Dalziel and Pascoe: Season Seven (DVD)
Poor Peter Pascoe (played with glum determination by Colin Buchanan). Not only is his dogged, slow-but-steady police work consistently outshined by the piercing insights of his partner, Andy Dalziel (the eternally surly Warren Clarke), but his personal life keeps getting caught up in woeful crimes: When he attends a wedding as best man in "The Unwanted" or plays squash with an old friend in "Dialogues of the Dead," murder crops up posthaste. And when he tries to date… well, it doesn't work out well in "Mens Sana." Not that Dalziel is much luckier; his only sister turns out to have a surprising connection with an investigation in "Sins of the Fathers." "For Love Nor Money" doesn't involve their personal lives, but it does implicate almost their entire police department in illicit activity. It's suspicious, really, just how often Dalziel and Pascoe are intimately connected to the crimes they investigate...
Such implausibilities aside, Dalziel & Pascoe is an intelligent detective series, more focused on character than many such shows. The leads have complex personalities and an even more complex relationship, while the recurring detectives (like the stoic and understated Wield, played by David Royle, and eager newbie Harris, played by Keeley Forsyth) routinely get moments where their individuality shines through. But more importantly, the supporting players in the individual episodes aren't just stock types. A particular standout is a withered former soldier in "Mens Sana," played by the great British slapstick comedian Norman Wisdom, who turns a handful of scenes into a portrait of loss and bitterness. The only weak show of this season is the two-part "Dialogues of the Dead," one of those stories with a fantastical serial killer whose powers verge on the preternatural and whose final identity stretches credulity. But the other episodes are solid and engaging tales of greed getting out of hand, bitterness too long repressed, and secrets that can't be kept any more. --Bret Fetzer