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Blu-ray Review Grantchester Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Matt Hough, Apr 9, 2015.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
    Reviewer

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    XenForo Template Grantchester Blu-ray Review

    In the annals of British mystery literature, there have been detectives of many stripes: young and old, amateur and professional, and from several different walks of life. Sidney Chambers in the Grantchester mysteries by James Runcie is not the first clergyman who’s also an amateur sleuth in his off hours, but he’s one of the more charismatic ones in recent detective literature, and the new series Grantchester shows off his talents in impressive and engaging fashion.


    Cover Art


    Studio: PBS

    Distributed By: N/A

    Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

    Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA

    Subtitles: English SDH

    Rating: Not Rated

    Run Time: 5 Hr. 15 Min.

    Package Includes: Blu-ray

    keep case in a slipcover

    Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

    Region: A

    Release Date: 04/07/2015

    MSRP: $39.99




    The Production Rating: 4/5

    Sidney Chambers (James Norton) serves as the charming, understanding vicar for the small village of Grantchester in Cambridge in 1953. Despite the diminutive size of the hamlet, however, there are plenty of secrets that become uncovered during this six-episode mystery show. Sidney assists village inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green), a plain-spoken man full of 1950s-era prejudices but a man who during the course of this first season warms to the diverse nature of the eccentric characters who surround him and becomes in fact a much better and more admirable person. Sidney’s attended to in the vicarage by stern housekeeper Mrs. Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones), another character whose season-long interactions with Sidney soften her brusque, judgmental attitudes emerging as a more kindly and understanding person. Episode two completes the domestic scene with the addition of new curate Leonard Finch (Al Weaver), a closeted gay clergyman unsure of his station and effectiveness in the area. Sidney’s love life is in a constant state of turmoil as he carries a pathetically blazing torch for sophisticated Amanda Kendall (Morven Christie) who shocks him by becoming engaged to the entitled Guy Hopkins (Tom Austen) and by slowly succumbing to the charms of Hildegard Staunton (Pheline Roggan), the widow of Sidney’s first murder victim investigation.

    As mysteries, the cases can’t hold a candle to the far more involved intricacies of Agatha Christie, P.D. James, or Dorothy Sayers’ best efforts, but for television episodes, these six cases, five of which occur in Grantchester (an apparent suicide which is proven to be murder, the death of a needling old school chum, the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of a cranky neighbor, the death of a family man who survives a fire at his home, and the murder of a local policeman and an office manager) and one during Sidney and Geordie’s visit to a jazz club in London, make for above average mysteries for us armchair detectives. While the cases themselves are close-ended mysteries always arriving at a solution before the end of the episode, Sidney’s on-going problems with his love life, his drinking, and his obvious symptoms of PTSD with recurring horrors of World War II haunting his dreams provide continuing story arcs for writer Daisy Coulan that retain viewer interest completely. And the camaraderie that grows stronger and stronger between Sidney and Geordie makes for a most entertaining bromance for the series.

    James Norton is giving one of the television season’s most charismatic performances as Sidney Chambers: handsome, bright, friendly, and caring, his Sidney Chambers is a kind of fantasy vicar on the surface though we are also privileged to witness his less saintly moments as well giving the character an edge that fully humanizes him. Robson Green’s Geordie Keating grows markedly during the course of the season as Sidney’s spell seems to round some of the hard edges to his personality, something that also occurs with Tessa Peake-Jones’ Mrs. Maguire to wonderful effect. Al Weaver becomes more self-reliant and appealing as curate Leonard Finch as the season progresses. Morven Christie’s Amanda is a character that one grows less fond of during the season, the actress imbuing her creation with a kind of superior sour grapes at not being chosen by Sidney for marriage and thus making him pay in subtle ways for his not seeking her hand more forcefully. Pheline Roggan is appealing as Hildegarde, and Kacey Ainsworth as Geordie’s wife also has some standout spotlight moments.

    The six episodes which are untitled are contained on two Blu-ray discs.



    Video Rating: 4/5  3D Rating: NA

    The series’ 1.78:1 widescreen television aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in these 1080p transfers using the AVC codec. Color is very good throughout with very appealing flesh tones, and sharpness is generally excellent, too, with detail to be seen in facial features and hair textures. But contrast has been inconsistently applied with some indoor scenes (likely shot only with available lighting) taking on a milky quality which doesn’t remain stable from angle to angle. Each episode has been divided into 7 chapters.



    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo sound mix is more focused on the center channel than in spreading out its wealth across the front channels. John Lunn’s music gets the most spread in the available channels but there is only sporadic use of the left and right for ambient effects. Dialogue has been well recorded and is planted firmly in the center channel.



    Special Features Rating: 3/5

    The Making of Grantchester (13:12, HD): this featurette offers behind-the-scenes looks at the cast and crew at work on the show. Many of the sound bites contributed by the production team are isolated in other separate features on the disc making what they have to say there less special since fans will likely hear the comments here first. Among those speaking are actors James Norton, Robson Green, Morven Christie, Tessa Peake-Jones, Al Weaver, and Kacey Ainsworth along with producer Diederick Santer, writer Daisy Coulam, and original author James Runcie along with the production’s production designer and costume designer.

    Cast and Crew Interviews (HD): brief sound bites heard in the above featurette but here isolated by person:
    • James Norton (1:12)
    • Robson Green (1:39)
    • Tessa Peake-Jones (1:24)
    • Kacey Ainsworth (1:21)
    • Producer Diederick Santer (1:36)
    Sidney and His Women (3:01) actors James Norton, Morven Christie, and Pheline Roggan talk about the prickly love life of Sidney Chambers.

    Behind-the-Scenes Tours (HD): three locations already presented in the “Making of” featurette above isolated here for brief separate viewing:
    • Sidney’s Study (1:40): Tessa Peake-Jones is the guide
    • Grantchester Outdoor Locations (1:07): Robson Green is the guide
    • The Vicarage (1:25): Tessa Peake-Jones is the guide
    Warpisode (3:35, HD): the entire war sequence shown in tiny snippets during the season is offered in full here.



    Overall Rating: 4/5

    Grantchester is one of those cozy village mystery series that Britain’s ITV seems to do so smashingly well. Good plots, outstanding characters, and wonderful performances highlight one of the year’s best new programs. Recommended!


    Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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  2. Virgoan

    Virgoan Supporting Actor

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    This is one of the must-watch shows of the past season for me. The first episode promo was intriguing and the first episode left me wanting more.


    Sidney is something of an enigma and it's quite interesting to watch him in the various situations he experiences, including the flashbacks to his war years. James Norton has an interesting chemistry with Robson Green who portrays and police detective in Grantchester. The two butt heads quite often, but they work together beautifully, as well.


    Love, love, love this show.
     
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