Touch of Frost, A-Series 1 (1992)

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Released 15-Sep-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 307:03 (Case: 360)
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Don Leaver
David Reynolds
Anthony Simmons
Studio
Distributor
Yorkshire Television
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring David Jason
Bruce Alexander
James McKenna
Arthur White
David Gooderson
Case ?
RPI $59.95 Music Jon Hiseman
Barbara Thompson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    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:

Care and Protection 102:02

    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.

Not with Kindness 102:28

    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.

Conclusions 102:33

    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.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    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.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 and is perfectly fine. No problems with audio sync or audibility of dialogue.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

    The theme music playing over the title of the episode and an image of David Jason.

Menu Audio

    The theme music.

R4 vs R1

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

    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.

Summary

    An excellent collection of must-see episodes let down by an inferior quality video transfer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Alex Paige (read my bio)
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-2200 (NTSC/PAL Progessive), using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-76PW60. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to Amplifier.
AmplificationSony STR-DB940
SpeakersFronts: B&W DM309; Rears: B&W DM303; Centre: B&W LCR3; Subwoofer: B&W ASW300.

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