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6 Degrees Entertainment

'The Last Detective - Series 4'
(Peter Davison, Emma Amos, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / (2006) 2008 / Acorn Media)

Overview: Things are looking up for Detective Constable "Dangerous" Davies (Peter Davison, Doctor Who, At Home with the Braithwaites). Sure, he still gets the least promising cases in the Willesden constabulary. And he still gets little more than mockery from his colleagues. But his wife Julie (Emma Amos) has taken him back - even though she has to share a house with his quirky, freeloading chum, Mod (Sean Hughes, The Commitments). These five full-length mysteries feature first-rate guest stars, including Kenneth Cranham (Rome), Roger Daltrey (McVicar), and Leslie Phillips (Chancer). Each one rewards you with the gentle humor and captivating intrigue that you’ve come to expect from North London’s most doggedly unglamorous detective.

DVD Verdict: 'The Last Detective' is a very popular television series in England. Peter Davison plays Constable “Dangerous” Davies, the lowest man on the totem pole inside the detective division of the Willesden constabulary.

Davies is the British Rodney Dangerfield, getting no respect from anybody, neither his colleagues, his wife, nor the people he meets in the course of his duties. The series title comes from Dangerous’ boss at the cop shop, whom all call Gov, or Governor. Gov is arrogant, quick to criticize Davies, and just as quick to give Davies’ colleagues the better assignments. Gov and Dangerous are constantly at loggerheads because, although Dangerous is the office’s patsy, he’s also usually the one who picks up on the clues that the others miss, and who follows up on things that should have been followed up on, but weren’t. He’s also inevitably the one who figures out the perpetrator of the crime of each of the episodes. But Dangerous still gets no respect.

It doesn’t come up in the five episodes on this DVD, but there’s a good chance that Dangerous got his name because he’s dangerous mainly to himself, constantly getting into embarrassingly funny situations at least once per episode. In the opening episode, “Once Upon A Time On The Westway,” less than five minutes into the action Dangerous is nearly impaled on the top of a fence he’s trying to scale. One of the pointed iron bars manages to tear into his trousers and get him hung up, while the trio who broke into a produce warehouse pelt him with tomatoes, then run off, leaving him hanging there. Sixties and seventies rock music fans will recognize Roger Daltrey of The Who as one of the bad guys, a member of a criminal gang that Dangerous is investigating in connection with a diamond heist. The heist is overtaken by the gang boss being murdered in his own home, then the two cases merge into one.

The second episode, “Dangerous Liaisons,” is the story of what seems to be an accidental death. It quickly becomes a murder investigation, which leads to a two-decades old snuff film that everybody is quick to label a fake. The third episode, “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Willesden,” opens with a vaudeville type act on stage in a seedy little club. As they’re going through their routine, one of them falls dead onstage. Again, it’s thought to be a natural causes death until Dangerous takes the time to read the autopsy.

Episode four, “The Man From Montevideo,” opens appropriately with Dangerous walking the small horse that he calls a dog, and being offered a new suit for a great price from the trunk of a man’s car. When he shows his cop shop ID, the man takes off running. Dangerous gets his man, but during the chase the man’s trunk is being picked clean, thereby blowing the arrest. The final episode is “Dead Peasant’s Society,” and it opens with Dangerous doing a good deed, getting called a pig by the woman he helped, and getting his coffee and sandwich pinched in the process. A typical day for our fearless hero. The real action begins with the very next scene, which takes place in the same type of venue as the last episode closed: on another soccer field.

Overall this series is well written, imaginative, and with the right degree of comedy and confusion mingled in. Highly recommended. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

An interview with Peter Davison
Leslie Thomas Biography and Booklist
Cast Filmographies