A Mind to Kill Series 2

A Mind to Kill Series 2 (DVD Cover)

Recurring character(s): Detective Chief Inspector Noel Bain (Philip Madoc), Hannah Bain (Ffion Wilkins), Dr. Margaret Edwards (Sharon Morgan), Detective Sergeant Alison Griffiths (Gillian Elisa), Detective Sergeant Carwyn Phillips (Geraint Lewis), Detective Superintendent Jack Bevan (Meic Povey)

Director: Various

Original air date(s): 08/31/1997, 10/18/1997 to 11/22/1997
DVD Date: 10/19/2010

Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 664 minutes

Note(s): The series is titled Yr Heliwr, "The Hunter", in Welsh.

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A Mind to Kill Series 2

Review: Simply put, this second series of A Mind to Kill is superior to the first, with a wider range of episodic plots that will challenge the viewer in a variety of ways. Set in Wales, it stars Philip Madoc as Detective Chief Inspector Noel Bain, the head of an investigative team that uses a mobile crime lab as its base of operations. Remarkably, each episode was filmed twice -- once in English, once in Welsh -- and this DVD set includes a short clip of the Welsh version of one episode. The performances by the recurring cast are uniformly excellent.

If only one word could be used to describe what this series looks like -- what distinguishes it from many other crime dramas -- it would be "gritty". Everything appears to be bleak and dreary, with shades of gray and taupe being the dominant colors used in every scene. And yet this overall look doesn't detract from the storylines, but enhances it, makes it more "real" somehow.

Even though I thought a couple of episodes were sub-par, relative to others in the set, I was drawn into each and found the whole experience quite enjoyable. I'm thrilled there are more episodes to come (five seasons were ultimately filmed), and eagerly look forward to them.

Episode 1: "Bloodline". A strong episode to open the set, with Bain investigating three deaths -- two young men, brothers; and a young woman -- and puzzled more by the indifference of the parents of the dead than how they came to be where they were found. Although I typically find backstories rather tedious, scenes intercut from the past into the present subtly contribute to the suspense of the overall story.

Synopsis (from the studio): What looks like a suicide pact between brothers gets complicated when another body is found. Bain uncovers a family saga of blackmail, abuse, and revenge and also copes with disturbing news from his daughter, Hannah.

Episode 2: "Deathwatch". A solidly plotted screenplay, but also a somewhat confusing one, especially since a key point -- the hit-and-run of a young man years ago -- isn't introduced until well into the episode. Still, there are enough twists and turns here to keep viewers engaged.

Synopsis (from the studio): When the charred remains of a body are found inside a burned-out car, Bain travels to a town where vigilante justice prevails. Despite the localsí disrespect, he attempts to unravel an unsettling chain of events that led to murder.

Episode 3: "Gameplan". An unusual episode, with Bain going undercover -- against his wishes, and its never really made clear why -- to investigate the murder of a young woman at a seaside resort. Much of the action takes place inside an arcade, with dramatic scenes intercut from within a pinball machine. It's also unusual for its abrupt, ambiguous ending, that I admit left me rather puzzled.

Synopsis (from the studio): Bain goes undercover at a seedy seaside resort to investigate a young womanís murder. Then Hannah shows up for her own holiday, much to her fatherís chagrin.

Episode 4: "Head of the Valleys". A Columbo-style screenplay, with the crimes being committed early and shown to the viewer. When Bain arrives to investigate, however, the victim turns out to be someone else -- a clever whodunit twist. This episode also includes a 7 minute clip in Welsh.

Synopsis (from the studio): Called in to investigate a five-year-old corpse found beneath a parking lot, Bain suspects a local crime dynasty and their ruthless matriarch. While tracking down leads, he confronts his own attitudes towards wealth and power.

Episode 5: "Inheritance". Conflict between environmentalists and land developers mask a tangled web of interpersonal relationships and love triangles -- which include Bain and one member of his staff -- in this disappointing episode. The storyline isn't well developed and meanders at such a slow pace that it was hard for me to stay engaged in -- or even care about -- what was going on and why.

Synopsis (from the studio): A wooded sanctuary in a small rural village has become a battleground between big business and local environmentalists. Investigating a string of violent killings, Bain is caught between two militant and potentially dangerous groups.

Episode 6: "Strange Territory". This complicated -- and ultimately unsatisfying -- episode has a paranormal aspect to it. A man, who had previously helped the police find a missing girl, has a vision of a dead young woman in a field. The police find her, dead from strangulation. The woman's family blames her boyfriend, and set out to exact their own form of justice. The viewer knows the police have it all wrong, yet the episode ends without definitive resolution to any of the crimes presented.

Synopsis (from the studio): When a teenager turns up dead in a Celtic burial ground, the top suspects are her scorned boyfriend and the local psychic who discovered her. Inconsolable with grief, the victimís family decides to take justice into their own hands.

Episode 7: "Green Wounds". This final episode of the set is alternately powerfully compelling and incomprehensibly irrational. Bain takes a forced month's leave from the police force, and sets out on a mission of revenge against the man who killed his wife while driving drunk, at the same time his daughter Hannah is being stalked by the son of a man, who believes Bain was responsible for his father's death. There is no reasonable scenario in which a father -- and most especially a police officer -- would take off without a word to anyone knowing his daughter was in danger. Then there's the third subplot involving the only real crime of the episode -- if one sets aside Bain's questionable actions and Hannah's stalker -- and this is mishandled by all involved. This episode has far too much going on, and while some scenes are absolutely riveting, in the end, it isn't as strong as it could have been.

Synopsis (from the studio): Plagued with nightmares about the death of his wifeókilled 12 years earlier by a drunk driveróBain takes a leave of absence to seek revenge against the man who ruined his life.

Rating

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