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Ghost Canyon

'Five Days (HBO Miniseries)'
(Christine Tremarco, David Oyelowo, Lucinda Dryzek, Hugh Bonneville, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2008 / HBO Home Video)

Overview: A mother Leanne vanishes into thin air. Her children abandoned in her car also go missing. As police search for clues over three gut-wrenching months the Leanne's husband and family learn that nobody's quite what they seem. Everyone is a suspect. In the end five days prove critical in solving the case in this five-part five-hour thriller.

DVD Verdict: '5 Days' is an excellent and riveting miniseries from HBO/BBC. It centres around the mysterious disappearance of a young mother who stops to buy flowers at a roadside stand. Gripping performances all round from an ensemble cast.

The search for the missing woman takes almost 3 months. The five days of the title refers to five separate days when crucial events occur in the investigation. It's very good on the police procedural aspect. Something you seldom find on TV is the show's spotlight on ancillary units like the police's public relations and liaison departments.

Aside from the central mystery, what I found fascinating about it was how it manages to touch on other tangential topics - multi-racial marriages, problems in stepfamilies, multi-generational families and the sorry state of British institutions today. It's nice to see a show poke fun at the many sore points ailing modern Britain - the need for absolute political correctness, the over-abundance of CCTV cameras monitoring every aspect of people's daily lives, the sorry state of policing, the much derided "Community Support Officers", ("plastic police" whose main job is to issue ASBOs - warning letters for criminals caught committing crimes), the presence of increasing numbers of foreigners, the outsourcing of government jobs (a key suspect escapes while in the custody of a private security contractor) and the dreaded NHS (National Health Service) where patients are left out in the corridors of overflowing hospitals like casualties in some Third World country.

Spread over 5 hours and 5 episodes, it remains riveting until near the end. The final episode does tend to drag at points. I'm not all that keen on the ending - the resolution seems to be have been plucked out of thin air, without much preparatory basis. It lacked dramatic flair - there was no "A-ha!" moment. It seemed to be simply tacked on to give the investigation a conclusion. That's borne out by the writer Gwyneth Hughes, who admits that she wrote the script as the filming was going on and that she didn't know until the last, how the story would end and who she would choose to be the eventual baddie. Taken as a whole however, it was a fascinating miniseries which had me glued to the screen almost to the end. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with a Behind-The-Scenes Featurette as a Special Feature.