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George Gently Collection, Series 1-4(TV) (2007-2011)
See individual titles.
For more about George Gently Collection, Series 1-4 and the George Gently Collection, Series 1-4 Blu-ray release, see George Gently Collection, Series 1-4 Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on May 31, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Martin Shaw, Lee Ingleby, Simon Hubbard, Melanie Clark Pullen
This Blu-ray bundle includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
George Gently Collection, Series 1-4 Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Michael Reuben, May 31, 2013
Following its usual practice, Acorn Media has issued a box set of the first four seasons (or "series") of the British police procedural George Gently to accompany the release of the most recent Series 5. Series 2 is also new to Blu-ray. British actor Martin Shaw is the series' anchor, and while he may not be famous in America, his authoritative voice and emotional gravitas have made him a star in Britain and the ideal actor to personify Det. Chief Inspector Gently, the honorable, world-weary London cop who's ready to quit the force when his wife is killed in a hit-and-run that his colleagues treat as an accident—but Gently knows otherwise. The pilot episode is set in 1964, and "the Met" (as the London branch of Scotland Yard is known) has become so bureaucratically inept, or just plain corrupt, that Gently can barely stomach the place. Most of the officials there feel the same about Gently, whom they regard as a self-righteous prig. But life hands Gently a kind of second chance in a new position heading the Criminal Investigation Division (or "C.I.D.") for Durham County in northeast England, where he's paired with a bright but inexperienced sergeant, John Bacchus, whom Gently attempts to mentor in doing honest police work the right way. George Gently is based on the novels of crime author Alan Hunter, who'd published 46 Gently books by the time he died in 2005. After the series pilot aired on April 8, 2007, a new "series" has followed each year, sometimes two episodes and sometimes four episodes per series. The most recent was shown in September 2012, and more have been announced. Each episode is about 90 minutes long, and as I have noted in several reviews, the format is reminiscent of the "NBC Mystery Movie" that spawned such diverse fare as Columbo, McMillan & Wife and McCloud, all of which used the longer running time to develop more interesting and elaborate stories than conventional hour dramas allow. One of the greatest advantages of English series, which have fewer episodes per season, is that they are developed over a longer period of time and the writing is generally first-rate. (It's the same reason why American series written for cable tend to be better than network fare.)
For a detailed discussion of the pilot episode and Series 1, please see the Series 1 review. For a detailed discussion of Series 2, please see the Series 2 review. For a detailed discussion of Series 3, please see the Series 3 review. For a detailed discussion of Series 4, please see the Series 4 review.
George Gently Collection, Series 1-4 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Series 1 With the exception of certain aspects of the pilot, which I'll discuss in a moment, the image for Series 1 of George Gently is consistent with the image for Series 3. The 1080i, AVC-encoded Blu-ray is clean, sharp and detailed, with almost no video noise or interference and no visible aliasing while the image is in motion. (Screencaps are a different matter.) With scenes set in the present, the color palette tends to be muted, consistent with the gray, overcast skies that are typical of the seaside locale; for flashbacks the HD video attempts to simulate, with a fair degree of success, the more intense colors and slightly grainy look of overexposed film. Black levels are very good, and there are no compression issues. The pilot episode, "Gently Go Man", uses a slightly different palette than every subsequent episode. It's the only episode where the production company seems to have gone out of its way to shoot on fair days with blue skies so that the seaside communities of Northumberland look their best. (In fact, the pilot and first two series of George Gently were filmed in Ireland.) The effect is to contrast the colorful north with the monochromatic miasma of the corrupt city that Gently is leaving behind, and the Blu- ray's ability to deliver vivid but not overly saturated colors is crucial in this regard. The concluding shot of the pilot shows Gently and Bacchus walking along a glorious beach under a vivid blue sky, the likes of which seldom appears again in George Gently. It serves as a kind of "welcome" sign for the grieving detective to his new home. For additional screenshots, please see the Series 1 review. Series 2 As previously noted in the review of Series 5, Acorn Media has changed their approach to video encoding with the most recent releases of George Gently. Previous releases (that is, Series 1, 3 and 4) have been issued with two episodes per disc (each episode is approximately 90 minutes long) on BD-50s. Series 2 and 5, which are being released simultaneously, have the same amount of content per disc, but the discs are BD-25s. Acorn has achieved excellent images with their releases of Midsomer Murders using this arrangement, and they apparently have decided to try the same approach with George Gently. The approach worked with Series 5, where the content was 1080p, but it doesn't work nearly as well with Series 2, which like the other series preceding Series 5, arrives in 1080i format. Series 1, 3 and 4 have very good images, despite the interlaced formatting, but on my main display, Series 2 was covered with an almost continuous layer of video noise, as the much lower bitrate struggled to keep up with the constant field shifts. The problem was easy to see when I was doing screen captures, because combing and motion artifacts in the image were much more frequent than in the previous 1080i series. In normal viewing, a good player will do its best to eliminate such problems, but it can only do so much; hence the video noise. (Of course, isolating single frames in captures minimizes the effect.) There are times when I find the prejudice against 1080i to be unfair. Properly handled, it can produce a stunning image. But if Series 2 of George Gently is any indication, 1080i cannot reliably tolerate the same degree of compression as 1080p. Acorn got away with it on the first two volumes (19 and 20) of Midsomer Murders, presumably due to differences in the source format, but the results for Series 2 of George Gently are nowhere near comparable in quality, either to those volumes of Midsomer Murders or to other volumes of George Gently. Colors, black levels and contrast are on a par with the other series of George Gently. But the image as a whole is subpar compared to every other series, and I am docking the video score accordingly. As I noted in my review of Series 5, Acorn charges a premium price for what is supposed to be a premium product. Why would it cut corners with disc capacity when its previous approach to 1080i has worked so well? George Gently is too good a series, and these episodes are too high quality, to let this drop in video quality deter anyone, but Acorn avoid mastering 1080i material with this extreme degree of compression. For additional screenshots, please see the Series 2 review. Series 3 BBC productions on hi-def video have established a high degree of consistency, and George Gently is no exception. The 1080i, AVC-encoded Blu-ray is clean, sharp and detailed, with almost no video noise or interference and no visible aliasing while the image is in motion. (Screencaps are a different matter.) The color palette tends to be muted, consistent with the gray, overcast skies that are typical of the seaside locale; but exceptions are made in "Peace and Love" for the university scenes, where the idea was presumably to suggest the "vividness" of the youth movement with an infusion of stronger color. Black levels are very good, and there are no compression issues. For additional screenshots, please see the Series 3 review. Series 4 Production of George Gently relocated to England from Ireland with Series 3, but the show continued to use seaside locales and pastoral settings to underline the country setting as a new beginning for the beleaguered inspector. Not so in Series 4, where even the small-town and country locations seem dark and dingy. The hi-def image capture is ably presented on Acorn Media's 1080i, AVC-encoded Blu-ray, with a picture that is clean, sharp, detailed and almost entirely lacking in video noise or aliasing while the image is in motion. (Screencaps are a different matter.) As in previous episodes, the color palette remains muted, although the "Gently Upside Down" episode makes some allowance for Sixties fashion, and flashback sequences are typically presented with more saturated colors, as has been the case in previous episodes. Black levels are very good, and there are no compression issues. For additional screenshots, please see the Series 4 review.
George Gently Collection, Series 1-4 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
All four sets feature lossless 2-channel audio, in either PCM or DTS-HD MA 2.0. The sound mix is basic and effective, emphasizing dialogue and essential effects. The show has used different soundtrack composers over the years, but it has maintained a consistent style throughout.
George Gently Collection, Series 1-4 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Acorn's George Gently sets are light on extras. Series 3 has none at all, and Series 1, 2 and 4 have only a few interviews and behind-the-scenes featurettes. Please consult the individual reviews for details.
George Gently Collection, Series 1-4 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
What makes the Gently stories especially engaging is the degree to which the investigations rely on old-fashioned techniques of interview and inquiry, because the time period precedes the technological advances on which most contemporary police procedurals rely. Forensics are basic, research is done in libraries and file rooms, and witness interviews are recorded by stenographers in long hand. In this world, the best investigative tool is a committed, deliberate, experienced detective like Gently, even if he isn't Sherlock Holmes. Despite the predictable recurrence of cop shows on U.S. prime time, we don't have anything quite like George Gently. U.S. networks seem to need gimmicks to sell a series, and George Gently doesn't have any. It's a straight-up, old-fashioned procedural that relies on the basic virtues of top-notch scripts, intriguing characters and great acting. Highly recommended.
George Gently: Other Seasons
George Gently Collection, Series 1-4 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• George Gently Series 5 & Series 2 Blu-rays - April 18, 2013
Acorn Media has detailed the Blu-ray release of George Gently: Series 5 and George Gently: Series 2, each of which features four mysteries, uncompressed audio and several extras. Both sets will be available for purchase online and in stores across the nation on ...
George Gently Collection, Series 1-4 Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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