DVD Review: Jack Taylor (Set 1)

Scottish actor Iain Glen is a stealth superstar with supporting roles on two of TV’s most buzzed about shows. He’s Sir Richard Carlisle on PBS’ Downton Abbey and Jorah Mormont on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Even with his relatively minor roles, Glen commands the small screen. He knows how to undermine a family and protect the Mother of Dragons. For viewers who want to see him in a bigger role, it turns out he he’s the title character on Jack Taylor which airs on Ireland’s TV3. Glen gets to solve murders without rubbing shoulders with royalty. Jack Taylor: Set 1 has the first three TV movies based on Ken Bruen’s crime novels.

“The Guards” sets up the character of Jack Taylor as member of the Irish Police Force who isn’t by the book. He enjoys hits from the bottle while working a speed trap. When he pulls a politician, Taylor won’t eat the ticket. He didn’t get a badge for brown nosing. His head strong ways lead to getting booted from the force. Instead of focusing on his alcoholism, he goes into the private detective business in Galway, Ireland. He reflects the coastal town in his gruff appearance and thick pea coat. He’s the harsh reality after the Irish economic miracle burst. His cop background helps him in knowing all the angles in the area, but he’s a complete outsider to the cops themselves. He’s burned too many bridges to get favors from the force. His first major case involves hunting down a missing girl. Turns out there’s been quite a few young girls committing suicide. Jack doesn’t think it’s a mere coincidence. He begins making connections with the victims to see if it can lead to the missing girl. There’s an illegal sex video trade at the center. “The Pikemen” are a local group that are killing people. When Jack gets involved in a murder investigation, he finds out that the mysterious vigilantes are connected. Jack ends up arrested for homicide. He needs serious help to keep from being sent up the river. He might be an ex-cop, but that won’t matter to any future inmates. “The Magdalene Martyrs” has him tracking down a sadistic nun listed in a dead woman’s diary. Turns out that there’s more at play with missing church records and an equally sadistic mobster wanting Jack off the case. Jack uncovers facts that make this more than a case for his client.

Jack Taylor: Set 1 allows Glen to shine in a starring role. He’s on par with James Nesbitt’s work on Murphy’s Law. Having the stories given as a 93 minute movies instead of splitting them up into episodes allows them to gain a plot momentum. The episodes use cinematic techniques instead of the usual TV editing structure. This looks like an ex-cop movie. Also helps that Jack doesn’t spend his time on a computer looking up stuff. He’d rather get his information from people. We do live in a time where a decent detective movie seems rather bleak prospect at the cinemaplex. They’d rather have their crimes solved by a guy in tights with a trademarked logo to exploit. Jack Taylor is not about a superhero. He’s a proper throwback to detectives that deals with his demons as much as his clients. Glen proves himself worthy of stepping behind his supporting roles.

The video is 1.78:1. The series was shot in HD. You get both the beauty and grit of Ireland on Taylor’s investigations. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. The mix is fine. The soundtrack music is low key so it never overwhelms the dialogue track. The movies are subtitled.

Photo Galleries are provided with each movie. They’re montages of production stills.

Jack Taylor: Set 1 lets Iain Glen shine in a gritty role. He’s got the right attitude to play the trouble detective who hates to back down from a case.

Acorn Media presents Jack Taylor: Set 1. Starring: Iain Glen. Boxset Contents: 3 movies on 3 DVDs. Released: June 25, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.

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