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'Kavanagh Qc Set One: Men of Substance'
(John Thaw, et al / 3-Disc DVD / PG / 2013 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: John Thaw (Inspector Morse) stars in this superb courtroom series as a masterful British barrister. Episodes include Memento Mori, Care in the Community & Briefs Trooping Gaily.

DVD Verdict: If you were not aware, John Thaw (Inspector Morse) is masterful British barrister James Kavanagh, a top member of Queen's Counsel, in this powerful courtroom drama series. Fundamental to his success in court is Kavanagh's fierce desire for justice as he ferrets out the truth with rapier-like prowess, making even the stalwart criminal buckle.

The fact that Thaw was able to make his eponymous character in these newly-released 'Kavanagh Q.C.' DVDs stand out as a unique personality distinct from the superficially similar Inspector Morse says much about his understated skills as an actor. Thaw brought his trademark mixture of curmudgeonly belligerence and gruff sensitivity to Kavanagh, but the barrister--who first appeared on British television screens in 1995 while the Oxford detective was still alive and kicking--is no polished-up Morse.

He is far more worldly, is married, and has a family. And although he is often troubled by his cases, he is never afraid to play the system. He knows that there are devious, even superficial lawyers, some of them in his own chambers, whom he must face across the courtroom, but he acknowledges them as an unavoidable aspect of the world in which he works.

Each of the four episodes in this set resembles a modern Perry Mason courtroom drama, with Kavanagh defending characters accused of rape, a murder disguised as a traffic accident, a child custody/abuse case, and the murder of a businessman by a prostitute. In all these cases, the situation is established in the first half of the program, as the viewer becomes familiar with the characters, along with Morse's current home problems.

The second half features very civilized court proceedings as Morse defends the client while his colleagues conduct the prosecution. Unlike the Perry Mason series, however, justice is not always served in these more realistic dramas, even if Kavanagh wins.

The last work of a great actor. At least when he left as Inspector Morse, there was Kavanagh. He'll be missed. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

•Cast Profiles
•John Thaw: A Tribute
•Kavanagh Q.C.: The Birth Of A Series
•Quotations on Law and Justice