden believes that the only possible killer would be Clifford Saunders – a disturbed young man shaped by an oppressive mother who left his psychology session early and has no alibi for the crime. Wexford meanwhile has his doubts but has other things on his mind with his famous daughter arrested for trying to break into a nuclear weapons site. When he barely escapes a car bomb attack, Wexford is stuck in hospital and is plagued by visions and half memories that make little sense.

I've never really made the effort to get into any significant detective film series from the UK; sure I watch the Columbo's and the Perry Masons but the Morse and Wexford series never really attracted me. Despite that I decided to give this one a try but have to confess to finding very little to encourage me to come back and try this series again. The plot is a little too confused and it doesn't handle the different threads well at all, leaving me a bit confused about whether it was all meant to be connected or was I meant to be really interested in Wexford's private life (and if I was then why wasn't it better done). Parts of it work well and when it does settle down towards the end it gets more interesting but long sections of the first hour are pretty poor – with Wexford's "David Lynch-lite" dream sequence being bewilderingly bad.

The look of the film has dated quite badly but it isn't helped by how very "tv" McMurray's direction is. She can't do anything with the material and she actually contributes to the film being a bit messy for the first half. Baker is solid enough as Wexford and as the film settled into a "normal" mystery I actually started to like him as a character, but it was a bit too little too late. Ravenscroft also got better as the film went on and his character's obsession with his suspect is well done. Fitzgibbon and Dionisotti both play their roles straightforwardly but effectively enough to work.

Overall this is a pretty dull film that only gets interesting in the second half. The first half is messy and hard to care about but it does get better once it settles down a bit. The cast are solid enough but I was rather put off by the story itself and I'm not sure it did enough to make me bother coming back to the series again.


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