Armchair Thriller by stdepue

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									"Armchair Thriller," a classic British mystery series dating from 1978, comes to us in a
four volume boxed set, consisting of four multi-part episodes, each episode's being
approximately 24 minutes, for a total of approximately 487 minutes. The television series
achieved high ratings in its British run, on Independent Television (ITV). Two of the
stories have been seen here in 1982-3 on the "Mystery" series of the Public Broadcasting
System (PBS). The material is, of course, generations back in TV time: the sound and
picture are not what we've grown accustomed to - and it could sure use subtitles.

But the mysteries enjoy the luxury of time that was then available, to the fullest. They are
absolutely definitely positively filmed in the 1970's - believe me, you haven't seen so
many all-brown interiors or outfits in decades. They are definitely not set in the fantasy
1970's of the current TV series Life on Mars: The Complete Series. These entertainments
are well-constructed, well-made, well-performed: they bear the British TV hallmarks of
lavish sets, good production values, a lot of scenic variety (though it does feel as though
the bulk of the work is in the studio). They differ from the common run of British
mysteries in that they are centered not on detectives, but on "ordinary" though rather
hysterical people, in extraordinary circumstances. And, despite the bullet holes on the
box, they are neither particularly violent nor bloodthirsty: most murders happen off
camera. They feature strong performances from their leads: the great Ian Mckellen (X-
Men Trilogy (X-Men/ X2 - X-Men United/ X-Men - The Last Stand); The Lord of the
Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Theatrical Editions) [Blu-ray]); John Shrapnel
(Gladiator [Blu-ray]); and James Bolan (New Tricks: Season One; The Beiderbecke
Affair - Series 1 (3 Volume Boxed Set)).

The episodes are:

Dying Day. Antony Skipling, (Ian McKellen), a lonely man, fears someone plans his
death on a coming date certain.
The Limbo Connection. The wife of Mark Omney (James Bolam) disappears without
trace.
Rachel in Danger. A freckle-faced but difficult girl travels alone from her home in
Scotland to meet the father she's never seen in London. She falls into the hands of
terrorists.
The Victim. The daughter of industrialist Vincent Craig ( John Shrapnel) is abducted: he
prefers not to leave her fate to the police.

To add to the fun, each episode boasts a clever little homage to some of the most famous
mysteries around: try to find them.

								
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