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Ghost Canyon

'The Syndicate - Series One'
(Timothy Spall, Matthew McNulty, Matthew Lewis, et al / 2-Disc / Not Rated / (2012) 2013 / Acorn Media)

Overview: In this riveting British series, five cash-strapped supermarket employees are bracing for their store’s imminent shutdown when their lottery pool wins big. It seems like a godsend—but the syndicate soon learns that good fortune can come at a high price!

DVD Verdict: I actually have to say that just one minute into this (relatively) brand new series from the UK I was having trouble understanding what a few of the characters were saying - and I'm British! Their regional accents are raw and so when someone like the uber-kindhearted, yet massively overweight Denise (Lorraine Bruce) starts talking, well, you're gonna need a) subtitles and b) a book of UK slang, sorry!

Don't get me wrong though, for 'The Syndicate - Series 1' is a highly-compelling, expertly-performed by one and all in the five major roles show that shows signs of a sharp script from BAFTA-winning writer Kay Mellor ('Band of Gold'). Not a comedy, so beware, but more of a taut and highly-addictive British drama, the show IS too long at five hour long episodes; but it works - just!

Each episode features the life of one of the characters, but we (of course) open on the actual win, and the short lead up to how it all came about. And so, as mentioned, we watch as our five cash-strapped supermarket employees go about their business; how their personal lives are tearing most all of the apart. The shop has been bought out, the employees have to re-apply for new jobs if they want to keep them, and their boss (Timothy Spall, 'Harry Potter') is as sorry as anyone. They are a family and that's what keeps this series on the up and up.

But, one of them needs cash and needs it fast. Suddenly another one feels the same way, and so the night before the "big reveal," they rob the store. But, midway through, Bob (Spall) the store manager comes back for his cell phone and they smash him over the head with a bottle of whiskey. Moving forward, the next day they find out they have an equal share of five into 18 million pounds, so all their money troubles have gone away. But, their personal problems still persist and so do the police re: the robbery and the fact that Bob is in hospital about to have brain surgery!

What follows is how each got to where they are that day, who they really are, and who actually knew more about the robbery than they originally let on! Chock full of flashbacks, image makeovers for the girls (especially Denise - who I swear looks like an overweight Amanda Redman!), and an acting performance from Spall that is BAFTA award-winning if ever there was, 'The Syndicate - Series 1' is looooong; but worth your time. Season 2 is done, dusted, aired and just as BRILLIANT - trust me!! These are all Full Screen Presentations (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk