Plot: What’s it about?
When Lord Peter Wimsey (Ian Carmichael) goes on holiday in Scotland, he seeks rest and relaxation, but that is not all he will find there. Although he plans to fish with most of his time, he ends up involved in yet another murder case, this one a most unusual one. It seems a local artist named Campbell has been killed, but it will be tough to nail down a suspect, since no one in the area seems to like him at all. In fact, most of the locals seem to believe his death was an accident and a result, feel that no investigation is needed. But Wimsey sees probable cause in the hot tempers of the locals and the stories of Campbell’s behavior beforehand, so he wants to have a look inside the case and see what he can uncover. As he explores the crime scene, he is certain a vital piece of evidence has been removed, one which he needs to track down. He has six potential suspects in mind, but now he must use his noggin to move out the five fakes and discover the truth. But can even Wimsey solve a case as complex as this one?
I was pleased to see that Acorn Media had released Five Red Herrings, as I find it to be one of the better filmed tales of Lord Peter Wimsey. It has some of the same issues that trouble the other Wimsey stories, but in the end, the good overpowers the bad here. At 200 minutes, this four part miniseries is rather substantial and the time is well used, but moves at an almost crawl at times, which could displease some viewers. But even if you don’t like extended programs, you can always watch it one episode at a time, in order to shorten the sessions. I recommend viewing it over two sittings, but one or four would work also, so long as you finish all four episodes. The premise here is a quite good one and it is not lost in the details, so it remains interesting and tense throughout, unlike the weaker Wimsey efforts. Ian Carmichael (Clouds of Witness, The Nine Tailors) gives one of his best turns as Wimsey, while the supporting cast is laced with amusing smaller characters, to flesh out the material. So if you’re a fan of mysteries and want to explore the world of Lord Peter Wimsey, I think Five Red Herrings is a perfect place to start.
Video: How does it look?
Five Red Herrings is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. The image here shows some grain and other wear signs, but looks better than on television, which is about all you can ask for, I think. The grain is never too thick and never proves to be a distraction, so I doubt anyone will be too let down there. The colors remain in the natural scope of hues, while black levels are a tad soft, but still look more than stable. This transfer has some flaws, but this is about as good as the material can look, so no real complaints in the end.
Audio: How does it sound?
There’s not a lot to discuss here, as the included stereo option is no means memorable, but it handles the tasks at hand. There isn’t much music to speak of, but when it is present, it sounds clean enough, while sound effects are also well presented. The main focus is the dialogue, which sounds clear and never falters, not even in the least. This one won’t move up the list of home theater demo discs, but as far as the material is concerned, it is more than up to snuff.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some talent files, information on the series, a trivia game, and a brief interview with Ian Carmichael.