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P.D. James: The Essential Collection

P.D. James: The Essential Collection
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P.D. James: The Essential Collection

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741952656593

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List Price: $149.98
Our Price: $96.17
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Product Details:
Actors: Roy Marsden, Susannah York, Gemma Jones, James Faulkner, Tony Haygarth
Director: Andrew Grieve
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
Language: English
Number of Discs: 15
Studio: Koch Vision
Run Time: 2075 minutes
DVD Release Date: August 05, 2008
Average Customer Rating: based on 57 reviews
Customer Reviews:
Average Customer Review:4.0 ( 57 customer reviews )
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

216 of 221 found the following review helpful:

3A nice collection - but not complete  Sep 12, 2005
By ECS "ECS"
This collection provides a good illustration of the way British TV drama has changed over the years. The first five mysteries (Death of an Expert Witness, Shroud for a Nightingale, Cover Her Face, The Black Tower & A Taste for Death) each comprise of six 45-minute episodes although the episodes are sadly joined together in these DVD presentations.

These serials were made between 1983 - 1988 and were shot fairly cheaply, on videotape as opposed to film, which was quite uncommon at the time. As a result, they appear a little cheap, but the upside was that books could be dramatized in a more drawn-out fashion and the characterisation (one of James' great strengths) could be fully brought out on screen.

The last three adaptations (Unnatural Causes, A Mind to Murder & Original Sin) were made between 1992 - 1996 and were shot on film as opposed to video tape. As a result these later adventures look much more modern and slick. However the additional expense of making these films mean they are much shorter and there is very little by way of characterisation compared to the earlier stories.

These film 2-hour dramas are the norm now, for British detective shows - as I say it is an interesting barometer of the way that TV drama has changed in the UK over the years.

The Black Tower is excellent and certainly my favourite of the earlier adventures. Art Malik and under-rated actors John Franklyn-Robbins & Richard Heffer excel in their guest roles.

Original Sin fares the best of the later adaptations, being slightly longer than the other two (145 mins as opposed to 100) and directed very nicely.

The major disappointment with this set is that it's not "the complete works". The last of the six-part adventures, Devices & Desires (shown in early 1991 in the UK) is absent from this collection, which is a real shame since it is excellent and the only one of the earlier serials to rival The Black Tower in my view.

The final PD James mystery starring Roy Marsden, A Certain Justice (made around 1998), is also missing from this collection for some reason.

DVD extras are unfortunately minimal. Picture quality is good, given the limitations of the source material.

66 of 66 found the following review helpful:

4PD James collection  Sep 23, 2004
By ECS "ECS"
This collection provides a good illustration of the way British TV drama has changed over the years. The first five mysteries (Death of an Expert Witness, Shroud for a Nightingale, Cover Her Face, The Black Tower & A Taste for Death) each comprise of six 45-minute episodes although the episodes are sadly joined together in these DVD presentations.

These serials were made between 1983 - 1988 and were shot fairly cheaply, on videotape as opposed to film, which was quite uncommon at the time. As a result, they appear a little cheap, but the upside was that books could be dramatized in a more drawn-out fashion and the characterisation (one of James' great strengths) could be fully brought out on screen.

The last three adaptations (Unnatural Causes, A Mind to Murder & Original Sin) were made between 1992 - 1996 and were shot on film as opposed to video tape. As a result these later adventures look much more modern and slick. However the additional expense of making these films mean they are much shorter and there is very little by way of characterisation compared to the earlier stories. As I say it is an interesting barometer of the way that TV drama has changed in the UK over the years.

The Black Tower is excellent and certainly my favourite of the earlier adventures. Art Malik and under-rated actors John Franklyn-Robbins & Richard Heffer excel in their guest roles.

Original Sin fares the best of the later adaptations, being slightly longer than the other two (145 mins as opposed to 100) and directed very nicely.

The major disappointment with this set is that it's not "the complete works". The last of the six-part adventures, Devices & Desires (shown in early 1991 in the UK) is absent from this collection, which is a real shame since it is excellent and the only one of the earlier serials to rival The Black Tower in my view.

The final PD James mystery starring Roy Marsden, A Certain Justice (made around 1998), is also missing from this collection for some reason.

DVD extras are unfortunately minimal. Picture quality is good, given the limitations of the source material.

66 of 68 found the following review helpful:

4problems, but the collection is worth the price  Aug 02, 2005
By Christopher G. Kenber "chris kenber"
As another reviewer noted, the collection is defective, with the last disk of "Death of an Expert Witness" wrongly recorded. However, "Original Sin" is present and correct in my set. Having said this, and assuming this is a defect common to every copy of the The Essential Collection, the balance of the programs are excellent and remind us how effectively P.D. James' writing transfers to the small screen, and how well Roy Marsden plays Adam Dalgliesh, surely one of the more complex and interesting characters in english detective fiction. All of the characterizations are excellent, with England's endless collection of character actors called in to do wonderful duty peopling these stories.

It would certainly be helpful if Amazon could figure out how to deliver a correctly-recorded version of "Death of an Expert Witness" and someone's quality control is clearly out of whack. However, the collection is well worth its price even if defective, and (worst case) you can buy "Death of an expert witness" separately.

Now why the producers chose to replace Marsden in "Death in Holy Orders" (not included in this set) is a mystery in itself but his replacement does do an adequate if not exceptional job.

48 of 51 found the following review helpful:

5"Essential Collection ... P.D. James ... Koch Vision (2008)"  Aug 24, 2008
By J. Lovins "Mr. Jim"
Koch Vision presents "P.D. JAMES: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION" (1983-1997) (2075 mins/Color) -- Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, (born 3 August 1920) is an English author of crime fiction, under the name P. D. James, and is a life peer in the British House of Lords --- Hailed as Britain's "Queen of Crime" by critics and fans alike, P.D. James is one of the most celebrated mystery writers of all time --- Her first novel, "Cover her Face", introduced the world to the brilliant and poetic mind of Scotland Yard's Adam Dalgliesh --- Audiences have been captivated ever since

From the diabolical to the macabre, this "essential collection" presents nine critically acclaimed P.D. James film adaptations - each starring Roy Marsden in a compelling Adam Dalgliesh Mystery.

Over 34 Hours of Heart-Stopping Suspense - Includes a collectible 19-Page Booklet, featuring an interview with P.D. James.

9 MYSTERIES ON 15 DVD'S AS FOLLOWS:
"Death of an Expert Witness" (8 April 1983)
It begins with the discovery of a murder of young girl --- However, this is not the focus of the novel, but rather is used as a method to introduce us to the staff of a forensic laboratory, the background of this mystery --- The actual murder of Dr. Lorrimer, an experienced expert witness, is only discovered in the second section of the book. It is quickly established that only people associated with the lab would have the opportunity or the knowledge to commit the crime, which allows the detectives to focus their attention.

"Shroud for a Nightingale" (9 March 1984)
Commander Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard is called in to investigate the death of two student nurses at the hospital nursing school of Nightingale House --- The novel was adapted as a television miniseries by Anglia Television in 1984, with Roy Marsden as Dalgliesh and Joss Ackland as the surgeon, Stephen Courtney-Briggs.

"Cover Her Face" (17 February 1985)
It details the investigations by her poetry-writing detective Adam Dalgliesh into the death of a young, ambitious maid, surrounded by a family which has reasons to want her gone - or dead --- The title is taken from a passage from John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi: "Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle; she died young."

"The Black Tower" (8 November 1985)
Adam Dalgliesh, convalescing after a severe illness, arrives at Toynton Grange (Dorset coast), the rest home for the young disabled, just too late to find out why his old friend Father Baddeley had sent for him --- The monk-robed Wilfred Anstey and his staff are an odd lot, as are the few patients, all in wheelchairs --- There's already been a suspicious suicide, and Dalgleish is not satisfied that the old priest's death was caused by myocarditis alone --- Handicapped by poor health, he finally manages to unearth the secret of the grange --- Unpleasant people, but good final scenes."

"A Taste for Death" (21 May 1992)
In the dingy vestry of St. Matthew's Church, Paddington, two bodies have been found with their throats slashed --- One is an alcoholic vagrant, whereas the other is Sir Paul Berowne, a baronet and recently resigned Minister of the Crown --- Poet and Commander Adam Dalgliesh investigates one of the most convoluted cases of his career.

"Devices and Desires" (4 January 1991)
Commander Adam Dalgliesh, having published his second volume of poetry, retreats to the remote Larksoken headland where his recently deceased aunt, Jane Dalgliesh, left him a converted windmill --- However, a psychopathic mass murderer, known as the Norfolk Whistler, is on the loose and seems to have arrived at Larksoken when Dalgliesh finds the body of the nearby nuclear power plant's Acting Administrative Officer during an evening stroll on the beach --- We then watch the effect a following series of interlocking plots have on each other, and on the lives of the books protagonists.

"Unnatural Causes" (13 January 1994)
Unnatural Causes is the title of a 1967 detective novel by P. D. James --- It features her detective Adam Dalgliesh, who happens to be visiting his aunt, Jane Dalgliesh, in Suffolk when the body of a detective novelist, Maurice Seton, is found washed ashore in his own small boat. The death is highly suspicious because his hands are missing, having been removed with a meat cleaver, just as Seton himself had described in a thriller he was beginning to write. However the cause of his death is mysterious; his hands were removed some time after his death --- The primary responsibility for the investigation falls on Inspector Reckless, but Dalgliesh conducts his own low-key investigation in support.

"A Mind to Murder" (2 January 1995)
Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgliesh has been on leave following the death on duty of a member of his team, DS Sarah Hillier --- His superiors order him back to work to investigate the murder of the Director of the Steen Clinic, which specializes in psychiatric cases --- Dalgliesh and his team can't quite figure out why they've been assigned to what seems to be a straightforward murder case but it's clear that his superiors want him to get in and out as quickly as possible --- There is any number of possible suspects and as Dalgliesh is fond to say, the motive for murder is inevitably greed or love.

"Original Sin" (9 January 1997)
The murder of Peverell Press's managing director, ambitious Gerard Etienne, seems to be the horrible end of a series of malicious pranks in the company headquarters --- When Adam Dalgliesh is called to the scene to solve the murder, he soon finds out that the killer does not intend to stop with Etienne.

the cast includes:
Roy Marsden ... Commander Adam Dalgliesh

SPECIAL FEATURES:
BIO:
1. Roy Marsden
Date of Birth: 25 June 1941 - Stepney, London, England, UK
Date of Death: Still Living

Special footnote, Roy Marsden is a British actor, who is probably best known for his portrayal of Adam Dalgliesh in the Anglia Television dramatisations of P. D. James's detective novels.

Great job by Koch Vision --- looking forward to more high quality titles from the BBC Collection film market --- order your copy now from Amazon or Koch Vision where there are plenty of copies available on DVD, stay tuned once again for top notch releases --- where they are experts in releasing long forgotten films and treasures to the collector.

Total Time: 2075 mins on DVD ~ Koch Vision KOCV-6565 ~ (8/05/2008)

23 of 24 found the following review helpful:

5Problem Discs Finally Corrected  Apr 13, 2006
By Ravenova
I attempted to purchase this item back in August and was very disappointed when I received it. The problem was located in the third segment of Death of An Expert Witness which was supposed to be included on a separate disc than the first two episodes in this story. When I loaded this disc, it was another P.D. James episode, A Taste of Death Part Three, that was an exact duplicate of another disc in this compilation. I returned the item and requested another copy, presuming that the problem I had encountered was very rare. However, the second copy of this collection that Amazon sent me was also flawed in this same manner; I returned it and requested that my money be refunded. I finally decided, after several months, that I would try and order this collection again and ascertain if the problem had been remedied. Luckily, the collection that I received today did include the third segment of Death of An Expert Witness. Also, one reviewer mentioned that Original Sin was not included in this compilation as it was supposed to be. However, it was included in my copy so I presume that this problem has also been fixed. I was unable to discover any other flaws in the discs. Everything appeared to be correctly labeled and every episode that was supposed to be included was on the discs. Hopefully, this signifies that the problems inherent in this series have finally been addressed and remedied.

- Ravenova

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