Touch of Frost, A-Series 1 (1992)
Main Menu Introduction
|Year Of Production||1992|
|Running Time||307:03 (Case: 360)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.29:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
A Touch of Frost is an excellent example of the British police/detective genre TV series which really came into its own during the late 1980s. Similar British programs include Inspector Morse, Inspector Wexford, Taggart, Prime Suspect and all of these are exceptionally well produced, written and acted. A Touch of Frost is up there with the best and shows US producers with their increasingly formulaic network TV programs just how a good detective series should be done.
This first series consists of three ‘movie length’ episodes, each a self-contained mystery, and introduces us to Inspector William ‘Jack’ Frost, played with utter conviction by the versatile David Jason who was previously best known for his comedy work in programs like Only Fools and Horses and Open All Hours. In Frost, Jason plays a cynical, world-weary, outspoken, compassionate police detective with a strong sense of justice and a determination to bring the guilty to book. His performance is nothing less than riveting in virtually every scene he plays and he’s such an interesting and imaginative performer that he brings the character completely to life. He’s ably supported by a strong supporting cast including Bruce Alexander who plays his long-suffering, vain and apparently incompetent superior Superintendent Mullet. In each of the episodes in this first series, Frost is saddled with a different partner, which gives some variety to the interaction of the leads and helps keep the series fresh – a good idea.
The series is uniformly well-directed and acted, with some wonderful performances – even the most minor characters are never less than 100% convincing. And the scripts are excellent. Each episode has at least two plotlines running in parallel and in episode three we have no less than four story strands all of which neatly tie in to each other at the conclusion. Really fine writing and clever plot twists that will keep you guessing combined with the excellent production values and acting make A Touch of Frost a must-see series for anyone interested in this genre.
The three episodes comprising the first season are:
We’re introduced to Frost and learn a little about his personal life including the facts that he won the St John’s Cross for bravery in the line of duty, that he had an unhappy marriage and that his wife is dying of cancer. And we’re also drawn into the stories of a missing girl and a mysterious corpse which is found in the woods.
The second episode also deals with a missing girl, but clever writing ensures that it is not at all repetitive of episode one. The character studies here of the various suspects are particularly interesting and the actors really bring their roles to life.
The best of the three, this episode has no less than four plotlines running concurrently (including a hit and run, a robbery at a casino, an armed gunman on the loose and the murder of a policeman) and is a textbook example of great writing for this genre. David Jason gives a wonderful performance at the climax.
Unfortunately for such an enjoyable series, transfer quality is well below par for this release (and others in the Frost series). The problem seems to lie in the source material from which the transfer was made – whatever was used, it clearly wasn’t a pristine master, and that is clearly what should have been used for a DVD release.
Like most TV of this period the series was shot on film and transferred to video for post-production. The problem lies not in the film but in the video, which exhibits disturbing amounts of what appears to be grain, but is either some type of MPEG artefacting or worse still, damage to the source material or a fault in the technology on which the source material is being played. There are also strange fluctuations in image sharpness and colour definition from scene to scene with certain scenes having a distinctively unnatural ‘washed out’ look. The beginning of the first episode is the worst affected, but all three episodes suffer from these problems to some degree. Considering this is such a recent series (1992), this is really a poor standard for a DVD release.
From researching into this problem on the web, it seems that all the season releases in the UK are similarly afflicted, and there’s worse to come – when the series goes to widescreen (season 6 onwards), the Region 2 releases are in fact zoomed-in 14:9 letterbox transfers to create a phoney 16x9 image. These are not yet available in Region 4 but we will most likely get the same transfers.
The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 and is perfectly fine. No problems with audio sync or audibility of dialogue.
|Surround Channel Use|
The theme music playing over the title of the episode and an image of David Jason.
The theme music.
The series is also available in Region 1, but I’ve been unable to find any reviews of it, so whether or not the R1 transfers suffer from the same problems as the R2/4 I can’t say. The R2 version is identical to ours.
An excellent collection of must-see episodes let down by an inferior quality video transfer.
|DVD||Denon DVD-2200 (NTSC/PAL Progessive), using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TX-76PW60. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to Amplifier.|
|Speakers||Fronts: B&W DM309; Rears: B&W DM303; Centre: B&W LCR3; Subwoofer: B&W ASW300.|