Plot: What’s it about?
If you’re a fan of mysteries, there are a lot of choices out there. The Ruth Rendell Mysteries series offers some nice options not found on most other shows of this kind. The episodes are each unique, so there is no central character who returns each time, while the stories tend to be more psychological, instead of traditional crime drama. I found the episodic nature to be welcome, as it keeps the series fresh. Also of note is that each episode varies in length, so a complex story might run well over two hours, while a simpler mystery might clock in under an hour. This works well, as it ensures the stories are never rushed or stretched thin and that helps with the flow, to be sure. I wouldn’t rank The Ruth Rendell Mysteries with the best mystery shows I’ve seen, but it is solid and features some impressive performers. The dark, moody nature of the stories is going to please some, but be lost on others. But if you’re a fan of this kind of show, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries is worth a look. This first set contains four episodes and below is a brief synopsis on each one included.
1. Master of the Moor (154 minutes)- Stephen Whalby (Colin Firth) knows the moors better than anyone, as he spends a lot of time there and likes the solitude he finds there. He has done so since his childhood, so he is an expert on the lay of the land, but now, his knowledge has marked him as a murder suspect. His nature as a loner and his expert knowledge of the moors leads police to him, as a series of murders have taken place in the area. But is Stephen a cold blooded killer, or has his penchant for solitude caused him to be misunderstood?
2. Vanity Dies Hard (155 minutes)- Alice Fielding (Eleanor David) has just suffered the loss of her best friend, a tragic turn of events that shaken up her life. Her friend just vanished, without a trace and without an explanation. Alice isn’t convinced that her friend would just leave without telling her, so she starts to suspect foul play is involved. But as Alice delves deeper into the disappearance, will she uncover more than she can handle?
3. The Secret House of Death (103 minutes)- Susan Townsend (Amanda Redman) has just gone through a rough divorce, so she wants to start over and live a peaceful lifestyle. Her suburban home is supposed to a safe haven, but even in her nice neighborhood, bad things happen. She discovers two bodies, brutally murdered in her own neighborhood, a discover that sends her life into a spiral of intrigue that could prove deadly.
4. The Double (51 minutes)- Lisa is a beautiful young woman with a kind heart, an innocent in a corrupt world. She is about to get married to a stockbroker, to begin the life she has always dreamed of. But her path to marriage and a family is soon blocked, by a force she never would have expected. Another woman steps into the picture, one who looks exactly like her, but has a darker, more driven persona. As Lisa fights to save her love, things seem to be on the road to violence, but which of the doubles will land in the life they’re fighting over?
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in full frame, as intended. These episodes look passable, but aren’t as good as they should be. I noticed a lot of grain and noise throughout, which caused some softness. I would call detail average, but some scenes are quite soft. The colors seem bright, if a little off tint at times, but for the most part, hues look fine. As far as contrast, things are too dark in some instances, but look acceptable in most scenes. In the end, I would say these episodes look decent, but inconsistent.
Audio: How does it sound?
I don’t have much to report here, the stereo soundtracks are fine, but unremarkable. The main element is dialogue, so as long as vocals are clear, that is what matters. Since the dialogue does sound good, with no volumes or harshness concerns, I don’t have any real complaints. The other audio elements sound fine also, but rather limited in scope, due to the nature of the series. So it all sounds fine, but the audio is by no means memorable.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release includes a profile of Ruth Rendell, as well as some cast biographies.