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6 Degrees Entertainment

'A Mind to Kill - Complete Collection'
(Philip Madoc, Ffion Wilkins, Sharon Morgan, Michael Povey, Geraint Lewis, et al / 11-DVD / Not Rated / (1994) 2013 / Acorn Media)

Overview: Philip Madoc ('The Last of the Mohicans') delivers an unforgettable performance as brooding detective Noel Bain in this atmospheric Welsh drama. An old-fashioned and kindhearted cop, Bain solves crimes with his unerring instinct, keen intelligence, and passion for defending the innocent.

DVD Verdict: Firstly, it has to be said that the late Philip Madoc (as Noel Bain) looks way more menacing on the front cover art than he does in this show, sorry! He also looks heavier on the cover art, but that's by the by, of course!

That said, 'A Mind To Kill' began in 1994 and went on to include 22 episodes until it ended in 2004. So he must have been doing something right along the way there. Watching each episode they do seem dated now, I'll give you that, but they are still a lot of fun to watch and unravel along the way. And save for the fact that some of the earlier episodes are easy to work out whodunit; if only for the fact there are only sometimes four principle actors featured, the sets a little wooden also, 'A Mind To Kill' is satisfying evening entertainment to settle in for.

As he says himself in one of the episodes, "I want to do this my way," to which his superior quickly retorts, "Yes, you always bloody do!" And as much as there are a lot of Welsh accents clogging things up, they are not (luckily for us all) thick and broad. They are more Queens English Welsh-style, if there were such a thing!

Along with his trusted colleague Margaret Edwards, (Sharon Morgan) the forensic pathologist on hand to fill in the blanks for him, Bain and his band of merry men re: squad try to solve such mysteries along the way as the murder of a prostitute who witnessed a scab beating by strikers ('Black Silence'); a youth found charred in a pig pit and confirmed to be a rent boy ('Gameboys'); a body, nude, run over, beaten, and shot, who even appears to have also first dug his own grave ('Son Of His Works'); and even both a child suicide at a waterfall ('Shadow Falls') and a tale about Welsh Pop Singer star, Meesh ('The Inner Life of Strangers').

All the while his daughter Hannah (Ffion Wilkins) is still unhappy living with Dad and Bain himself has continuing nightmares of his own wife's death. DS Alison Griffiths (Gillian Elisa) is Bain's close friend and brave associate, and Superintendent Jack Bevan (Michael Povey) is Bain's ambitious superior. And DS Carwyn Phillips (Geraint Lewis) is the sometimes over eager and yet always humorous assistant.

But, and not to give anything away about any of the characters, but most everyone mentioned above only resides in the show for just a few of the episodes. Indeed, Superintendent Jack Bevan only for 6, if truth be told!

Trust me, each of these episodes are a unique blend of mystery, suspense and intrigue and Madoc is solid throughout in his stand alone character portrayal of Bain. That said, 'A Mind To Kill' is just so atmospheric. At its time it was one of the best of the detective procedurals, it's genuinely gritty and down-to-earth approach to the filming and actual script shying as far away from latter day versions such as both Inspector Morse and A Touch Of Frost, etc.

Did you know that Welsh-language versions of the earlier seasons' episodes were filmed in parallel with the English-language episodes, for transmission in Wales with a series title Yr Heliwr (The Hunter)? No, I didn't think so, but that kind of info is found here on this incredible 11 disc box-set. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1:66.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

A clip from Yr Heliwr, the Welsh-language version of the series (7 min.)
The Women of A Mind to Kill: notes from Ffion Wilkins, Sharon Morgan, and Gillian Elisa
Director’s Production Notes
Cast Filmographies