The Upper Class don’t like criminal mysteries that put them on par with the commoners. It’s just undignified to appear in the police blotter after spending decades in the society pages. Who can tolerate being dragged into a riff raff situation? It’s just not becoming for the posh set. Most of those allowed into the old money strata have this same mindset. However Lord Peter Wimsey (Ian Carmichael) can’t allow his birthright to override his natural distaste for lies to uphold an image. Wimsey is a complete bon vivant and snappy dresser. When he’s attracted to a case, you can be assured that he’ll solve it with a stylish resolve. The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries: Set One brings us two adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayers’ novels set in pre-World War II England.
“Clouds of Witness” gets personal for Lord Wimsey. During a family gathering at their country estate, his sister’s fiance turns up dead. How could it happen? The only major clue was the fiance had received a mysterious letter. The major suspect is Lord’s brother who was seen kneeling over the fresh corpse. In this pre-C.S.I. time, there’s no real scientific picking the crime scene apart for clues. The cops don’t want to make it too messy. It’s up to Lord Wimsey to clear his family’s name. Instead of a normal jury, the brother’s fate lies in the House of Lords. It’s a much more elaborate courtroom than Perry Mason steps inside. Lord Wimsey plays an enormous gambit by checking a lead in America during the trial. As the arguments come to a close, Wimsey battles nasty weather in a small plane for a Lindbergh-esque Transatlantic flight. There a sense that two Wimsey’s will be dead men before the end of the five episodes.
“The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club” is the perfect title for a discrete coverage of a death. At an upper crust male club, there’s a corpse found sitting in a leather chair. Nobody is sure how long the General’s really been dead since most of the elderly members sit quietly in the corners. Everybody wants to write it off as a heart attack and toss the war hero in the grave. However on the same day the General’s sister also kicks the bucket. It’s too much of a coincidence for Lord Wimsey to accept. Naturally the posh club isn’t happy to have news of possible homicide in their privileged club spread around town. That’s what lowlifes do at their thuggish pubs. Lord Wimsey can’t be deterred as he suspects a relative wanting to kick start will readings was involved in the mysterious deaths.
The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries: Set One are involving as Lord Wimsey reminds us that even among the rich and stuffy are homicidal maniacs. Ian Carmichael owns the character with his charm and good taste getting him closer to the truth. He exudes panache as he pokes. The two mysteries included in this set allow us to see him in the proper settings of the family estate and the private club. He’s uppercrust without being as stiff as the corpses. This set is perfect for fans of non-cheap detectives.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers are the traditional BBC mix of video for the soundstage scenes and gritty 16mm for most of the locations. The video looks good for it’s age. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels are fine and if you have any issues with the English accents, there’s subtitles.
Ian Carmichael Interview Part 1 (7:43) has him discuss the character of Lord Peter Wimsey. He idolizes Wimsey.
Ian Carmichael Interview Part 2 (6:00) lets him discuss his ability to know everything about English dance bands. He loves music, but he didn’t know how to play any instruments so he chose acting as a career. He exposes his ability to fake playing the piano in the episodes.
Ian Carmichael Biography is a brief bio in text form.
Dorothy L. Sayers Biography is a summary of the novelist’s life in text form.
Production Notes is the text of an interview with Caramichael. This deals with how Caramichael spearheaded the effort to bring the books to TV. He was met by resistance from the BBC for such a natural project.
The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries: Set One brings back the posh detective. Lord Wimsey doesn’t mind exposing a few dirty secrets amongst the upper class in England. Carmichael endows Wimsey with a charisma that makes you want to tag along while he pokes around a crime scene and chats up suspects.
Acorn Media presents The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries: Set One. Starring: Ian Carmichael. Boxset Contents: 2 Novels on 3 DVDs. Released on DVD: March 30, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.