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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Case Histories on DVD this Tuesday

     Having just aired on PBS as part of Masterpiece Mystery! in October, Case Histories hits DVD from Acorn Media this Tuesday, November 8th. This six part series follows private investigator Jackson Brodie (Jason Isaacs, Harry Potter, Brotherhood) as he looks for missing children, killers, and cats. Though tough, Brodie is a good-hearted man, that can't help but care about the victims he searches for. Using his training as a soldier, policeman, and a detective, Brodie likes being his own boss, and choosing his own cases. Unfortunately, this means he has limited access and resources, something he likes much less. Plus, he needs to do something to escape the horrors of his past, and one can only run so many hours in a day.

     Mr. Brodie is a complex character, constantly on the run, both literally and figuratively. As is the pacing of the show, so it fits well. Might helping others give him peace from the things that haunt him? Isaacs brings a level of talent rarely seen to embody this complex character in a powerful performance. Praises by critics and viewers, Case Histories has quickly gained a strong following that earned it a second series, four hour pick up to air next year.

     Case Histories is based on three books by author Kate Atkinson, Case Histories, One Good Turn, and When Will There Be Good News? The series, which takes its name from the first mystery, spends two hours covering the events of each of the novels. For an added bonus, Isaacs actually voices the abridged audio versions of the books, so he feels very natural in a part many have already imagined him in. Unfortunately, the series does focus on the cases, rather than the wonderful character development from the books, so there is something a little lacking there. However, for the most part, and given the relatively short length, these are pretty good adaptations.

     Case Histories is set in Scottland, Edinburgh to be precise, making for a beautiful setting. Too bad almost everyone speaks with an English accent. Adding to the atmosphere is the terrific supporting cast and guest stars. Whether appearing in a single mystery, or recurring throughout, Case Histories is stuffed with interesting characters, providing foils and relations for Brodie. Some detective series only give development to the lead, but this is not one of them, trying to shade each character realistically, and doing a fine job of it.

     To fill out these supporting players, Case Histories calls upon a number of familiar faces. Amanda Abbington (After You've Gone) plays DC Louise Munroe, while Zawe Ashton (Fresh Meat) tackles Deborah Arnold. Also present are Natasha Little (Mistresses), Kirsty Mitchell (The Royal Today), Phil Davis (Vera Drake), and Keith Allen (Robin Hood). Each of these performers prove invaluable to creating a fully fleshed out world. Millie Innes may not be as well known, being so young, and with few credits, but her turn as Marlee Brodie, Jackson's daughter, is memorable, and it would not be surprising if it leads to much more work for her. This is the beginning of a career.

     As far as bonus features go, there is an interesting fifteen minute behind the scenes look at the making of Case Histories. And that is all. The episodes are presented in 16:9 widescreen, stereo sound, and have the SDH Subtitle option.

     Click here to order Case Histories on DVD, available this Tuesday, November 8th.

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