DVD Review: Springhill (Series One)

Can a show remain relatively obscure with a praised production staff? The answer is yes when it comes Springhill. The Granda production was co-created by Paul Abbott. He’s responsible for Shameless, State of Play and numerous Cracker scripts. On Abbott’s writing staff was Russell T. Davis, the man behind Queer As Folk and the recent revival of Doctor Who. Yet even with such a pedigree, Springhill doesn’t have complete entries on the major internet TV information sites. The show comes off as a slightly serious version of Soap with Dark Shadows‘s supernatural creeps. There’s plenty of mystery in the 26 episodes on Springhill: Series One.

The first episode creates the feeling that this is a kitchen sink production. The Freeman family is squeezed into a tiny house in Liverpool’s Springhill district. Mother Liz (Gilly Coman) daydreams before her five kids destroy the calm. Trish (Christine Tremarco), Sue (Sharon Byatt), John Paul (Paul Culshaw), Anthony (Kevin Knapman) and Nick (Scot Williams) are a handful under the roof. Father Jack (Jonathan Barlow) barely has control over his kids. But things get weird when it’s pointed out the kids needs to spend some time with their grandfather. Turns out old man is in a casket set up in the living room. There’s a weird Twin Peaks vibe taking place as everyone acts rather normal about the events. Things get even freakier the next day when one son bumps into the dead grandfather. He has a rather unusual request of his grandchild. Adding to the unreality of the atmosphere, a strange woman keeps appearing and disappearing around the family. Is she also some sort of ghost or just a stalker who moves really quick? Why does she have something over the priest who officiated the grandfather’s funeral? So many questions that do eventually pay off.

Liz does have a reason to fear the return of the mysterious woman. Turns out she’s Eva Morrigan (Katharine Rogers). Hher secret can destroy her entire family. There’s no need to give away the big secret in this review. It’s a really good secret and gets twisted up by Liz in order to protect her family. Will Eva put the story right so the truth is exposed? As primetime soap operas go, Springhill has a remarkable ability to not mock the format while bending for pure absurdity. The weirdness elevates until the show turns a battle between good and evil accompanied by Patrick Dineen’s spooky music. By the time such extremes arrive, it just seems normal from the people living in Springhill. Such is the touch that Abbott, Russell and their writing cohorts bring to this obscure family in Liverpool.

The video is 1.33:1. The show was shot on standard definition video. There’s no major issues in the transfers even with a warning about the source material. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. You might want to turn down the volume since the family yells a lot. The episodes are subtitled.

No bonus features.

Springhill: Series One is a soap opera that goes to the proper extremes within what seems like a normal family. This is the first of the two seasons it lasted on British television.

Acorn Media presents Springhill: Series One. Starring: Gilly Coman, Katharine Rogers and Jonathan Barlow. Boxset Contents: 26 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: June 18, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.

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