Monday, 4 March 2013

Quincy, ME and the Jack Taylor Collection DVD REVIEW

Quincy, ME series 3 on DVD
Quincy, ME series 3
DVD: ★★★½ 

Jack Klugman, who passed away over last Christmas, was the popular star of 12 Angry Men, TV's The Odd Couple and latterly Quincy, ME, the third series of which is released today on DVD and should help keep fond memories of the actor alive.

The series ran from 1976 to 1983, a good stretch in the ultra-competitive world of US network TV, with Klugman winning a new fanbase as the inquisitive LA pathologist who was constantly butting heads with the cops. The format was routine, with a death occurring each week, appearing to be down to natural causes. Then Quincy, usually assisted by his lab helper Sam (Robert Ito, pictured together, below), would notice a discrepancy, suspect foul play and turn detective himself.

Jack Klugman and Robert Ito in Quincy, ME
Quincy, ME preceded the contemporary obsession for dramas based on forensic pathology and is obviously far less explicit than today's hit dramas such as CSI and Silent Witness. It was a family-friendly mystery that grew out of NBC's Mystery Movie slot, which included 1970s hits such as Columbo, McCloud and McMillan.

And it was undoubtedly Klugman's turn as the principled, irascible medical expert that won it a place in the viewing habits of audiences in the US and UK.

Quincy, ME series 3 (Acorn Media UK), RRP £25.99, release date 4 March 2013, running time 953 minutes on six discs, certificate 12

Iain Glen as Jack Taylor

The Jack Taylor Collection
DVD: ★★★★
Extras: ★★★ 

Channel 5 is currently riding high with these three excellent films about former Irish cop Jack Taylor, starring Iain Glen.

Based on the superb novels of Ken Bruen, these three films – The Guards, The Pikemen and The Magdalen Martyrs – do a fine job of capturing the Galway 'finder' with all his rough edges. Taylor rarely wins a fight, but he will never back down when taking on the cases the cops won't touch.

Iain Glen, here a long from Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey, wanted to take on the role despite his heavy schedule, and he is very watchable as the down-at-heel, damaged former Guard. We first meet him chasing down the speeding saloon car of a government minister in the pilot, The Guards.

When the minister, whom Jack dislikes because he won't support Ireland's nurses, gets out of his car to give the detective a dressing down, Jack punches his lights out. Hence, the end of his career.

'He's self-destructive, he drinks, takes drugs, but he has a moral centre,' director Stuart Orme says in the extra features. 'He wants to do the right thing.'

The three 90-minute films see him risking everything to take on vigilantes and stick his nose into frightening conspiracies. They are full of atmosphere and strong characters, while delving into the dark side of Irish society on occasion. And they leave quite a few UK police procedurals in the shade.

The Jack Taylor Collection (Acorn Media UK), RRP £25.99, release date 11 March 2013, running time 281 minutes on three discs, certificate 15