Plot: What’s it about?
An ad agency has become infected with some underhanded tactics, but a young copywriter has the inside scoop and plans to inform the boss. He begins to pen a letter detailing the corrupt dealings and those responsible, but before he can write down the important information, he turns up dead. A wet staircase seems to have been the culprit, as he slipped on the steps and fell to his death, but his boss has some doubts. It might look like an accident, but with a half-written letter about bad practices involved, there is a chance it was no accident, but a desperate attempt to silence the young man. In order to be sure about the man’s death, the boss brings in Lord Peter Wimsey (Ian Carmichael), but as his presence might alter the workplace and in turn, potential evidence and witnesses, Wimsey agrees to come in under the guise of a normal worker. So Wimsey is given the a new name and the dead man’s position in the firm, then set loose to gather facts, investigate, and determine the truth about the tragic event. Was the death of the young man connected to some kind of nefarious actions within the firm, or did he simply suffer a terrible accident at a most unusual time, as he was penning the letter? Now Lord Peter Wimsey must figure out the truth, but in a case this complex, even his skills will be greatly tested.
As seen on PBS’s acclaimed Masterpiece Theatre, the mysteries of Lord Peter Wimsey have now entertained audiences for almost three decades. In Murder Must Advertise, Ian Carmichael (The Nine Tailors, Five Red Herrings) is front and center in the title role and his performance is solid, but he seems a little long in the tooth this time ’round. The story seems to place him somewhere in his 30s, but he is clearly beyond that age and looks much older, though I should note, it doesn’t throw things out of balance too much. His advanced age here causes us to ponder some story conflicts, but its all overlookable, if you’re open minded. As with the other Wimsey mysteries, Murder Must Advertise is presented in four episodes, with each one clocking in at just under an hour. As such, the extended duration might cause some to steer clear, but the episode format is natural and smooth, making it simple to watch in multiple sittings. And as a couple of the episodes run a little thin in this one, that might not be a bad idea at all, even for Wimsey lovers. The story soon picks up however, giving us a solid and enjoyable mystery that fits in well with Wimsey’s other adventures. Not the best or most exciting installment in the Lord Peter Wimsey series, but for devotees and mystery buffs, Murder Must Advertise is well worth a look.
Video: How does it look?
Murder Must Advertise is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. I found this to be a more than acceptable treatment, as the visuals come through well and in truth, this kind of material can never look pristine. The exterior shots look weak, but all the interior scenes look very good, on par with other Wimsey releases. I saw little in terms of grain and other print issues, but you can tell this was made a while back, thanks to general wear signs. The colors look stable and flesh tones are natural, while contrast is a shade light, but still pretty accurate. All in all, another nice presentation from Acorn Media.
Audio: How does it sound?
As these Wimsey mysteries all sound about the same, I’ve brought back my comments from The Nine Tailors release. The included stereo option is your basic television mix, which means more than solid, but not too memorable in the end. The basics are covered and that’s about all you can ask for here, since dialogue and music are about you hear. The music sounds good when it is present, but the vocals are the main focus here, of course. I heard no errors with the dialogue in the least, all the words were crisp and clean from start to finish. Not the flashiest track of course, but it does what it needs to and that’s enough in this case.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release includes an exclusive interview with star Carmichael, some talent files, materials on Dorothy L. Sayers, and a trivia game.