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Ghost Canyon

'A Touch of Frost Season 13: Endangered Species'
(David Jason, et al / DVD / NR / 2008 / MPI Home Video)

Overview: Award winning actor David Jason (Only Fools And Horses; The Darling Buds Of May) is back as maverick detective Jack Frost in this brand new story in the ratings winning crime series. Frost is called to investigate when a couple return from holiday to find the body of a complete stranger in their bed. He also becomes involved in a murder inquiry and uncovers a crime ring involved in the importing of endangered species and illegal animal goods.

DVD Verdict: 'Endangered Species' starts off sensationally, with Jason funny and quirky as the brusque, grumbling detective who finds himself involved in two complex, challenging homicides. But very quickly, the whimsy and almost strangely macabre vibe that the show expertly builds up, is dissipated with one clunky "message" after another, concerning exotic animal rights and teachers who sleep with their students.

Detective Inspector William "Jack" Frost (David Jason), of the Denton Police Department is upset when a case he worked on is dismissed from the courts, and petty criminal Kevin Flannagan (Gary Sefton) goes free. But things brighten up for Frost considerably when he gets a frenzied call from Flannagan who claims someone's ready to torture and murder him out a farm where he works. Not quite believing Flannagan, Frost ventures out to the farm with his current sidekick (and temporary roommate) DC Robert Presley (Blake Ritson). What they find is a very large, ticked-off crocodile, cages and cages of exotic animals, not in the best of care, and several human body parts in the pond - all of which Frost hopes belong to Flannagan.

After blowing a date with the much younger Julie Brown (Claire Cox), and sparring with his roommate Presley, who for some reason (the film doesn't bother to explain) is staying at Frost's home and who demands to be able to bring a woman home for the evening, Frost is called on for another strange homicide: a naked stranger is found in the bed of a family just returning from a caravan holiday. Is the stranger the woman's lover (her jealous husband seems to think so), or does the son have something to do with the dead man's appearance in the master bedroom? Is the murder related to Flannagan's disappearance? And indeed, if the remains in the pond aren't Flannagan, what does that have to do with the black market of smuggled exotic pets, centered in the sleepy town of Denton, of all places?

So much of the beginning of Endangered Species was so right that I thought it might be one of the better British mysteries I've seen this year - and I've seen quite a few. First and foremost, a very large amount of the appeal of the movie depends on Jason's portrayal of DI Frost, and he's effortlessly amusing. I don't think I've seen a funnier detective...who isn't trying to be funny in the slightest.

Employing the blackest of black English humor (Frost quietly celebrating the fact that Flannagan might have been eaten by a crocodile), while also throwing in a few Carry On facial expressions (watch Frost check out the sweating ladies at an aerobics class attended by his girlfriend Julie), Jason's Frost, at least in the first half of the film, is captivating, even though he's not really doing anything to make him so. It's Jason's personality alone that carries the character, and he's wonderful. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, but does not come with any Special Features.