Detective Jane Tennison is arguably Helen Mirren’s most famous role, and given the amount of time she invested in the part – roughly 25 hours over the course of 15 years – that shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Then again, what’s 25 hours in the grand scheme of TV? That’s only a few hours longer than one season of a typical American drama. Doesn’t sound like all that much, does it? Then it must be the quality of this dense work that makes it so worthy. In order to understand what makes Prime Suspect must-see TV on DVD, it helps to know the structure of the show.
In lieu of traditional episodic seasons, the show offers up a single storyline for each of its seven seasons, and each of those stories is comprised of two 100-minute blocks, so the stories are effectively comprised of two feature-length installments. (Only Prime Suspect 4 bucks the trend by offering three standalone 100-minute tales instead.) Through this structure, Prime Suspect is able to explore Tennison’s cases in an unusually thorough manner, and I dare suggest that this material will be best appreciated by the hardcore procedural enthusiast. If this is your kind of fare, then you owe it to yourself to see this set.
These stories twist and turn with all sorts of red herrings, roadblocks, and detours for Tennison and the various teams she works with over the course of her career. It’s easy when watching these stories to feel as if you’re caught up in an actual investigation, or perhaps it’s more like being a fly on the wall viewing the sordid proceedings.
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