DVD Review: Dear Murderer (Series 1)

There’s two things you’ll find true about every country around the world: they each have a special chicken recipe and a passion for courtroom dramas. This is great news if you like international tastes and watching foreign lawyers battle before a judge. When New Zealand is mentioned, the natural thought is a land filled with props from the Lord of the Rings movies. It’s a dreamy sweet Swiss-like world below us. But as long as there are humans, there’s laws, lawbreakers and lawyers. Dear Murderer: Series 1 focuses on one of New Zealand’s most high profile lawyers and his legendary cases. Mike Bungay was a criminal lawyer who represented high profile cases in the small country. These first five episodes are biographical and follow him from his first taste of legal fame until an unexpected turn.

Bungay (The Hobbit‘s Mark Mitchinson) is not a straight-laced lawyer. He registered his car in his dog’s name to better fight parking tickets. He’s also got a severe problem with booze and flirts hard with women. He is not trying to emulate Perry Mason. Because of his reputation, he finds himself defending a man accused of spying. His colorful style immediately makes him a national celebrity along with further cases. This doesn’t work well with him since it’s just more chances to be drunk and a lothario. Bungay seems doomed to be that man who couldn’t put up a defense against his demons over. Even when he finds a special woman, he seems defenseless to return to a sane and sober life of all those decades ago.

Dear Murderer was based on a biography written by his last wife so there’s a bit of questioning if this real life adventure has been amped up to show what she did upon entering the wild beast’s life. But this is also television and seeing Bengay out of control adds drama to the courtroom scenes. Can he keep it together for the sake of his client? Mitchinson does a fine job with a colorful person. The series easily fits in well with other shows from England, Canada and Australia in tone and look. Dear Murderer is a series that can easily make you forget you’re supposed to cook a chicken dinner until you get through the fifth episode.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The resolution really brings out details on New Zealand bars and bottles. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital. There’s a fine atmosphere in the court rooms so you want to be quiet and listen to the action. The episodes are subtitled.

No bonus features.

Acorn Media presents Dear Murderer: Series 1. Starring: Coen Falke, Mark Mitchinson and Erroll Shand . Boxset Contents: 5 episodes on 2 DVDs. Rated: Unrated. Released: May 1, 2018.

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