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P.D. James: The Essential Collection

4.1 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

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  • P.D. James - Death in Holy Orders
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  • P.D. James - The Murder Room
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Editorial Reviews

Hailed as Britain’s "Queen of Crime" by critics and fans alike, P.D. James is one of the most celebrated mystery writers of all time. Her first novel, Cover Her Face, introduced the world to the brilliant and poetic mind of Scotland Yard’s Adam Dalgliesh. Audiences have been captivated ever since!

From the diabolical to the macabre, this "essential collection" presents nine critically acclaimed P.D. James film adaptations on 15 discs – each starring Roy Marsden in a compelling Adam Dalgliesh Mystery. Includes: Death of an Expert Witness, Shroud for a Nightingale, Cover Her Face, The Black Tower, A Taste for Death, Devices and Desires, Unnatural Causes, A Mind for Murder, Original Sin


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Roy Marsden, Susannah York, Gemma Jones, James Faulkner, Tony Haygarth
  • Directors: Andrew Grieve, Gareth Davies, John Davies, John Gorrie, Herbert Wise
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 15
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Koch Vision
  • DVD Release Date: August 5, 2008
  • Run Time: 2075 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00199PPCO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,892 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This collection provides a good illustration of the way British TV drama has changed over the years. The first five mysteries (Death of an Expert Witness, Shroud for a Nightingale, Cover Her Face, The Black Tower & A Taste for Death) each comprise of six 45-minute episodes although the episodes are sadly joined together in these DVD presentations.

These serials were made between 1983 - 1988 and were shot fairly cheaply, on videotape as opposed to film, which was quite uncommon at the time. As a result, they appear a little cheap, but the upside was that books could be dramatized in a more drawn-out fashion and the characterisation (one of James' great strengths) could be fully brought out on screen.

The last three adaptations (Unnatural Causes, A Mind to Murder & Original Sin) were made between 1992 - 1996 and were shot on film as opposed to video tape. As a result these later adventures look much more modern and slick. However the additional expense of making these films mean they are much shorter and there is very little by way of characterisation compared to the earlier stories.

These film 2-hour dramas are the norm now, for British detective shows - as I say it is an interesting barometer of the way that TV drama has changed in the UK over the years.

The Black Tower is excellent and certainly my favourite of the earlier adventures. Art Malik and under-rated actors John Franklyn-Robbins & Richard Heffer excel in their guest roles.

Original Sin fares the best of the later adaptations, being slightly longer than the other two (145 mins as opposed to 100) and directed very nicely.

The major disappointment with this set is that it's not "the complete works".
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Format: DVD
This collection provides a good illustration of the way British TV drama has changed over the years. The first five mysteries (Death of an Expert Witness, Shroud for a Nightingale, Cover Her Face, The Black Tower & A Taste for Death) each comprise of six 45-minute episodes although the episodes are sadly joined together in these DVD presentations.

These serials were made between 1983 - 1988 and were shot fairly cheaply, on videotape as opposed to film, which was quite uncommon at the time. As a result, they appear a little cheap, but the upside was that books could be dramatized in a more drawn-out fashion and the characterisation (one of James' great strengths) could be fully brought out on screen.

The last three adaptations (Unnatural Causes, A Mind to Murder & Original Sin) were made between 1992 - 1996 and were shot on film as opposed to video tape. As a result these later adventures look much more modern and slick. However the additional expense of making these films mean they are much shorter and there is very little by way of characterisation compared to the earlier stories. As I say it is an interesting barometer of the way that TV drama has changed in the UK over the years.

The Black Tower is excellent and certainly my favourite of the earlier adventures. Art Malik and under-rated actors John Franklyn-Robbins & Richard Heffer excel in their guest roles.

Original Sin fares the best of the later adaptations, being slightly longer than the other two (145 mins as opposed to 100) and directed very nicely.

The major disappointment with this set is that it's not "the complete works".
Read more ›
Comment 72 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As another reviewer noted, the collection is defective, with the last disk of "Death of an Expert Witness" wrongly recorded. However, "Original Sin" is present and correct in my set. Having said this, and assuming this is a defect common to every copy of the The Essential Collection, the balance of the programs are excellent and remind us how effectively P.D. James' writing transfers to the small screen, and how well Roy Marsden plays Adam Dalgliesh, surely one of the more complex and interesting characters in english detective fiction. All of the characterizations are excellent, with England's endless collection of character actors called in to do wonderful duty peopling these stories.

It would certainly be helpful if Amazon could figure out how to deliver a correctly-recorded version of "Death of an Expert Witness" and someone's quality control is clearly out of whack. However, the collection is well worth its price even if defective, and (worst case) you can buy "Death of an expert witness" separately.

Now why the producers chose to replace Marsden in "Death in Holy Orders" (not included in this set) is a mystery in itself but his replacement does do an adequate if not exceptional job.
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Format: DVD
Koch Vision presents "P.D. JAMES: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION" (1983-1997) (2075 mins/Color) -- Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, (born 3 August 1920) is an English author of crime fiction, under the name P. D. James, and is a life peer in the British House of Lords --- Hailed as Britain's "Queen of Crime" by critics and fans alike, P.D. James is one of the most celebrated mystery writers of all time --- Her first novel, "Cover her Face", introduced the world to the brilliant and poetic mind of Scotland Yard's Adam Dalgliesh --- Audiences have been captivated ever since

From the diabolical to the macabre, this "essential collection" presents nine critically acclaimed P.D. James film adaptations - each starring Roy Marsden in a compelling Adam Dalgliesh Mystery.

Over 34 Hours of Heart-Stopping Suspense - Includes a collectible 19-Page Booklet, featuring an interview with P.D. James.

9 MYSTERIES ON 15 DVD'S AS FOLLOWS:
"Death of an Expert Witness" (8 April 1983)
It begins with the discovery of a murder of young girl --- However, this is not the focus of the novel, but rather is used as a method to introduce us to the staff of a forensic laboratory, the background of this mystery --- The actual murder of Dr. Lorrimer, an experienced expert witness, is only discovered in the second section of the book. It is quickly established that only people associated with the lab would have the opportunity or the knowledge to commit the crime, which allows the detectives to focus their attention.
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