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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Wycliffe - Series 5'
(Jack Shepherd, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2010 / BFS Entertainment)

Overview: The wild, craggy Cornish coast seems ideal for hiding serious crimes, but forthright and observant Detective Superintendent Wycliffe (Jack Shepherd - The Golden Compass) leads an investigative team charged with solving each baffling case. Murderous poachers, wife beaters, kidnappers, computer hackers and cop killers are some of the cunning criminals they pursue in the intriguing mysteries of this gripping, British police drama.

DVD Verdict: Bringing the life of the fictional Chief Inspector Charles Wycliffe to and end, Season 5's six episodes were all strong. 'On Offer,' directed by Wycliffe actor Jack Shepherd himself, begins with Wycliffe recovering from Patrick Durno's attempt to kill him. Mental and physical problems seem to be the issue with him, so he is not rushing back to work.

D.I. Doug Kersey takes charge when a Farmer wages war on anglers legally fishing on his land. When a salmon poacher is found dead D.I. Lucy Lane, who has now stepped into Wycliffe's shoes at work (and his office!) takes the reins, which Kersey has no issue with! Lane then makes a rather unsuccessful promotion bid, but stuck behind moutains of paperwork, it's left to Kersey to bag the killer himself.

In 'Time Out,' a prostitute informs Kersey that a punter has told her that he killed a woman a few nights earlier. Kersey is initially sceptical, as there is not much to go on, let alone a body! But, whilst Wycliffe is still at home recouping, he sets his sights on a neighbour of his. Miraculously, and only in TV land, this man his tied up in the case Kersey is working! Lane is now back with journalist ex-lover Angus, but not for long!

In 'Standing Stone,' also directed by Shepherd, Sophie Cattran, wife of Kersey's musician friend Mike, goes missing after her evening class and her belongings are found at the Devil's Gateway - standing stones, kinda like a mini Stonehenge, linked to the entrance to Hell in local superstition. Soon after a male class tutor, and chief suspct is fond murdered and come the final scenes, it's a mad dash to the Devil's Gateway to prevent another slaying! This episode also features some lovely Celtic music, played in a local pub chock full of Guinness!

In 'Feeding the Rat,' a term for what climbers 'do' when climbing up unclimbable faces, a climber, Gareth Denton is killed in a cliff fall. A less than reliable witness (the brilliant Chris Humphreys as 'Jim Hornby' aka the young actor from Lovejoy) drunkenly proclaims in the local pub that he was murdered by his climbing partner - Hugh Barrington, played by the great character actor, Paul Venables.

Wycliffe, now seemingly flirting between being back full time at work and still in pain and mopping around the house, suspects that Barrington is guilty but cannot find a motive. But, in BIGGER news Lane reveals she is pregnant and will be a single parent!

In 'Scope,' Policeman, and ex-Navy Seal Alan Trier is murdered and the abrasive Deputy Chief Constable Roth orders Wycliffe to avoid any scandal which would attract outside criticism in his investigation ... given that Trier's wife had been having an affair with another (much younger) officer! This is a very slow burner episode, one where you know the identity of one of the culprits, but the other is to be guessed at as we progress. And yes, it comes complete with a great, albeit unbelieveable in the grand scheme of things, twist!

And finally, in 'Land's End,' two main drug dealers are killed and hung up to dry, which sets everyone on edge. In an incidently plot line, Wycliffe visits a woman he helped change the identity of back many years ago, when he put her husband in jail. But, as she hands him some details in an envelope, some supposedly incriminating photos of him are taken. He is then further accused of taking bribes when 30,000 pounds is put into his bank account (a bank account he has never seen before!) and he is suspended.

Lane, heavily pregnant, investigating the murder of the two drug dealers, takes immediate maternity leave to help him and they discover that an old foe of Wycliffe's is on the manor and is responsible for it all. A final showdown at Land's End, which also happily ties in with Lane's drug investigations, brings the series to a really tight conclusion.

And, as much as the series didn't truly end at that point, British TV (come 1998) had obviously decided that it didn't need to renew the contract of this Cornish detective show. Well, that and the fact that the series was cancelled because Jack Shepherd (Wycliffe himself) refused to continue in the title role when the producers sacked Jimmy Yuill (D.I. Doug Kersey) "for insurance reasons" after he contracted life-threatening meningitis during filming; and then would not reinstate him even though he made a full recovery!

Which makes a lot of sense re: Kersey's appearances in this last series, as if you look back Kersey wasn't even in the last three episodes! Also, as it turned out, Lane was pregnant in real life, and Wycliffe himself was looking, and acting, well ... old(er). [RT] This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.