Wire in the Blood-The Mermaids Singing (2002)

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Released 16-Jul-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Scene Selection Audio
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 95:24
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Andrew Grieve
Coastal Productions
Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Robson Green
Hermione Norris
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music The Insects

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The weekly Friday Night Crime feature on Australia's ABC can be a great source of mysteries and thrillers to end the working week. Many of my favourite television series are to be found in this time slot; Dalziel & Pascoe, Spooks and Wire In The Blood, even though it was only a relatively brief series. Based on the novel by Val McDermid, The Mermaids Singing gains it's title from The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock, a poem by T S Eliot, and is by far the most disturbing story of the first season. This story was broadcast as several weekly episodes, all of which are presented here in one ninety-five minute slab.

    Forensic psychologist Tony Hill (Robson Green) is an absent minded eccentric with an affinity for Playstation games, whose expertise and knowledge in the field are well documented. He seems to have a strange and dangerous sympathetic connection with psychopathic killers that compels him to visit convicted murderer Maggie Thomas ritualistically every week - nothing better to do on a Thursday evening! Tony is approached by Detective Inspector Carol Jordan (Hermione Norris) to provide an alternate perspective in a case of three apparently related murders, similar in the respect that all of the victims were killed using medieval instruments of torture.

    But all is not well down at the station. A member of the force appears to be leaking forensic facts to a slimy member of the press, Penny Burgess - a girl with no scruples who is willing to do anything for a story. It's nice to see a journalist who is dedicated to their profession. Carol's boss is less than impressed with her bringing a third party in on the investigation, fearing that Tony is simply trying to further his career via a high profile case rather than help potential victims. The stakes are raised and Tony's expertise is ultimately appreciated when he amazingly predicts the identity of the next victim - a person they will least expect.

    The performances and direction in this series are second to none. All the tension is in the right places and the script is very well written - leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat right up until the final scenes of the story. Anyone with a love for tense thrillers along the lines of Copycat should definitely check out this sadly underrated series.

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Transfer Quality


    This is a very good video transfer for a television series, with very few issues to be concerned about.

    The transfer is presented in 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. This is a shame, because the program was broadcast in digital widescreen.

    The picture is quite sharp, with a lot of detail evident throughout. Black levels appeared bold and true during all of the dark suspenseful night-time scenes. There were no examples of low level noise during the feature.

    Colours appeared slightly muted, but this may have been the director's intention. There were absolutely no signs of bleeding or oversaturation.

    MPEG artefacts were nowhere to be seen. Aliasing was kept to a bare minimum and was hardly noticeable when it did occur.

    There are no subtitles present on this disc.

    Given its short runtime and lack of extra material, this disc is single layered.

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


    I found this audio transfer to be amazingly active and enveloping. Although it is not flagged as surround encoded, the single English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) track did an amazing job of bringing this suspenseful story to life with Pro Logic II decoding enabled.

    Dialogue was always very clear and easy to understand and there were absolutely no issues with audio sync.

    Both the haunting theme and incidental music are credited to The Insects. These themes and interludes have a very inhuman quality, heavily synthesized and piercing with strangely fluctuating electronic percussion as accompaniment. This is without a doubt the most bizarre soundtrack music I have heard in a television series, but it works beautifully next to the tension of the storyline.

    Surround effects and activity were constant, beginning with the distant echoes of shunting trains in the rears at 3:40 and then a sweeping pan across the front soundstage as a car drives by at 5.35. We also have consistent office noise panned across the rears during scenes situated in the Police headquarters at 17:50 and 77:18. Some eerie incidental music also surprises the listener from behind at 9:45 and a loud nightclub scene at 32:00 is filled with examples of crowd voices and noise panned across the rear channels.

    The subwoofer was not called upon to any great degree, but did kick in to add some deep, tense rumblings at 58:15 and 64:38.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    All menus are static and are not 16x9 enhanced. There is some brief audio accompaniment on the menus, being the main theme to the series.

R4 vs R1

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

    There is a collector's edition box set available in Region 2 that contains the complete first season; The Mermaids Singing, Shadows Rising and Justice Painted Blind. The Region 2 release is also a non-16x9 transfer and contains Cast & Crew interviews and a brief making of featurette that includes a look behind the scenes at the second season. Clearly, serious fans of the series would be better off buying the Region 2 boxed set.


    Wire In The Blood is an excellent series, and The Mermaids Singing is its most disturbing tale. The performances are spot-on, the script is fluid and the tension between the main characters is brilliant. This is a must see for anyone who loves a good thriller.

    The video transfer is very good, but is not presented in the originally broadcast aspect ratio.

    The audio transfer is excellent when processed with Pro Logic II.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Monday, September 29, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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Comments (Add)
UK showings were 16:9 (nt) - John R
Broadcast in 16:9 in Australia. - TurkeyTom REPLY POSTED
confirmation - it was broadcast in Digital 16:9 - TurkeyTom REPLY POSTED
P.S. the Spooks DVD is in the same boat. - TurkeyTom
Re: Spooks - Jace
R2 Box Set - John N