Dandelion Dead (1994)

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Released 20-Jun-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 204:56
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mike Hodges
Madman Entertainment
Starring Michael Kitchen
Sarah Miles
David Thewlis
Lesley Sharp
Peter Vaughan
Diana Quick
Bernard Hepton
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Barrington Pheloung

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.49:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.49:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Back in 1921, a small town on the border of England and Wales was shocked by the arrest, trial and eventual execution of a prominent local solicitor for the murder of his wife and the attempted murder of a business rival. According to what I read, Major Herbert Armstrong (played here by Michael Kitchen) is still the only member of the bar in England to have been tried and convicted of murder. This mini-series from 1994 tells the basically true story of his life and the lead up to these events.

     The story starts early in 1921, with Major Armstrong living with his overbearing, domineering and bad tempered wife, Katherine (Sarah Mills) and their three children. They live in a nice house and are well respected members of the community. Herbert is particularly liked around the community and despite his lack of effort at work and mild incompetence he runs a fairly successful legal practice with his loyal clerk, Phillips (Roger Lloyd Pack). He tries valiantly to put up with his wife but he finds it harder and harder especially once his main rival for legal services in the local town, Griffiths, turns down his proposal to amalgamate their practices. Instead he brings in a new young lawyer, a wounded war veteran, Oswald Martin (David Thewlis). He is dour and reserved but seems to be a quality solicitor. He starts to draw business away from Armstrong and his income starts to suffer quite badly. Armstrong is also a keen gardener, and is trying to find a way to kill of the dandelions taking over his grass and paths. Arsenic is suggested as an excellent way of killing dandelions, which he uses while also thinking about other things he could use his stockpile of arsenic for. The only other major character is the young woman who eventually becomes Mrs Martin (Lesley Sharp), the daughter of the local chemist.

     This is quite good television from its time (1994) and certainly features an excellent cast and quality acting, especially from Kitchen. He plays the character wonderfully well; he is extremely likeable and you feel sorry for him despite his callous actions due to his likeable personality. The rest of the cast also provide fine support, with Thewlis especially doing a good job with his difficult and hard to like character. Despite this excellent acting and an interesting story the show itself does not rise into the category of the best TV mini-series as it is quite drawn out at over 200 minutes. If this show had been kept to about 2 hours it would have been significantly improved. This is not to say that there isn't much to enjoy here, however, brevity would have improved it.

     It is structured here in the way I would guess it was originally shown, two episodes with each episode broken into 5 parts, one presumes with ads between each part as this was an ITV series rather than the BBC.

     Well worth a look, especially if you are a fan of Michael Kitchen (as I am) or the subject matter strikes you as interesting.

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Transfer Quality


     The video quality is decent but oddly formatted especially when played on a 16x9 television.

     The feature is presented in an approximately 1.50:1 aspect ratio which is probably the original aspect ratio. It is not 16x9 enhanced resulting in black bars all around the picture on a 16x9 television, significantly reducing the used area of your big screen TV.

     The picture was somewhat soft but certainly watchable. Shadow detail was decent.

     The colour is decent but there is some cross colourization on show and a general dullness of colour.

     Artefacts included various white specks and lines, hairs, edge enhancement, some light grain and minor macro blocking. None of these were too bad but all were certainly present.

     There are no subtitles.

    There are no noticeable layer changes.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The audio quality is good.

     This disc contains an English soundtrack in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps.

     Dialogue was reasonably clear and easy to understand although the subtitles were quite useful. There was some quite well defined front separation which was pleasing.

     The music by Barrington Pheolong is OK but doesn't stand out.

     The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     One pretty uninteresting extra.


     The menu included music and allowed for scene selection.

Picture Gallery (4:37)

     Stills Gallery including stills from the show and publicity shots.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This series is available on DVD in Region 1 and has been for 10 years. Based on a review I have read I would go for this new local edition.


     A well-acted by overlong true-life story of a British solicitor who killed his wife in 1921.

     The video quality is decent.

    The audio quality is good.

     The extras are dying slowly of arsenic poisoning.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, September 01, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into BD player. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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